Flower delivery specialist Interflora is confident it will not break any hearts on Valentine's Day after a major upgrade of its online facility.
The company is guaranteeing delivery of orders taken on its website up until 2pm on 13 February after upgrading its Sun Microsystems servers to meet customer demand.
Matthew Darch, online technical assistant at Interflora, said: "We are expecting close to double the traffic we had last year. After Mother's Day we got a lot more traffic than we expected. Some customers were unable to get on and place orders, and that experience persuaded us to improve site performance."
The site's Sun E450 web server now has four processors running at 450Mhz instead of two. Its E450 database server has had its processing power doubled, but it still has only two processors as compared to the four in the web server because "the database is Oracle and we have to pay £60,000 per processor".
When Valentine's Day demand slackens off, there will be positive ripple effects for customers. "The site will be nice and quick for everyone," said Darch.
Mat Hanrahan, an analyst with Bloor Research, said that coping with demand and guaranteeing delivery at "demand spikes" is essential.
"Calendar dates such as Valentine's Day and Christmas define shopping online. This creates infrastructure issues and companies must scale out and scale up," he explained.
"There are very obvious marketing opportunities if they get it right, but unfortunately business-to-consumer ecommerce has been getting an absolute kicking. At the end of the day you've got to have the guys in overalls with vans who will deliver," he added.
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