Ops Team Keeps Bassmaster Site Reeled In

Each year Bassmaster.com tackles approximately 36 live events that feature some of best anglers in the world, and with a large fanbase following Fantasy Fishing and four levels of competitive fishing events, site functionality and stability are imperative to their success.

“You never know where the event will take the anglers,” said Jim Sexton, Chief Digital Officer at Bassmaster.com. “We started in Detroit for one event and some anglers went to Lake Erie and others to Lake Huron because of the quality of fishing at our starting location. This meant that reporters, videographers, photographers and fans traveled across the state to watch the action and we needed to make sure that our site didn’t fall down when the action was on the move.”

Aside from the 30+ events they promote and sponsor, Bassmaster.com also serves as the hub for “How-To” videos and content, as well fishing-related gear and apparel. Bassmaster has been an Acquia customer for over two years. As part of that relationship, Acquia provides Bassmaster.com with Operations and Support expertise.

Working with Bassmaster.com and reviewing their projected traffic numbers, annual growth estimates and event planning, Acquia Operations turns those into hardware implementations with associated sizing and scalability based upon the metrics Acquia gathers every day.

When Acquia partners with Bassmaster.com, we review their projections and compare them against every aspect of the site’s performance over the course of the prior two years of events. The Operations team will look at sizing and utilization, both peak and average, of the prior events and compare that to the anticipated volume and determine how the site should be sized for the event.

For example, when reviewing the projections if they say that it will be 25% greater than last year, we evaluate the MySQL slow query logs, CPU utilization (load and idle) and the number of PHP processes that were running during prior events to understand what that extra traffic would require in underlying hardware or even configuration. We may determine that the architecture might be better served going from a single tier, a pair of servers that are an HA configuration of redundant web and database servers, to a multi-tier configuration where the web servers and database servers are allocated to separate virtual servers. This also enables a greater ability to temporarily scale up (or down) as demand requires.

Because of our familiarity with the Bassmaster website we understand how it scales, their usage patterns (such as the balancer of authenticated vs. unauthenticated users) and even the timing of when traffic ramps up, we can provide a consultative approach to their configuration so that the architecture decisions are fully informed by a 360 degree view of the customer’s needs and their site visitor’s experience.

Bassmaster’s fanbase can range from 250,000 page views a day to several million page views per day, based on location and size of the event, and drama during the tournament, so making sure the functionality and flexibility of the site enables that success is key.

“The worst thing that could happen is that you’re in the middle of a tournament with the audience and traffic going through the roof and the site won’t load,” says Sexton. “I like working with Acquia so we don’t have those problems.”