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Dell.com – A Case Study in Building for Zero Downtime

Dell Video Dell.com has relied on the ScaleArc software for its eCommerce infrastructure for several years – initially to support Black Friday surges and now for zero downtime all year round. In this new video, Dell’s IT director shares several ongoing business and technical challenges facing Dell.com.

In his overview, Ujjwal Rajbhandari, IT Director, Infrastructure Architecture, Dell highlights:

  • the challenges of upgrading Microsoft SQL Server – like a lot of companies, Dell.com wanted to take advantage of the AlwaysOn feature set in SQL Server 2012. Also like a lot of companies, the challenges of upgrading to SQL Server 2012 included needing to update its applications to use the scale out features. By leveraging the ScaleArc software, Dell.com got automatic read/write split and full support of AlwaysOn with no code changes.
  • the need to avoid database downtime – in Dell’s eCommerce business, there’s simply no time for downtime. The key for Dell is to have database downtime NOT impact application availability. Ujjwal explains that now, when there’s a database outage, the ScaleArc software queues the traffic during database failover and then sends it on when the secondary has been promoted to be the new primary. So customers see a little delay but no errors.
  • the value of zero downtime maintenance – Dell used to run maintenance windows at 1 am on weeknights, and it took dozens of staff and huge coordination to figure out a time when all parties could tolerate the application going offline. Now, Dell doesn’t have to call many maintenance windows. Ujjwal talks about how Dell can now upgrade the database without bringing down the app or business service.
  • the ability to increase site performance – in addition to enabling a zero downtime environment, the ScaleArc software has also enabled Dell to improve site response time. Before deploying ScaleArc, the current IT staff at Dell.com didn’t know it, but the website code had a set of queries that were crucial to a health check that bogged down page load time. The ScaleArc software highlighted the presence of those queries and let the staff cache them with a single mouse click – instantly, every single webpage on the site loaded twice as fast.
  • the power of an abstraction layer for simplifying operations – Dell had other choices in how it approached the data tier. By deploying the ScaleArc software, the organization now has an abstraction layer that separates the tie between its applications and its databases, and that separation has simplified their overall operations. Dell is deploying ScaleArc ubiquitously to support all its Class 0 and Class 1 SQL Server applications and is looking to bring ScaleArc into its Oracle environment as well.

You can watch this 3-minute video or read the case study to get a powerful snapshot of how Dell.com is benefiting from all these use cases and the simplicity of building a zero downtime environment for applications.

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