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FlySafair urges Panyaza Lesufi to take failing website to the cloud

Having experienced volume-driven web failure themselves, local low-cost airline FlySafair offers a helping hand as the Gauteng Department of Education struggles with #admissions2017.

The Gauteng Department of Education had to suspend new online scholar registrations for the 2017 intake again yesterday, after their website crashed under the weight of unprecedented traffic load.

Parents took to Twitter to express their increasing frustration as they struggled to complete registrations. MEC for Education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi announced a further delay, giving the department a new deadline of Friday to have the system up and running.

Offer to help

Low-cost airline FlySafair have raised a hand in support, offering to assist the department with insights they have relating to this challenge. This morning FlySafair sent a letter to the Gauteng MEC of Education extending an offer of any advice that they can provide.

“As a company, we are passionate about the need for education in this country, and our IT teams are more than happy to make time available to consult with you if it would be helpful,” the letter read.

 “We’ve been there,” says FlySafair

In August 2015, FlySafair held a sale where they offered up to 30 000 flights for just R1 including airport taxes. “The response was overwhelming,” says Kirby Gordon, vice president of sales and distribution at FlySafair, and despite our best planning efforts, our site was unable to cope with the influx of traffic.

” The airline managed to resurrect their site and extended what was supposed to be a one-day only sale, to a second day in order to ensure that the tickets were sold.

“The experience taught us a lot,” adds Gordon, who confirmed that the airline has since been investing in their website to prevent the same occurrence with future sales. “We want to be prepared for another big sale,” he said, hinting that they may need to sell tickets for R2 this year to cope with 2016 consumer inflation.

What can the department do?

According to FlySafair, there are two fairly quick strategies that the department is probably exploring to cope with the traffic.

Gordon explains that even if the traffic loads don’t completely crash the site, the number of requests to link people’s home addresses to local schools could be overwhelming the servers resulting in the odd matches that parents are complaining about on social media.

  1. Take it to cloud

FlySafair says that one way to scale the service more effectively would be to move the service off of a local server-based infrastructure onto a cloud-based platform. If the present system relies on a specific server stack, the amount of processing capacity available to the website will be finite in terms of what those servers can handle. A cloud-based solution will better spread this processing load across any number of servers worldwide, which could help the department greatly.

  1. Create a waiting room

“The other thing that can be done is to limit the number of people using the service at any one time” says Gordon. The best way to do this is to create a “waiting room”. He explains that this is the sort of thing we’ve seen ticketing websites use in the past for big concert ticket sell-outs. Essentially, the department would create a “holding pen” that would then feed traffic through to the website at a pace that it can handle.

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