In mid October, eager music fans had mice at the ready to get their hands on tickets for the hotly anticipated Glastonbury 2017 festival as soon as they became available, effectively creating a website traffic jam. And in doing so, they managed to crash the website before the clock struck 9am, leaving many a fan irate and empty-handed. Mass-populated events such as Glastonbury 2017, which alone brings in around 175,000 revellers globally, not only demand a lot of people on the ground to coordinate the event, but also require a robust IT infrastructure to handle huge surges in web traffic that result from a general release of tickets. Failure to have either of these things in place can cause irreparable damage to revenue and reputation. As the popularity of these events continues to grow and online sales become the norm, with more than two million people logging on to snap up one of only 135,000 Glastonbury 2017 tickets, websites need to be optimised to cope with these predictable spikes in website traffic. Glastonbury is just the latest victim of scathing headlines about website crashes, but this is happening all too often because companies are ill-prepared for the influx of users flocking to their sites – in this case, from ticket sales opening. The website’s server cannot handle the numbers of people trying to access the same information at the same time causing a crash and rendering it unavailable to all users. With this in mind, online businesses should do their due diligence when selecting a hosting provider, or perhaps even think about using one in the first place to avoid the same fate. Glastonbury 2017 was in the fortunate position that a sell-out was guaranteed. For other businesses, downtime due to web traffic overloads or any other reason could have a more serious effect on success. To avoid this issue and create a resilient website that can handle peaks in usage during busy periods, it is vital to rely on an IT infrastructure that is both scalable and flexible. These characteristics allow organisations to be prepared in advance for predicted jumps in website traffic rather than having to cope in a crisis when things go awry. Flexibility will also allow infrastructure to be scaled down during lulls in activity so you only spend money on what you need. Additionally, many reputable hosting providers run continuous tests to ensure that peaks in website traffic do not lead to sudden and costly downtime, constantly assessing the infrastructure they provide to ensure continuity in the face of a real website traffic surge. To best improve your IT infrastructure and protect against financial and reputational damage, it’s important to pick a hosting provider that can successfully deliver performance and security while matching your service objectives. Performance is undoubtedly the foundation: your provider should be able to provide fully redundant data centres, hardware and network infrastructure to give you confidence in their capabilities in even the most extreme website traffice circumstances. With every business facing a variety of security threats, your choice of host will have a direct impact on the level of security protection you receive. Taking Glastonbury 2017 as an example with thousands of visitors trying to complete online transactions, it is important that your hosting provider is PCI-compliant in order to securely hold and process vast amounts of customer financial information. It’s also crucial to be confident that your provider’s service levels are second to none. Your website should be reinforced by immediate support whenever you need it – 24/7, 365 days of the year. Reputable hosts offer maximum response times of 20 minutes or less for a mission-critical issue such as a website crash. Ultimately, companies with online purchasing as a key component of their business model should work with a hosting provider that offers scalable options that promise peak performance during predictable high website traffic times. However, a reliable service also ensures connectivity and uptime even when unpredictable spikes in website traffic test the limits of a website with routine testing that will help to guarantee this. Whatever your current business goal – be it a new product launch, announcement or appointment – implementing accordingly will give you the assurance that your website can withstand the pressure. Jon Lucas is the director of Hyve Managed HostingImage: Shutterstock
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