Posts Tagged ‘emergency’

website performance during breaking news

Thursday 26 February 2009

crashBreaking news makes people turn to the internet for every bit of latest information. This causes enormous traffic spikes in news websites that report on the event and on organisations that are directly related to the event. After yesterday’s crash of a Turkish flight in Amsterdam we saw a multiple fold increase in traffic in one of the news sites we monitor. 

For the site I estimate traffic yesterday was at least 100 times the traffic of a normal day. Handling such amounts of traffic requires special planning. Tweaking performance is then often not enough and placing excessive hardware is too expensive. An alternative option many websites have ready is to switch your website to a secondary state. Your pages should contain less content, must be simpler to load with less images, scripts and css. Also get rid of dynamically composed pages, make use of a small set of static pages you refresh each minute from your Content Management System. That way even a simple architecture of a few front end web servers must be capable of serving 100 pages per second. It also helps when you website is hosted in a professional hosting facility where there plenty of room to spike in network traffic. Hosting providers like Terremark are now experimenting with cloud type infrastructures where you can get capacity on demand.

 Schiphol put up a special site within one hour of the crash. This means this must have been part of their emergency response plans. So a job well done.


Website performance during a emergency situation requires you to plan ahead. You will see website visitor traffic levels you have never seen before. If you are a news organisation this is the time people need you most, be sure you are there for them. If you are an organization involved in an emergency situation, your brand is at risk, having adequate and available information on the Internet is of crucial importance. Handling these amounts of traffic is not very difficult, but it requires different setup and tools you normally use. So make sure you have them ready when you need them. And test them regularly to make sure they still work when you need them.