Tuesday, 21 August 2018 15:14

Need peak application performance on and off the dynamic sporting field?

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How athletes perform under load during major sporting events is akin to how dynamically your applications perform under load during peak times, but there is digital infrastructure that can do the job.

Major sporting events happen around the world every year, from the Olympics to the FIFA World Cup. As is obvious, events like these not only put the athletes to the test, but also the digital infrastructure that makes them possible.

Insight into how you can ensure your company can deliver a seamless consumer experience has been provided by Simon Horrocks, the regional vice-president A/NZ of AppDynamics

As Horrocks explains, "there is significant pressure on companies both before and during a major sporting event to ensure a seamless consumer experience, from ticketing to live streaming. The more fans who access such applications, the greater the burden on the underlying infrastructure.

"When applications struggle with the burden of heavy traffic, every minute of application downtime or slowed performance is met with increased customer dissatisfaction and frustration. Spectators at home don’t want to miss a second when viewing a live stream of a game, especially if it involves that crucial touchdown or goal.

"Problems with application streaming can leave fans yelling at their TV screens for the wrong reason."

To the rescue comes AppDynamics, whose detailed and freely downloadable (after free registration) 14-page PDF research called the App Attention Index shows that "more than a half of users who experience issues with an app will actually make the decision to delete it or find another one to use instead".

Real-time monitoring

Here, Horrocks notes that "to avoid downtime and other disruptions, streaming services, event websites and ticketing platforms need complete visibility into customer navigation of their application’s infrastructure. Only holistic and accurate monitoring of key performance metrics such as average response time, peak response time, error rates and the volume of users accessing the application will ensure an optimal customer experience".

"Ticketek is one example of a ticketing platform that understands the need for complete visibility into application performance during major events. Ahead of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Ticketek needed to be sure that its ticketing platform could handle the large volume of users, with over 1.2 million ticket sales being processed during the event. To help ensure an uninterrupted service for customers, Ticketek enlisted a monitoring solution to monitor its performance in real-time.

"Having the ability to monitor application performance in real-time meant that Ticketek was able to deliver reliability and scalability in a transactional capacity. Specifically, Ticketek was able to monitor its application-centric servers to isolate and resolve issues immediately, using correlated application-server metrics.

"Application performance metrics are critical to IT teams during these do-or-die events, but if this information isn’t articulated to the entire team, it bears little significance. Therefore, it is also vital to make the connection between visitor rush, technical performance, analytics information and economic success. This is important information that other departments like sales can use to assess their KPIs, such as load times, and conversion rates. In fact, a single second delay in load time will reduce conversion rates by 7%."

Load balancing

On this point, Horrocks notes that in the case of ticketing platforms, "the ability to maintain a balanced load is crucial during peak periods such as when tickets for major sporting and music events go live for purchase to ensure there are no application crashes. This includes all stages of the transaction from the initial ticket request, through the balloting process and onto the general public sales program".

"The challenge is in optimising efficiency in dynamic load balancing, and without the proper tools this can be challenging.

"During the most recent Commonwealth Games, Ticketek was able to handle peak traffic levels by performing load testing in production rather than in isolation. This allowed for optimal load balancing and ensured there would be no disappointment from customers over the website crashing from high demand levels.

"When delivering a digital customer experience, it goes without saying that the customer really does come first. The key to preparing for a major event is strong application performance through proper testing and monitoring. For ticketing companies, it is critical not to lose control in such moments as this will not only lead to an unsuccessful transaction, but also a loss of consumer trust.

"It takes years to build customer confidence in an application or service, but this same confidence can disappear in seconds – the time it takes for them to miss just one penalty or goal."

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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