Online booking: how thousands of orders are handled a minute on busy days
With cloud computing, we’re able to deal with extremely high demand.
2 December 2013 at 9.29am | 4 Comments
We’re often asked by customers and other arts organizations how we deal with our big booking days. What’s behind our website, how does it work and what are we doing to ensure that ticket buyers are able to make their purchases quickly and easily.
The Royal Opera House is not the only arts organization wrestling with the challenges of online sales for Victorian-era theatres, or dealing with the demands for greater capacity online. As charities and non-profit organizations we are always mindful how we spend our resources and it is important that what we do is sustainable.
With this in mind, we’ve turned to cloud technologies to solve the problem. Cloud simply means ‘processing on the internet somewhere’. Imagine your home computer not being under the desk at home or in the office, but somewhere in Ireland and only being paid for when it’s in use. This is basically what we do but on a much larger scale. Through using cloud computing, we’re able to ensure that we avoid any unnecessary expenditure.
We use Amazon Web Services as our cloud provider, one of the largest providers in the world whose other clients include Vodafone, Ticketmaster and FC Barcelona (who, with over 98,000 tickets to process for every game, dwarf us in terms of capacity!). Amazon’s services are combined with Tessitura – our customer relationship management system – with both of these high-spec systems able to handle periods of high demand.
During our last public booking day we had 360 virtual computers (servers) available to us in the cloud. One hundred and eighty of these were in action and the 180 were held as a backup to ensure that, with a sudden increase in purchases, we were able to cope with the extra demand. A few hours after booking opened at 10am we were able to scale down to only four servers – such is the speed at which thousands converge on our site and then depart after booking.
The nature of cloud technology has allowed us to develop and improve. Making the website more stable has been our priority, and now we have achieved this we are working on new functionality such as our ticket search feature, something that you can now try out for yourself.
We’re looking forward to enabling an array of new functionality in the future, and always welcome constructive feedback.