Welcome!

Cloud Security Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Ravi Rajamiyer, Shelly Palmer, Stackify Blog

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
Elon Musk is among the notable industry figures who worries about the power of AI to destroy rather than help society. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, embraces all that is going on. AI is most powerful when deployed across the vast networks being built for Internets of Things in the manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, healthcare, government and other sectors. Is AI transforming IoT for the good or the bad? Do we need to worry about its potential destructive power? Or will we...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.