Tag Archives: capacity

The Anatomy of a Flash Sale Fail

5108445245_05c05b2647_b

Over Capacity? photo by Tony Alter (Flickr)

Capacity planning is not a black art. But when it comes to sites doing a scheduled flash sale or a person with a large number of social media followers (over 1mil) it can get ugly fast! I witnessed this today for a site that was opening up new memberships at a specific time. Their site runs on Magento and that is about all I know since they are not a client. To not help matters they were also using Cloudflare which just showed their own error message.

error-magento

So how can this be prevented? 

Magento and most LAMP applications like WordPress are known for not scaling very well. You have to leverage caching and CDNs along with using the correct config files such as my.cnf (MySQL) to optimize performance. Using default configurations will NOT do you any favors!

If using Amazon Web Services (AWS) you should be leveraging:

  • Caching
  • RDS Cluster (MySQL)
  • ElastiCache (memcached)
  • Auto-Scaling
  • Correct EC2 Sizing
  • Elastic Load Balancers (ELB)
  • CloudFront (CDN)

Getting back to the example that inspired to me write this. During the first hour the complaints on their Instagram were quick and heavy. Users even taking pictures of the Cloudflare error page and posted those in frustration. Needless to say it is not the best PR after building up to an event and getting more interest than you saw coming. After two hours they gave up and posted a page to postpone their event. With correct capacity planning and configuration of Magento this could have gone much better!

IG-fail

If you’d like help scaling your site please feel free to contact me or visit my company site – http://tarnover.com