Today Avanade’s CTO Richard Hall was in discussing the impact that BAA’s grounding of flights had on its website, which was down for much of the day:
When the public was sent to BAA ‘s website this morning to find out if their flight had been cancelled due to thick fog, the sheer weight of the traffic brought the site down for hours. Bloggers were aghast at the information void that ensued as the nation was told to go online to check if their flights home before Christmas were being grounded.
Organisations that we rely on in situations like this unfortunately don’t seem to treat web access as a critical function of the business. To the thousands of travellers stranded today, the prospect of not being with loved ones for Christmas was probably the most critical thing to have happened all year.
Organisations that foresee site traffic as intense as this should be better prepared. Websites should be tested to breaking point, with action plans to throttle usage as these limits are reached. It sounds basic but it obviously doesn’t happen enough.
In stark contrast, companies treat accounting systems, for example, as business-critical, but website access comes lower down the list of priorities. In cases as we’ve seen today, with international travellers wondering if they can make it home for Christmas, web access is the most critical system there is. Businesses have to reset their priorities now that staff and customers depend on web and email. What began as online shop window is now a key public service.