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TAMU Webmaster's Blog


Information and insight from the A&M Webmasters

Lessons Learned

March 1st, 2010 by Erick Beck

I think it’s important to use events like last week’s weather advisory posting as a report card for how we are doing.  In this case, the incident revealed a few weaknesses in our procedure and server configurations that we need to shore up.

Within two minutes of the weather advisory being posted on www.tamu.edu we noticed the TAMU News server start to page incessantly, and within another minute it failed altogether.  This was largely the result of not devoting enough RAM to the virtual machine hosting the site.  We quickly changed the settings and the site did fine for the rest of the day.  This did alert us that we needed to check all of our other sites, especially emergency.tamu.edu, and make sure that they all were set to withstand traffic spikes.

It also made us re-evaluate how some of our pages are stitched together.  The TAMU News site, for example, generates much of its content from RSS feeds from across campus.  Assembling all of this dynamically slows the page down enough without having to take into consideration high traffic volumes.  I have therefore changed a lot of the code to pull the information into the page through scheduled jobs rather than on each page load.  I have also started introducing caching to the site to speed the overall load time.  Hopefully these will have noticeable benefits for everyday use as well as keeping the site viable while under heavy load.

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Monday, March 1st, 2010 News, Ongoing Projects, Programming
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