Managing traffic spikes during the 2018 World Cup with the OVH Public Cloud

As the FIFA World Cup kicks off in 2018, websites dedicated to the game will experience their most significant traffic spikes.

Nicolas Capeyron created Sysadmin Badass in 2009. His job is to administer web-oriented servers and manage the infrastructure architecture of his clients: e-commerce websites, tourism-related websites and SaaS-based software publishers. For one of this clients, media website SoFoot.com, he decided to use OVH’s public cloud solution and he explained to us the reasons behind this decision.

Nicolas Capeyron: I administer www.sofoot.com, a news website dedicated to football and hosted by OVH for many years. The website’s audience is growing and, during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the recent Champions League Final, we needed more capacity than the infrastructure could provide. We usually have around 100,000 to 150,000 unique visitors per day. This number can double or even triple during big events like the FIFA World Cup. At these times, the number of requests per second can be up to 20 times higher than average. That is because Live SoFoot and its match analyses are really popular and widely discussed. The capacity to withstand peak loads is therefore essential to our business.

So did you choose the Public Cloud in order to be able to handle these peak loads?

N.C.: So far, during the World Cup and Champions League, we migrated the website to a more powerful front-end and then implemented some optimizations. The operation was fairly simple and inexpensive, but it had certain limitations. For example, we couldn’t guarantee that the load would stay within the technical limits of the server. The website had neither high availability nor load balancing and, with limited development time available before the World Cup, we could only carry out the bare minimum of technical adaptations. However, we had to get the most flexible and elastic infrastructure possible in order to be capable of absorbing sharp spikes in traffic. So I investigated the various cloud offers on the market. I discovered OVH’s Public Cloud offer during the tennis World Tour in Lyon, tested the service and thought: bingo!

How did you integrate the Public Cloud into your architecture?

N.C.: We have built an architecture that is designed to combine availability and cost-savings. The IP load balancing service shares the requests between two dedicated servers equipped with HAproxy. They in turn distribute the traffic to three other physical dedicated servers, to which five Public Cloud virtual machines of varying weights are attached. We have added the availability of the IP Load Balancing solutions and of the OVH network to the power of the HAProxy configuration in order to address all the front-ends we have at OVH. In this way, we are able to serve all of the website’s 60 GB of static data extremely quickly.

So does the Public Cloud meet SoFoot’s requirements?

N.C.: Yes, we are really satisfied. Network and storage performance rates are impressive, and these are crucial factors for SoFoot. Each of our front-end servers can now support both the website and a copy of all the static data. Obviously, it also absorbs the additional loads during traffic spikes. Moreover, the choice of a standard like OpenStack allows me to use regular DevOps tools such as Vagrant or Puppet. In short, we get the benefit of excellent performance, an innovative cloud solution and the best value for money on the market. If we had tried to obtain an equivalent service from one of OVH’s competitors, we would have ended up with a significantly more expensive solution or even had to pretty much overhaul the functioning of the website.