Wednesday, December 26, 2007

QUIXTAR: Peak Web Traffic, Mixed Blessings

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Peak Web Traffic, Mixed Blessings
Posted by Steve Cole on Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is a great time of year. Although for some IT departments on the web, it can certainly come with mixed feelings....

For any parents with little kids, you would most likely know about Webkinz. Cute little stuffed animals that you can also register on in a virtual world and play games. Well, all 3 of my kids love these stuffed animals. They are always really excited to register them on the website. Once they are registered, they receive all the virtual frills and features that go along with owning a Webkinz.

Unfortunately for my kids, the Webkinz website seems to have fallen victim to the mad rush. Multitudes of kids trying to register and play with their new Christmas presents. For the last 2 days, we have had a hard time getting into the website without an error (usually 500 error) . I assume most of the problems were a result of the higher traffic volumes they are experiencing. It was apparent that the IT staff was trying hard to figure out where all the bugs were occurring. At times I could see debug tracing (used for troubleshooting) turned on, in what was likely an attempt to try and understand the problems. I felt bad for the IT staff members who were clearly working during the holiday trying to fix the website. I could certainly relate.

It looks like Webkinz ran into a problem we had to solve years ago. For Quixtar, we have 12 days out of the year, end of month, where the traffic volume on the Internet surges to peaks 3-4 times higher than any other day of the month. In the early years after 1999, end of month was very painful, both for IBOs and Quixtar IT staff. That was a tough lesson to learn. However as a result of the early years, we have stepped up to the challenge and we are doing rather well these days. We have spent a lot of time and money building a robust website that could manage those couple of high volume days every year. The Webkinz website likely also only has a couple days out of the year (Dec 25, 26, 27... :) ...where demand is at its all time high. I wish them luck as they tackle their current issues. I suspect that next Christmas the experience on will improve over this year's Christmas holiday as they ferret out their problems.

A number of Quixtar IT staff will be working through the evening and until the early morning hours this Monday, December 31 to do what we can to make sure your website experience is a good one at end of month. Even though, December is rarely one of our largest end of months...too much competition for New Years parties...we'll still be there to monitor the site. So thanks to those in Quixtar IT who will be working at the office into the New Year to support the business!

This will likely be my last post for 2007, so I would also like to wish you all a Happy New Year!


Tom Morris said...

As you can see in the next posting, Quixtar may not have to worry about end of month spikes, or at least they haven't had to worry about them since October.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the original post from Q/A is worth it. Click on the similar audience link. Do you see a lot of Team sites...