In this article, High traffic website: case study, we are going to see how to set up an ad hoc solution for a high traffic site. We're talking about a site with 44 million page views every month, the biggest Made in Italy promotion project ever created.
Let's see the requirements to manage a high traffic site, what to consider and how we have avoided any possible problems in this specific case by focusing on security and continuous monitoring.
Table of Contents
The project " National branding campaign: Be IT"
The national branding campaign “Italy is simply extraordinary: be IT” is a project launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) together with the Association for the promotion abroad and the internationalization of Italian companies (ICE).
This is the first Made in Italy promotional campaign: a digital-first and content based operation which, in the initial phase, focused on communicating the values associated with Made in Italy across 26 target countries.
The campaign, launched on November 29, 2021, will run from the communication hub madeintaly.gov.it, until August 2022 and will be divided into two phases. During the first phase, starting in November 2021 and ending in March 2022, the campaign will focus on the values that distinguish the country: creativity, passion, tradition, style, innovation and diversity.
In April 2022, the second phase of the project will commence, focusing on the production chains of Made in Italy and the products of the various sectors that they comprise.
The second phase of the campaign will aim to promote exports abroad and encourage the internationalization of Italian companies.
Pomilio Blumm, leader of the RTI with LVenture Group, T-Mediahouse and Triboo Digitale, have chosen SupportHost as a technology provider to configure the server environment on which the communication hub and all the landing pages have been installed: a collaboration that has allowed us to have reliable services, complying with the high level of complexity of the content architecture, meeting the needs of the RTI and the client.
How to manage a high traffic site?
Usually, it is relatively simple to design infrastructure for a high traffic site.
You perform an analysis of the site, check the current traffic, make a traffic forecast, and then scale a server or servers based on known needs.
In the case of the "Be IT" nation branding campaign, it was a completely different matter.
We didn't have estimates, it was a brand new site that was going to be pushed across multiple channels, which gave us no idea about the volume of visits we could expect.
In addition to that, we were also going to expect attacks from hackers, on a campaign of this magnitude that is a non-negligible possibility.
Simply put, we had to create an infrastructure that was cost-effective, but at the same time would avoid downtime in the event of a peak in visits, due to server overload.
To overcome all these problems we opted for a 12 core server with a 128 GB of RAM, an aggressive cache since the site has static content and Cloudflare (for the cache and as protection from possible DDoS attacks).
This configuration allowed us to have a machine powerful enough to handle traffic peaks, but at the same time keep costs down for the client.
During the first days of the campaign, we provided dedicated support to Pomilio Blumm, in order to be as responsive as possible in case of problems and to be able to limit damages, especially during the speeches and conferences with important personalities such as Minister Luigi Di Maio.
Against this backdrop of great uncertainty, I won't deny that the entire staff was nervous, but in the end, everything worked out for the best...
We were a little concerned from a security standpoint, not so much for this specific site, but because a site with large volumes of visits is always more likely to attract attacks.
We have a disaster recovery solution on all servers. We offer best effort backup, but by having days of backup we are safe in case something happens.
We have secured the server, using non-standard ports, security software, dual authentication logins and more. I prefer not to give specifics on this sensitive topic.
We also used Cloudflare, both to take advantage of the cache and CDN, but also for the DDoS attack protection, it provides us.
As with all the other services we offer we have set up a monitoring system.
In order to be able to provide proactive support, we monitor all services on all servers with Zabbix, and monitor key services via ping, with a custom solution.
In case of problems, all our technicians are notified and the problem is solved before the customer can even contact us.
The results were totally unexpected, at least for us at SupportHost.
By checking the visits via Awstats directly from the cPanel of the server that hosts the site of the biggest Made in Italy campaign so far we see:
44 million page views per month which is about 1.5 million page views per day.
A very respectable result in terms of visits, for which Pomilio Blumm has all the credit.
We at SupportHost can only take credit for having created a structure that has allowed us to keep costs at an acceptable level, the same structure with a scalable service like Amazon AWS would have had costs about 10 times more.
Furthermore, are also proud of not having down-times during traffic peaks, which as I said were completely unpredictable in terms of volume.
The opinion of Pomilio Blumm
Our initial fear was linked to the novelty of the project: we knew we were facing a campaign of extraordinary dimensions that would be in the Italian and international spotlight.
In the uncertainty of such a project and without having any benchmarks, SupportHost has proved to be a reliable and dynamic partner, who is incredibly responsive and proactive. Apart from the first week, which required some necessary adjustments, we never had any problems and we know that we can count on their support practically 24 hours a day.
Preventing a website crash should be a priority. If you're looking for a technology partner for a high-traffic website, SupportHost is the ideal partner.
We set up a server to handle traffic spikes that we didn't know about, and no spikes were able to create any problems.
The site then reached considerable volumes of visits, and yet there were no problems.
Do you need a reliable hosting service for a high-traffic site? Contact us us for a personalized consultation.