Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Rostyslav Demush, Greg Pierce, Jamie Madison, Otto Berkes, Ayman Sayed

Related Topics: Cloud Security

Cloud Security: Blog Post

How the Aftermath of a Website Crash Helps Prevent the Next One By @Neotys

Be prepared for when disaster strikes

Imagine this nightmarish scenario:

A sizeable crash has just happened, and your company website has stopped functioning. It's a big deal, and you're certainly feeling anxious due to the loss of both revenue and reputation, but more surprises may lie in the aftermath. Any company that has experienced a catastrophic crash knows that it's like an earthquake. The same problems can strike more than once, just like aftershocks, shaking you off your feet just when you're beginning to regain confidence.

At Neotys, we know how important it is to figure out what went wrong and plan so it doesn't happen again. In this post, we'll look at some common causes of major website crashes, along with preventive measures you can take to avoid them in the future. With this extra knowledge under your belt, you'll be prepared when disaster strikes.

Why Getting to the Root of the Problem Matters
After a crash, you've likely taken a number of emergency precautions. For the purposes of this discussion, we're going to assume you've rectified the immediate situation and things are mostly back up to speed. Maybe you noticed one of these common performance problems and made an appropriate short-term fix. This certainly takes the burden off, but now you're faced with a tough question: How do I prevent it from happening again?

A cursory glance at the problem is simply not enough. Some people may be content once traffic has subsided. After all, if it was a spike in traffic that took your website down, once it goes away you'll find your site up and running again. Things may look okay, but you essentially did nothing. You aren't prepared for another spike, and you've learned nothing from the experience.

Best practices suggest you conduct a thorough post-mortem and identify the root cause of the issue. Let's go deeper into what exactly should happen in a post-web crash world - and what better way to learn than from the mistakes of others?

Remember Best Buy's Black Friday Crash?
The high profile example of Best Buy's crash on Black Friday is the perfect place to start. On one of the most profitable shopping days of the year, Best Buy's website went down for a reported two to three hours. The company reported a revenue loss of a few hundred thousand dollars. I don't know about you, but that's a lot of money to lose for something that could have been easily prevented by modern performance testing methods.

Best Buy placed the blame on an unexpected spike in mobile traffic. Seeing as the shopping holiday occurs every year, you would think that the company would understand and analyze the implications of this expected influx. However, Best Buy is just one in a string of companies that ran into trouble this past year. Netflix, HP, Foot Locker, Cabelas and a number of UK outlets (Currys, Argos, Tesco) all faced outages. The UK companies get a mulligan in our eyes (as Black Friday is a new phenomenon there), but maybe not in the eyes of their investors. Hopefully, they have all started preparing for next year. Here's what they should be doing.

Let's Be Honest About the Problem
There are several repeat offenders that cause web crashes. These troublemakers may include:

  • Software configuration issues for web servers, databases, or load balancers
  • Poor network configuration
  • Poorly optimized software code, for example, code that does not allow for concurrent access.
  • Insufficient hardware resources or lack of auto-scaling elastic computing.

Cloud server migration is another up-and-coming problem. HP found itself in hot water with this one, which is a bit ironic seeing as how the company is trying to position itself as a provider of cloud solutions. Its content delivery was served correctly, so that wasn't the issue in this case. It was on the back-end, and most likely due to failure under load.

Making Crashes aThing of the Past
Whatever the issue, you've got to assume that if it happened once, it will happen again. Just because your site is up and running again, doesn't mean you can ignore that root cause. Identify it, and plan for next time.

Once you think you understand the core issue, don't stop at the initial, immediate solution. If the problem was disk space, first determine why you ran out. Of course you'll want to install more storage. However, you still must discover why you incorrectly estimated how much you needed. Going through these steps will help you realize the precise solution and improve your data modeling.

Your solution may include fixes to the hardware environment or the software code; it may also include new procedures and automated reports for monitoring status. Don't just put a band-aid on the situation - heal the real problem.

Next, look for ways to recreate the issue in a controlled way. For example, simulate a large number of users stressing the system through a variety of realistic load testing scenarios. Focus on scenarios that:

  • Have been known to cause problems in the past
  • Are new and untested
  • Are likely to produce bottlenecks
  • Involve complex transactions
  • Are critical paths for users

These scenarios are crucial for discovering how your website reacts with abnormal amounts of load. By simulating user performance, you'll be able to review how tasks and transactions will function for your real users. Keep repeating these tasks and changing certain variables to ensure application reliability. Gather information throughout the year, and tweak your scenarios as much as possible.

Expect the Unexpected
If there's anything we can learn from online disasters like Best Buy's crash, it's to expect the unexpected. Much like a natural disaster, a web crash often catches us off guard when we least expect it. However, being prepared starts by acknowledging the possibility of a crash. Next, build your safety kit by analyzing the root causes of past problems and developing realistic load testing scenarios. Finally, continue to test, retest and configure variables. That way, when you feel the first wave of a potential disaster, you'll know what to do and hopefully prevent a crash.

More Stories By Tim Hinds

Tim Hinds is the Product Marketing Manager for NeoLoad at Neotys. He has a background in Agile software development, Scrum, Kanban, Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Testing practices.

Previously, Tim was Product Marketing Manager at AccuRev, a company acquired by Micro Focus, where he worked with software configuration management, issue tracking, Agile project management, continuous integration, workflow automation, and distributed version control systems.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.