Secrets of finding the right IT partner for online retailersRecently I got a chance to visit beautiful Vermont, the Green Mountain state to those familiar. I stayed in Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, a seemingly quiet town with lots of locally-owned restaurants (you must try Bove’s Italian if you ever visit — to die for!). The city is also a playground for University of Vermont students and sits on one of the most gorgeous lakes I have ever seen, Lake Champlain, which neighbors upstate New York and Canada. Vermont is the home of Ben & Jerry’s®, Green Mountain Coffee® and of course, The Vermont Teddy Bear Company®, which was the main focus of my trip.

Vermont Teddy Bear, an Internap customer, agreed to let me and my video crew tour their facility for a day to see how they make the most classic childhood toy of all time, the original teddy bear. As we filmed the factory, I learned all of their bears are still made right here in the U.S.A. and all by hand. The company was started by a man selling teddy bears out of a cart in downtown Burlington, and they became so popular he started shipping bears around the country.

Today as an online retailer, Vermont Teddy Bear makes 80% of its sales via its website, and most of its sales occur around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. During these special occasions, the company experiences spikes in traffic as high as 700% above their average year-round site traffic. With demands like these, Vermont Teddy Bear needed a solution that wouldn’t be susceptible to latency or cause downtime during peak seasons, where most of the revenue is earned.

This scenario probably sounds familiar if you also rely on an e-commerce site to drive your business. Downtime, latency and unpredictable loads can be huge challenges for today. But how do you find a partner that can meet those challenges? Here are a few questions to consider asking future providers when shopping around:

  1. What technology is the IP solution backed by? Typical BGP or standard TCP aren’t enough when faced with busy holiday shoppers. A solution that comes with Intelligent Route Control that dynamically chooses the fastest path over the Internet will be your best bet to ensure shoppers complete a purchase rather than abandon their shopping cart.
  2. In terms of Content Delivery Networks (CDN), does it come with accelerated IP technologies built-in? What parts of the CDN network are optimized? The ingress, intra-CDN communications and egress are three areas that if optimized, are a triple threat to any latency issues.
  3. What level of uptime does the provider guarantee in their Service Level Agreement (SLA)? And do they offer proactive credits?
  4. For elasticity during high-volume periods, can the provider offer you multiple options to handle the load? Think private and public cloud solutions and the ever- increasingly popular hybrid hosting.

These a just a few ideas to get you started. As you make your own wish list of qualities for an IT Infrastructure partner, be sure to check out the video on why Vermont Teddy Bear chose us for their needs.