Scaling to Survive the “Hug of Death”

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It's the moment you've been dreaming of... some massively-popular site links back to you and sends tons of hits to your website. Only it quickly becomes a nightmare for a lot of sites because they're not prepared for the onslaught.

“The Slashdot effect, also known as the ‘Reddit effect’ — or receiving a ‘hug of death’ — occurs when a popular website links to a smaller website, causing a massive increase in traffic. This overloads the smaller site, causing it to slow down or even temporarily become unavailable. Sites that are maintained on shared hosting services often fail when confronted with the Slashdot effect.” (Wikipedia)

It’s the moment you’ve been dreaming of… some massively-popular site links back to you and sends tons of hits to your website. Only it quickly becomes a nightmare for a lot of sites because they’re not prepared for the onslaught.

Scalability – the ability for a website to expand its capabilities to accommodate additional loads – is important. If your site’s growth is slow and steady, you can afford to take your time scaling up. But if you’re slashdotted, every passing minute of painfully-slow response times could mean hundreds of missed opportunities.

Because we use containers in highly-available clustered environments, we can literally scale up in minutes. We decided to do a little test to show how we handle scaling, and we’d like to share that with you.

With this site running a single instance, we used Vegeta to hit our site 50 times a second over several site pages. This is a sample of the output:

As you can see, we maxed at around nine seconds, a response time that is way off the mark of what we consider acceptable.

We then scaled the site up to four instances and re-ran the test. This is the output from the second run:

It’s worth noting here that the entire scale of measurement has changed: we’re not looking at seconds anymore. The maximum response was under a half-second.

What’s exciting about this is that we were able to make this change in about two minutes. And while in this example we went from one instance to four instances in under two minutes, we could have been bumping to six or nine or more if we’d needed.

Your site might never get a “hug of death,” but you might want extra juice for, say, a Cyber Monday for your online store or a new release of your mobile app. With our maintenance-included WordPress-as-a-Service offering, you’ll be ready for whatever traffic comes your way.

Kenn

Kenn

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We’re KMD Enterprises, LLC, a tech firm located in “Gig City,” Chattanooga, Tennessee, founded by experienced IT professionals who work with and love WordPress and the web.

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