All of the Store Locator Plus® web properties are now living on an updated server cluster. The new configuration, a load-balanced cluster, will provide zero-downtime maintenance window and faster performance under peak load; These upgrades will be most noticeable for our SaaS users.
Our prior server configuration used a failover configuration. In that type of configuration a web server handles 100% of the load and if it fails a second duplicate server that is in standby takes over. This provides limited downtime with reduced costs; However, it also means there are routine service outages when the underlying software (Operating System, web services, web apps) are updated.
The current configuration, put into place over the weekend with zero downtime, uses a load balanced configuration. In this configuration two-or-more servers mirror each other and are all online and answering web requests at the same time. Requests are split between the servers with a goal of maintaining an average load of just under 50%. This ensures that if one server fails the service stays up-and-running while a replacement server is automatically brought online to assist in web services.
The load balanced cluster also provides an added benefit of horizontal scalability. Failover style server could only be pushed up to a bigger server with more CPUs and RAM and faster network interfaces; a process that meant building ever-bigger servers with higher costs and longer maintenance window downtime. The load balanced cluster configuration monitors server loads across the cluster and adds a new server automatically at set performance limits. This ensures that there is a less-than-5-minute response time to adding capacity whenever there is a spike in usage.
The late November 2018 updates to My Store Locator Plus® add a new level of data privacy for your site visitors. Until now whenever a user typed in an address on your locator that search was sent directly from the user’s browser to Google. This is how the vast-majority of locator software applications work.
In an effort to provide a better user experience AND protect user privacy, all address lookup requests (aka geocoding requests) are now directed through the My Store Locator Plus® dual-layer proxy server. Unlike Google, and many other online services, we do not track or retain identifiable data that associates this lookup with a user or their IP address.
By doing nothing more than employing the MySLP embed code on your site to provide locator or directory services for your customers you are giving them an extra level of privacy and security. Google can no longer directly associate an address they type into the search with their web browser.
Privacy. That is something we think everyone can use more of these days.
The list of locations has a link for directions from your user’s location to each of the stores shown on the map. At some point in the recent past this feature stopped working. Our November update to My Store Locator Plus® addresses this issue, restoring proper direction links to your locations. Self-managed WordPress plugin users will need to upgrade to the Store Locator Plus plugin version 4.9.22 for this patch.