Your website is suddenly very, very popular (think Black Friday or Cyber Monday). Millions of people are trying to get on at once. Can your system handle the overload? Learn how to prevent system overload, delays, and crashes on your website or app.

In terms of problems, system overload is one of the better ones for an online company to have.

It means you just have too many people on your site for it to function properly–a problem most companies would like to have. Even though a system overload means you are not having any trouble attracting customers, it is still an issue that can have adverse effects on your customers’ experience on your site.

You want your system to be able to support everyone who visits your website or mobile app without any delays or crashes. System crashes can have a huge impact on your consumer base online, as impatient customers can redirect themselves to to another site–a competitor, even–in a matter of seconds.

So what do we do? The answer is simple, and yet complex: create a system that works and monitor it constantly.

1. Understand Your System

The first step for any responsible, web-based company is getting to know and understand your system. When it comes to online business, knowledge really is power. A thorough understanding of your capacity, and what can be achieved within those limits, will allow you to design your system to fit that capacity precisely.

2. Invest in Testing and Monitoring

Next come testing and monitoring. It’s impossible to know what will work if you don’t test it.

A performance consultant can help you test your system rigorously and repeatedly to ensure it is optimized. Checking once prior to your launch just isn’t enough. In the world of e-commerce, things change rapidly: one moment, you may have a handful of customers every ten minutes visiting your website, and the next, your site could attract hundreds or even thousands of Internet users. For this reason, testing is crucial to ensure your site can manage any amount of traffic and that your users have the best possible experience on your site. A company like Apica can offer up-to-the-second real browser monitoring, so you can observe exactly what your customers are seeing at any given moment.

3. Implement Auto-Scaling

Teams report that pushing package builds and deploying updates are major delays. Developers and testers are so busy making changes to the application and making sure everything works that they aren’t taking the time to push updates as soon as they’re ready. These steps are not automatic and require a gatekeeper to apply changes.

4. Fear/Risk Related to Adverse Production Impacts of New Code

At first, developers are deliberate and methodical when debugging and testing their code. As they become more confident in their abilities, however, they spend less and less time testing until they screw up and release an unprepared update that leads to bottleneck number one. These situations create a rational fear of releasing bad code, but the experience can lead to an irrational response where teams refuse to release code without excessive, unnecessarily complex testing. This is as much an organizational issue as it is an infrastructure issue. The dev team needs to be confident in its programming skills, testing practices, and CI testing server to alleviate any fears.

5. Time Spent Creating Code

Writing the code can be a major bottleneck. This holdup typically stems from a combination of programming inexperience and platform unfamiliarity. It’s common for developers to work on multiple projects that require different programming skills. Problems also stem from poorly organized and documented application code. The best ways to resolve delays in the code creation process include training devs in the necessary languages and platform operations, as well as intelligently organizing, separating, and documenting code.

6. Manual Processes Supporting Code Movement Through Life Cycle Stages

Updates can fall behind if they don’t make it through the programming life cycle stages in a smooth manner. For example, when a code update gets caught in a loop between the analysis and design stages or the implementation and testing stages, it can hold up additional updates that are functioning correctly from making it through the process.

7. Lack of Testing/Quality Assurance Personnel

Teams also reported that staffing shortages in the testing and QA departments often hold up the process. In many organizations, the same people who write the code are also the ones who do the testing and QA work. Staffing shortages disrupt the assembly line flow of the CD process.

8. Lack of Testing Facilities, Developers, and QA Needing to Wait

The CI and CD processes work best when the development team is using a branching pattern to break off parts of the applications into smaller, more manageable chunks. Failing to do this can prevent QA staff from being able to test code because devs are holding back a feature update while working on other code. Updates can also be delayed because the testing infrastructure is unable to keep up.

9. Lack of Workflow/Automation Tools to Drive the Continuous Delivery Pipeline

Development teams report problems with workflow and automation tools delaying CD. The source of this issue is often a lack of high-quality tools available to help manage testing for constant updates.

For more information on how Apica’s stress testing and test automation solutions for high-performance applications can automate time-consuming parts of the development process, check out this white paper.

or see a demo of Continuous integration with AWS Codepipline.