Monday, December 1, 2008

Cyber Monday: 'Site Maintenence' Day?!

An unfortunate reality that in a 24x7 world of web, occasionally sites simply must go offline for maintenance tasks such as upgrades, security patches, and migrating data centers. While often this can be avoided (redundant systems, etc.), frequently the lost revenue shadows the cost of mitigating such downtime.

Any system administrator (err, anyone with a couple minutes of logic) will tell you the best windows for shunting a site is when traffic is at a site's lowest (for example, after midnight on a weekend). While grumbling about life-disrupting hours, rollouts, launches, upgrades and critical maintenance almost always has engineers working the swing shift.

Which then begs the question: Why on EARTH would be "temporarily closed for scheduled site improvements" on today, of all days. This, according to a message greeting potential customers at the online retailer, is in an effort to, "bring you a better shopping experience".

My guess? The downtime wasn't scheduled at all. At least, I'd hope not... surely not on "Cyber Monday".

09:45 Update: According to a quick search of, the Banana Republic website (along with sister sites and has been offline for about an hour. Patrick Byers over at The Responsible Marketing Blog asks the question on all of our minds regarding the clearly erroneous splash page: "It’ll only take a few minutes, so why not just tell the truth?"

10:00 Update: Just hit refresh and it appears the Gap, Inc. sites are back online. Any guesses on the cost of this outage? Will the Cyber Monday offers be extended an extra hour to compensate?

1 comment:

brett said...

I recently learned that putting up a "routine maintenance" page is actually best practice as it implies to the casual observer that this was planned even though it was not. If companies put up - "we're down," it weakens confidence for the customer.