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Web Performance Load Tests Comic-Con Badges

If you’ve ever seen TV’s The Big Bang Theory, then you’ve seen the feeding frenzy that represents millions of comic book fanatics trying to buy 130,000 Comic-Con badges at the exact same time. If not, do yourself a favor and watch this very funny scene:

OK…got the picture?

In years past, the Comic-Con ticket site has frustrated would-be buyers with a number of crashes, error messages and missed opportunities. Not cool when you’re competing against hordes of other fans and your entire comic book universe hangs in the balance.

To keep everything running super smooth this year, Event Planning International Corporation (EPIC)—the company that runs ticket sales—called on Web Performance to load test the site and prepare for the enormous traffic spikes that define Comic-Con registration.

And this time, they passed with flying colors.

Refresh! Refresh! Refresh! Refresh!

Comic-Con represents the worst-case scenario for any website. As the event’s popularity grows, so does the load on its ticketing servers. This year, as many as 900,000 visitors competed for 130,000 tickets—all at the exact same time.

Normally, talk of 900,000 users is in the context of e-commerce. In most cases, only 0.1% of a site’s visitors hit the “buy” button at any given time. Not so with Comic-Con. When the Buy Now light goes on, our heroes pounce in waves hundreds of thousands strong and counting. It’s a website’s version of the perfect storm. And it’s an incredibly difficult situation to handle and test for.

To generate the necessary number of virtual users, we had to configure Load Tester for 450 load-generating computers in the cloud dispersed all over the country. Fortunately, since Load Tester automates configuration, we finished setup in about 15 minutes. However, the testing itself required several days of work to identify and fix configuration issues to ensure a fast, error-free experience for ticket buyers at every click.

How fast? All 130,000 Comic-Con badges sold in just 90 minutes. As usual, some people came away empty-handed. That’s the simple, sometimes heartbreaking mathematics of Comic-Con. However, every single visitor experienced fast response times with zero timeouts or errors, which is a testament to EPICs reliable ticket server—and a testament to the power of Load Tester.

 

 

 

 

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