Robin Schumacher

Learn a Lesson from the Obamacare Launch

By Robin SchumacherOctober 4, 2013

As all news sites reported (e.g. this article from CNN), the initial launch of Obamacare Web portals around the country this week went very poorly. Frustrated users, crashing systems, and other issues made very public the problems that nearly all Web companies know very well.

For online businesses, “success” can be a double-edge sword.

On the one hand, you obviously want lots of customers to be successful. On the other hand, make a mistake at forecasting your anticipated customer traffic and workload, and you risk giving yourself a black-eyed reputation right from the start and losing the very customers you’re courting.

Making things more difficult is the very normal ebb-and-flow personality of online businesses. Commenting on the Obamacare launch failure, Matthew Prince, the CEO and co-founder of web performance company CloudFlare, articulated the question with which all heads of IT infrastructure at online businesses grapple: “The hard question is: How much do you invest in preparing for this anomalous first few days, versus preparing for what’s normal?”

It might be the first few days of a new business launch, the introduction of a new and wildly anticipated product, or an upcoming holiday season – how do you future proof your online business so it’s always able to meet customer demand?

One key success factor is choosing a database platform that’s specifically built to serve online businesses that need to increase capacity at a moment’s notice and serve millions of customers like the ones who brought down the Obamacare web portals.

A example of this is BazzarVoice, an online Web content company that each month sees more than 400 million people view and share authentic opinions, questions and experiences about 20 million products in their network. They originally tried to build their business on legacy relational databases (MySQL), but quickly hit a scaling wall. They then turned to NoSQL technology and Cassandra as their big data platform and have since been able to handle their very serious online workload quite well.

To find out how DataStax helps online businesses avoid Obamacare-like disasters, see our ecommerce page for a number of helpful resources and download DataStax Enterprise, which has become the NoSQL go-to platform of choice for online businesses who want to ensure they’re always up and able to meet customer demand.



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