StarBase NME Case Study

Category: Case Studies


With one of the largest web business implementations likely to attract record users, NME knew that the

site had to perform. StarBase identified bottlenecks and was a critical element in a successful project



New Musical Express (NME) is a magazine of some repute. It has been around for well over 30 and

has one of the highest profiles of IPC Media’s stable of titles. IPC are a dominating figure in the world

of publishing. With 100 titles and a turnover of £350 Million they are recognised as the UK’s leading

publisher. The launch of a web site for a world-renowned title such as NME generally brings with it

stress and pressure for the project team but none are greater than the prospects of a high profile failure

in the media spotlight.

StarBase brought a sense of calm and logic at a time of frustration, drama and crisis  

– Andrew Simpson,IPC media Head of Technology


The problem

After a lengthy design process and a series of creative workshops the final design brief for NME.com

was tremendous. With many thousands of pages, hundreds of database calls and an expected 20 million

page-impressions per month it was shaping up to be a massive site.

The solution

The work that StarBase completed gave the NME team confidence that the site would be able to meet

the demand of the public. The system was designed as a complex content managed web site based on

Vignette Story Server and Oracle.


StarBase joined the project team late but with quiet resolve and a sense of determination they

discovered technical issues outside of their remit and began to shape the whole delivery. They

worked in every arena offering advice regarding work rounds for technical issues such as a slow

test environment to monitoring errors and offering advice on their resolution. In fact StarBase have

a multitude of capabilities. Their technical knowledge of Mercury Interactive LoadRunner is second

to none, but it is their knowledge of Stress Testing that makes the difference. Mercury is a tool that

they wield well but without the core understanding of stress parameters, potential bottlenecks and

deep understanding of IT systems, Mercury would be just another piece of software.

The results

The nme.com project went live on time and was a huge success, and subsequently won several design

awards. It was a success because it survived the initial peak and the ongoing daily loads. However, it is

not known for its success because of stress testing.

This went on quietly away from the public eye but without it:

  • The hardware would not have been sized correctly
  • Calls to the database would have been inefficient
  • Thread usage would have been inefficient
  • Load balancing would not have functioned properly

It’s simple - they think and act outside the box. Their frame of reference is way beyond other consultants as they have to bring everything into the equation in order to establish where a bottleneck may exist.  

– Andrew Simpson,IPC media Head of Technology


StarBase covered every aspect of the technical architecture and developed procedures to analyse how

the system would react to varying loads and numbers of users.


For more information on how StarBase could help you understand more about how a system reacts

to Stress call us.