Sites that Cannot Fail -- One Night, Millions of Viewers

April 6, 2015
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What does it mean to have sites that cannot fail? How can Acquia make sure that when that big day of traffic or engagement comes, we continuously deliver an experience to our customers that we promised?

In this blog series, we’re showcasing what it meant for three of our largest customers to have a site that could not fail. We’ll highlight both business and technical preparation, continuous improvements, platform insights, and the importance of always listening to those providing feedback on the experience.

The Story

Imagine you had one chance to deliver an incredible experience; 364 days of preparation have led up to one point in time where award nominees and community supporters alike gather to see who will win, while millions of viewers go to a website to cast their votes.

Each year, a major awards show (one of three on the Acquia Platform) is tasked with delivering an exceptional digital experience with massive amounts of pressure on execution and delivery for the millions that visit its website.

2015 was no different.

Since the awards show has an agreement with advertisers and sponsors, as well as millions of users on various devices demanding content at their fingertips, the website simply could not fail.

Weeks before the event, the awards show’s digital team worked with Acquia to improve their web caching strategy, which ultimately improved the speed and efficiency of the site pages people were visiting.

With enough preparation and lessons learned from past event data, the awards show delivered an exceptional digital experience to compliment the live action millions were tuning in to see.

A recent global survey of more than 500 businesses for the Reducing Customer Struggle report found that companies are losing nearly a quarter of their annual online revenue due to a bad website experience. That’s billions of dollars lost and customers who won’t come back because of a digital experience that left a bad impression.

Whether you’re an awards show preparing for your biggest night of the year, an enterprise facing transformation in an industry where digital transformation is lacking, or a smaller brand on the cusp of breaking into a new market, your digital presence can’t fail.

When your big night is the first and last interaction you will have with your customers, Acquia will help make it heroic.

Another happy result of Acquia’s involvement with the awards show: it was the first year the manager of the website could actually go and watch the show without having to be in the basement with the rest of the web team.

That’s confidence.

Behind the Scenes

When it comes to capacity planning, some organizations plan for a worst-case scenario. They purchase larger-than-necessary capacity to be permanently available. But this is wasted money. Conversely, some organizations under-plan for traffic. Without the means to increase capacity on demand, they suffer outages and, ultimately, loss of revenue.

With Acquia Cloud, the guesswork is eliminated. You only pay for what you need. Acquia Cloud scales with burstable and elastic resources, which can be added quickly and easily on demand. Our operations team can scale up resources for any period of time, and then return resources back to normal levels when traffic subsides.

We know that scaling is complex, so we do the work for you. We add resources in real time to address changing traffic conditions seamlessly when a site needs it most. Scaling on Acquia Cloud does not require risky architectural changes like migrations and resizing. But we do scale the ecosystem, not just the hardware. We scale across all layers of the environment––web servers, file systems, databases, and load balancers. The architecture scales across the MySQL database layer using data replication and the file system layer utilizing GlusterFS to ensure syncing. The web server layer is scaled up by running active web servers in multiple availability zones. We run dedicated Memcached servers for sites with high workloads and multiple load balancers to ensure traffic is distributed. This level of Drupal-aware customization doesn't exist outside of Acquia.

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As part of the scaling enablement strategy, it is important for customers to have a site insulation strategy so that visitors are not aware of traffic increases. Acquia uses Varnish caching in front of all traffic to speed up sites. Additional features such as geolocation, mobile redirection, and CDN implementation can be enabled. Acquia has over 25 personnel across our Professional Services, Technical Account Management, and Support organizations who specialize in performance, focusing load testing, database query rewriting, stack tracing, and more.

At Acquia, our passion is customer success. Because of that, your site doesn’t become the next headline. Your best day doesn’t become your worst; your biggest events are uneventful behind the scenes. In essence, we don’t sleep, so you can. Our team of experts is on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year so that you don’t fail. You get a true partnership with Acquia.

No matter the time of day, or the size of the traffic spike, we have your back. So instead of downtime, your traffic spikes yield growth and success.

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