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In August 2014, the BBC launched a new television show – ‘Our Zoo’ – based on the history of Chester Zoo and its progression over the last eight decades. While it was assumed the zoo’s website could handle an inevitable increase of traffic, it was a chance fortnight of good weather that was to prove otherwise.
“When the show was announced we knew we’d get a higher demand on our website than usual,” Martin said. “Shortly after it was announced, we had a couple of weeks where we saw a lot more visitors to the zoo, and we also had exceptionally high visitation on the website. However, we quickly realised a lot of those website users weren’t getting the great experience we were trying to deliver.
“With the TV show quickly creeping up on us we decided to embark on a testing period. We teamed up with website-testing firm SOASTA, and asked them to flood us with traffic until we hit breaking point. We found we struggled as soon as we hit around 2,000 concurrent users, but to increase our bandwidth on site would’ve been cost prohibitive, so instantly looked into alternative hosting options.”
Having met with UKFast in the past, Martin turned to the support team to help build a solution in what could’ve been a very restrictive time period.
“Other hosting providers had told me it would take three months to build the solution, but that wasn’t an option; with UKFast, I was asked what I needed, how quickly I needed it, and the team set to work,” said Martin. “Within three weeks the solution was built. The team had been focussed on getting the right solution, and there was never any compromise on the quality of the infrastructure. The solution we have in place doesn’t only suit our immediate needs, but also allows for future growth.”
Chester Zoo’s website is now hosted on a single dedicated server – optimised for its infrastructure – with UKFast. It benefits from a dedicated firewall, and 1GB of guaranteed bandwidth to ensure its website never becomes saturated again. And when the show launched, the results couldn’t have been more positive.
“We received 2,500 concurrent users during the first show, and hit 3,500 the following week, and the website never faltered,” said Martin. “We’ve also noticed a real decrease in page response times since hosting with UKFast – they’ve gone from loading in 0.5 seconds, to loading in under 0.1 seconds – and we’ve seen a huge mix of users across desktop, mobile and tablet which gives us huge hope for our digital strategy moving forwards.”
You can watch this video also at the source.