DISCLAIMER – This post has nothing to do with the sad demise of ‘The King of Pop’, if you want more on that go here.
The huge swell of internet traffic which followed Michael Jackson’s death and the rapid transmission of that news around the Western world (it caused less ripples in previous trending topic leader, Iran) was unprecedented.
I blogged some time ago that Twitter’s killer app was Real Time Criticism. I was referring to TV shows at the time. It seems though that Real Time Obituaries are also live events (no pun intended) which people can now, thanks to social media, interact with, as oppose to passively consume. This causes traffic, often a good thing, but it is not black or white.
Today’s furore about the very popular TechCrunch site was sparked by Twitter closing off some functionality. In effect it seems that Twitter’s engineers ‘turned off the fire hose’ by disabling its search function showing a degree of pragmatic proactivity. But can you ever predict such surges and plan for them? Are you a bad engineer if you disable features that may bring your site down? If you want to ration bandwidth, what is the logical way to do it?
The technology to sort these issues out exists. Let’s not forget that Denial of Service attacks had many of the same features. Today’s Transaction Performance Management applications allow you to trend, set thresholds and avoid panic measures. The lesson for Enterprise and Comms software providers (who ultimately power such communication) is to get ready to serve the market for managing unpredictable demand peaks. Ultimately network traffic about popstars or regime change is a real and ongoing business risk. The lesson for IT professionals is to make your mind up what your plan is ahead of time.