is the national Swedish university application website. For this autumn’s application round the site had been upgraded to cope with the expected peak loads. has had performance problems on previous application rounds but this time the service functioned impeccably, despite a record number of applications. The Swedish office of University Services (VHS) and web performance company Apica have been working together for the last six months to improve performance and optimize response times at peak load.

Few sites have such extreme peaks as During this application round 10% of the applications were submitted in the last six hours before the deadline. Therefore, it has been a real challenge for VHS to find a solution that maintains stable response times under heavy loads. It simply has been very hard to find standard solutions for this type of web performance problem.

The new service from Apica is cloud-based and could be implemented by VHS without any changes on the existing hosting or operations platform. VHS simply rents external capacity management from Apica.

About the technical solution – Apica WebOverload ™

Apica’s technical solution essentially consists of two parts. The first part is a so-called http-acceleration solution, based on Citrix NetScaler, in front of the VHS web platform. This cache stores the most frequently asked questions, pages or picture elements. This means that they can be delivered to users via Apica’s high-performance delivery network without requests to the web server, which is subsequently freed from unnecessary load.

Secondly, incoming traffic is controlled and queued when a certain number of users is reached, so that “overload” users are being passed on to an external wait page. This means that web performance can be guaranteed for those who are “let in” because those “on hold” on the external network do not generate any load on the web server.

The service is delivered as a cloud-based Web service, ie. Apica’s solution runs at Apica’s data centers, which are independent of the client’s site hosting. All web traffic is routed directly to Apica’s servers where it is filtered and treated. The managed traffic is then forwarded to the customer’s web servers in a second step.

That high-performance web sites work with caching solutions for images is not new, but there is still no solution for busy databases and application environments, and extreme network capacity is often not available on short notice.

Our strength is that we deliver a comprehensive cloud service, which can be quickly and accurately configured for each application’s performance requirements. Apica WebOverload ™ delivers up to 3Gb / s dynamic load and 50 000 users in the queue.

The proof of the strength of our solution is that the overload part, which forwards users to the standby site, was activated only once during the application round and that the general web site response time was basically unchanged during the entire round. We guarantee faster response times under load, the overload function we see as an extra insurance, but you really don’t want to use your insurance if you can avoid it”, says Sven Hammar CEO of Apica.

More information

Product page Apica WebOverload ™