Handling High Traffic — Gotthard Base Tunnel

The internet is changing every second and the events which influence site traffic are a changeable as the weather. From one day to the next, a site’s traffic can fluctuate wildly, depending on what news story or fad event is trending.

At amazee.io we have experience handling high traffic sites, so the ups and downs of normal and event-based traffic is nothing new. This month, we stepped up our game to something much bigger.

On Wednesday, June 1st, we launched the Gotthard Base Tunnel project on amazee.io, just in time for their much anticipated opening ceremony.

If we look at its baseline traffic, the site clocked around 100,000 hits/hour prior to the event. When the official opening ceremony was held, the world press was all over it (the visual performance alone drove much of the traffic), and we registered traffic going up to nearly 900,000 hits/hour.

That’s a growth factor of 9.

This high of an increase in traffic isn’t normal for most websites and most hosting providers aren’t setup to handle this spike in traffic on an ad-hoc basis. Imagine you are a waiter at a coffee shop and on normal days, you serve about one customer every minute. Then one day a day a tech conference throws a one-day event across the street and your performance requirement spikes from one customer to now nine customers every minute. If you’re working alone, you’re in big trouble. If, however, you’re able to call in other baristas and a few additional espresso machines, suddenly your performance stress melts away.

This is exactly what happened to us on Gotthard’s big day, and we were ready. Not simply because we were anticipated this release, it’s always great to get warning, but because our engineers are monitoring the Cluster, ready to add additional resources if needed for traffic spikes, every day. Preparedness like this results in less scaling operations and more stability of the overall system. It also provides our clients the assurance that their sites will stay up, always.

High Global Impact

At the Gottardo opening announcement we saw a huge surge in traffic from all over the world. The top ten nations driving traffic to the site:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Germany
  3. United States
  4. Italy
  5. Austria
  6. United Kingdom
  7. France
  8. Netherlands
  9. Canada
  10. Spain

You may be asking yourself:

Do I need to prepare for a 10x increase of traffic?

This is a pretty common question, with a pretty straightforward answer. The answer is no. In some instances, you don’t need a blowtorch when a flyswatter will do.

Not every website can expect such drastic scalability demands nor do most sites need a constant “up” time. Financial institutions, e-commerce sites, and sites featuring live event coverage definitely do.

At amazee.io we have two service tiers (read more about our Stacks here). Gottardo is hosted on our Cluster, which is designed to handle high traffic without affecting performance. For sites requiring more normal traffic, we use Compact.

If you’re unsure which is the best option for you and your site, our engineers are available to review your site’s usage and identify the triggers and events which can yield a large amount of traffic. Feel free to get in touch with us via Slack or Mail, we’re happy to help!