How do you cope when your site traffic doesn’t just spike it explodes?

When you have worked in the digital landscape for as long as I have, no doubt you’ve had to deal with some unexpected road bumps along the way. Particularly when you run sites / apps for large national or international brands that have the potential to go “viral”, there can be some interesting moments along the way.

Back 13 years ago when we ventured forth as an independent development and marketing agency on the web, scalability was a new concept, hosting was expensive and slow, but access from ISPs weren’t much so the amount of damage from something getting large volumes wasn’t that big.

Progressively as bandwidth capability has increased so have access speeds. Now moderate numbers of traffic to poorly engineered applications can cause tremendous load which has the potential to wreak havoc for businesses who were not expecting an unnatural spike.

Way back when, the big goal / fear was getting “slashdotted” – where a post about your product or site on would result in big traffic spikes that brought down sites. In today’s terms the traffic numbers they got are fairly insignificant, but in their time many tens of thousands of simultaneous users who all clicked on a one of the sites from a post created major issues.

Today that effect can happen from many sources, including news sites, social media channels, bad PR… the list goes on. With the ease of a click and share of a link, if something big or bad happens to you rest assured your web infrastructure is going to feel it.

For our team these challenges are part of the dynamic and fun space we work in.

We have had to help our customers handle massive spikes that would send most webmasters into a catatonic state.

2011 has thrown up numerous challenges to businesses and people in general with a raft of major natural disasters that have driven users online in hundreds of thousands looking to stay up to date with the major events as they have occurred. If you think about how much information you personally consumed over those events across the web and other news channels, then think about the local and international volume searching for that information – you can start to get a sense of the magnitude of provisioning such information.

Many of our non customers probably don’t know the scale of the Ireckon hosting infrastructure, which we run both in Australia and Overseas. It is significant, and while not a major international hosting company we easily deliver over 1 billion pages every month alone, on top of a raft of other items we manage.

Recently we stepped in to help the Brisbane City Council who was under a massive load spike due to the nature of the flood event taking place.

At a time when few sites would have been able to stand up to the massive and continuous load demanded of their group of sites, we were able to assist in getting the sites back online and stable with the core and critical information delivered.  At times of such stress and demand on a network, we were able to offer interim solutions that facilitated a fix, that could handle the load and then gracefully migrate back to the core infrastructure as the load diminished.

Just as we stood down from that, Cyclone Yasi came ashore, and as a partner with News Digital Media, delivering solutions to the Regional Newspaper network we stepped in again to assist The Cairns Post and Townsville Bulletin newspapers manage not only load, but also publishing in difficult and trying times.

The infrastructure was already in place for these web properties, but the manpower and accessibility to publish was a critical issue, and through the night, ireckon staff were on board, assisting to publish content from reporters in the field and across the network and giving the teams in Cairns and Townsville much needed breaks.

To us, that’s just what we do.  As we always say we take partnering to a different level. We live and breathe the real time, dynamic nature of the web and take our role seriously with all of our customers. We aren’t your ordinary agency, we are so much more.

To us, we just expect that the unexpected is going to happen, so I guess in a way we are always planning for the unexpected.

Are you? Is your hosting infrastructure up to the potential you are aiming for, do you have a plan B in case something goes ballistic? You should!

Well that’s what ireckon!

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