April 21, 2011, 9:29 AM

Most small- and mid-sized merchants can’t handle traffic spikes

A survey finds 73% of those businesses can’t support a 200% traffic jump.

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Retail web sites are prone to spikes in traffic throughout the year, such as the Monday after Thanksgiving.

However, many small- and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, aren’t prepared to deal with that onslaught of traffic, according to a new survey of I.T. workers conducted by web monitoring vendor Neustar Inc. and Decipher Inc.

The survey found that 45% of SMBs cannot handle a 100% increase in traffic and 73% cannot handle a 200% spike. And, when traffic jumps 300%, that number jumps to 93%.

One of the main reasons for the shortfall is that many I.T. workers are making compromises to keep costs low to meet management’s goals, according to the respondents. 30% of survey respondents said they look for savings by exploring “every free or low-cost service” available. Only 12% said they are willing to fight for the best possible product to meet their needs. And half of respondents said they recommend to management what they consider the best option, but then settle for a compromise.

One result, Neustar says, is businesses that are overly reliant on a single domain name system, or DNS, provider, says Neustar’s report. . 38% of respondents said they use the DNS service provided by their Internet service provider and 16% use a free hosted option.

Each of those solutions is unlikely to be capable of mitigating a large amount of traffic, says Neustar. That traffic can overwhelm the system and cause it to perform slowly or become unresponsive. Neustar sells UltraDNS, a domain name service product that aimed at enabling small- and medium-sized businesses, including retailers, to keep their sites operating when they experience a traffic surge.  

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