Skiddle scales for massive traffic

Our recent 2013 roundup post might have given you an impression of how busy a site like Skiddle can get, with us now being well within the top 500 busiest UK websites. With around 2 million unique visitors each month checking out our events guides or buying tickets, it’s our priority to ensure Skiddle remains a fast, user friendly and secure website to use. We have a team of developers working full time on improving our services (working in the aptly named ‘Code Cave’).

But that’s just half the story. You will have heard of large events which sell out in just minutes. As a ticket outlet, our traffic can be hugely variable, with massive traffic peaks due to popular events and busy onsales. This makes my job of keeping everything ticking, all the more challenging!

Two years ago we decided that our existing infrastructure, while holding out well, was not futureproof to deal with our massive growth. It used to take us weeks to provision new servers and this just wouldn’t cut the mustard when we can receive only a few days notice of a busy event going on sale.

So we became one of the first ticket outlets in the world to take advantage of Cloud Technology. Investing heavily in our backend systems, we started using virtual servers to host what you see on Skiddle.com and re-engineered and improved most of our systems. As an analogy, we went from owning a couple of trusty Ford Focus’ to having a garage full of  Ferrari F70’s.

What does this mean? Well we can now change the number of servers we are using behind the scenes within minutes, allowing us to scale up to cope with massive demand, then back down to save costs during our quiet(er) periods. Reassuring for our 35,000 event promoters who rely upon us to promote and sell tickets for their events.

This has worked exceptionally well for us, helping us deal with several high profile onsales with zero downtime. In fact, our uptime over the last 6 months has been 99.995% or higher (I don’t have figures available for other ticket agents, but a quick search of twitter or news sites will show lots of downtime during similar periods).

The last piece (for now) of this jigsaw was to automate this process, allowing us to cope with unexpected busy periods that we may not have prepared for. Using the AutoScale product from our cloud hosting provider, along with some clever custom coding, our backend infrastructure now grows and shrinks with the ebb and flow of our traffic. In fact, the number of servers we’re running on can change as often as every 20 minutes – a long cry from the old days!

So whether your upcoming event is for a couple of hundred house heads, or 50,000 pop fans, make sure you pick a ticket outlet that can keep up. Skiddle certainly can!