A Royal Wedding, E-Commerce, and Autoscaling
The royal wedding this week was a global event, with an estimated 2 Billion people watching the ceremony around the world, but the interest did not stop on the big day with Harry and Meghan now being firmly encamped in the public eye.
There were all the usual commentaries about the couple, the royal family, and the guests, but nothing drew more attention than the outfits the newly created Duchess of Sussex wore.
The day after the wedding she attended a royal garden party wearing a dress created by a small British design house “Goat”, and within less than an hour their website had vanished from the internet under the mass of traffic.
In the world of hacking, or malicious behaviour on the internet one of the most common ways to attack and take down a website is what is known as a DDoS attack. This attempts to overwhelm the capability of the server that hosts the site with a vast number of requests from different sources. If all those requests came from the same place then it would be simple enough to prevent it by blocking that source, but when the requests come from a wide array of different places there is little that can be done to prevent them reaching the server.
This is essentially what happened to the website of the designer that made Meghan’s dress.
The only difference was that instead of the requests being made in a malicious way to damage the site, they were made by millions of people around the world looking to buy a dress just like it.
It was a business opportunity the likes of which most companies will never see, and the site’s hosting failed them right when they needed it most.
And so I thought it would be nice to take a look at what autoscaling is, and why having a professional company like Wirehive manage your hosting might be a good idea.
Cloud hosting works in a different way from traditional hosting in that you don’t pay for a discrete machine in a data-centre for your website to live on. You pay for a “virtual machine” that is part of a bigger, more powerful collection of machines. You can have the processing power you need, you can have the memory you need, and you can change it at the touch of a button. Previously if you needed more RAM then you, or someone you paid had to go into the data center and physically install more RAM into the machine. With cloud computing you simply change the settings.
What makes this even cleverer though, is not that you can predict you will need more processing power, set up your server to have more, and then watch it cope, but that if you have set up your hosting architecture correctly, and it is with the correct hyperscale cloud provider, then your site can simply have more resources when it needs them, and then stop using them when it no longer does.
So when a beautiful film star marries a handsome prince and wears your dress to a garden party and your website is suddenly flooded with people all trying to spend their hard earned cash with you they can. Your server needs more memory and processing power, and so it gets it. When the rush dies down and it no longer needs the additional resources you no longer pay for them.
Whilst this is clearly an extreme example, autoscaling is a genuinely innovative service that has real world applications for anyone who has a site where traffic is not 100% consistent, or cannot be accurately be predicted from day to day. Christmas, Thanksgiving, or even an unexpected celebrity endorsement can all increase the traffic to your site, all you have to do is to make sure you can sell to that traffic when it comes.
The alternative is to simply pay for the most resource you could ever need, and have it sit there unused, costing you a fortune. But that would be crazy. Autoscaling lets you have all the resources you could ever need, and only pay for the bits you use.
If you’d like to talk to one of our cloud hosting experts about how we can set up autoscaling for you then please get in touch.