Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Letters / Not throwing bricks at you

Unfortunately, the Monday 21 March opening day of the Shetland Folk Festival’s (SFF) booking system was a complete fiasco.

The SFF server was totally incapable of handling the demand for purchasing tickets, and responded just as if it were the victim of a DDS (distributed denial of service) hacking attack.

It took me over an hour to book my tickets, with at least a dozen outages in the process, forcing me to restart the process from scratch. Extremely frustrating for all those trying to use what should have been a simple and painless process. 

I was an executive consultant IT architect, which makes me reasonably expert in this field, as I’ve designed and implemented quite a few commercial web applications with vastly more traffic than the SFF website.

So SFF IT guys, a few messages, intended to be helpful for next time, not a criticism:

1) Estimate the likely peak traffic of any system you intend to implement  – for example, with an event as popular as the SFF, expect more than half of ticket sales to occur in the first hour. 

2) Flood test your server to see if [it] can handle that peak load (by the way, it couldn’t, by a very large margin).

3) When your server can’t manage the predicted load, find a 3rd party cloud computing service (yes that’s what cloud computing is all about) to host your ticketing application for the first 24 hours or so, under a ‘Platform as a Service (PAAS) deal. It shouldn’t cost much for such a short time, and will probably remove a great deal of egg from your face. 

I’m not throwing bricks at you; water under the bridge. I’d be glad to help planning next year’s event. 

Clive Gee Ph.D

Merrylaw, Wormadale

clive.gee@gmail.com

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