StarBase Blog

 

4.6 Million Wing-Less Money-Grabbers Crash Red Bull’s Free Cash Website

Author: Alan Moulsdale, Technical Director, StarBase


 

With the high-profile media coverage of Red Bull’s $10 per American customer compensation offer it was no surprise that its website crashed under the weight of 4.6 million visitors in 24 hours.

Red Bull Compensation Website Crash Explanation – How many visitors should the site have scaled to?

4.6 million in 24 hours is ~ 192 thousand visitors per hour, but as the offer was only available to American customers let’s assume that 80% (3.68 million) of the total visitors kept American time, and that 60% (2.2 million) of those visited the site over a peak 4 hour period after the news broke. So that’s 2.2 million visitors over 4 hours, or 552 thousand per hour (or 9200 per minute).

That’s a significant loPerformance Testing - red bull website crashad, how many did they expect?

Red Bull hasn’t said how many visitors they had scaled their site to cope with, but they were reportedly expecting 1.4 million people to claim the compensation over a window of 11 Oct to 2 March; that equates to ~ 10 thousand visitors per day if spread evenly. I would imagine that they had a media strategy for announcing the compensation, and they would be expecting the majority of claims to be registered in the early part of the compensation window.

Depending on the media strategy employed it may be reasonable to assume 80% (1.12 million visitors) would visit in the first two weeks. That would be 80 thousand visitors a day. And applying the same 60% during peak 4 hours rule as above we get 48 thousand visitors over 4 hours, or 12 thousand per hour (or 200 per minute). That’s only 2% of the actual load encountered!

Even if they had assumed that all the expected 1.4 million claimants would visit in the first day, they would still be out by a factor of three. And that’s the power of free money and media.

So what could they have done?

Calculating realistic volumes (volumetrics some may call it) is a dark art, especially if you have no historical information to base it on. StarBase always clearly mark our assumptions in any volume calculations and then verify them with any reputable source we can. Even then the volumes can incorrect, and the Red Bull example is just an extreme case of this.

To mitigate this risk of incorrect assumptions we always plan additional tests to find the scalability limits of the application we are testing. Our reports then quote both the performance at the anticipated peak loads and the headroom available in the application.

Red Bull guzzlers see red!

Did it matter that the compensation site failed – I would say ‘no’ – those seeking the compensation would merely try again another time.

Has the Red Bull website crash damaged the Red Bull brand – again I would say ‘no’ – in fact for the $13 million investment Red Bull has received worldwide publicity.

However, those expectant of a $10 windfall may see red as it appears in the event of more than $13 million being claimed, the $13 million pot will be shared equally amongst all the claimants – this currents puts the windfall at $3 per head.

Posted by:alan
alan
Technical Director, StarBase
Alan has worked for StarBase since 1997. He now has responsibility for identifying and formulating new products, services and solutions; and for evangelising StarBase’s solutions to existing and prospective clients. Alan architected StarBase’s Performance Testing Methodology. In addition to this being the foundation of many successful StarBase client projects, elements have also been adopted by blue chip organisations including companies in the financial sector and leading system integration specialists.

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