Coffeehouse Thread

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What to do when the big hit comes....

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    Well baseball World Series tickets went on sale and the Colorado Rockies web site did not do well.

    What I am curious about is what a company is supposed to do when this big hit is imminent. Do you hosting companies let you expand infrastructure for short periods of time? Is this inevitable with any protocol or should something new be used aside from http for such big events? I have seen this even happen to MS when they were giving away Vista/Office 2007 stuff.

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    In pretty much every event, being able to keep your site up during a huge storm of traffic is going to cost a lot of money.  Obviously, architecting everything to be scalable is a good start, but at some point you either have to pay a host a heck of a lot of money (think Akamai and what they do) or buy a ton of hardware and huge pipe for the office.

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    I used to do streaming media; and we'd get big hits when new stuff was released (we let customers upload without our intervention).What we did was have a bunch of cheap (I need to watch my language) hardware as servers; commodity stuff, 1U servers, then have the content on the backend on NASes (because SANs were too expensive).So really it cost us very little to have extra servers; bandwidth, well, that was the killer. We had a nice geographic load balancing system (oh that was fun to write), so we could bounce users to a hosting facility in their country, but other than that we couldn't do anything.The bit that did the load balancing was optimised out the wazoo; it was as fast as possible; the slowest bit was logging to SQL (tens of thousands of hits a second at some peaks; well you spit into a table which has no indexes and worry about it after).For live events we turned to Akami; and let them worry.Some of the bigger hosting companies will let you have servers on demand; MOM does very well at running this (spin up a new WWW server from a template, add it to the cluster), but it's very very expensive.

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