By the 18th March, the situation around the world was making it clearer that our local authorities were going to have to come up with a significant response. We began receiving positive feedback from the public around our involvement hosting covid19.govt.nz, and a large number of people reached out to offer support and advice. Something I have come to realise over the years (and need to remind myself from time to time) is that things are always more complicated than they seem. As such we wanted to offer a glimpse behind the curtain of the work that went on at SiteHost supporting the covid19.govt.nz website that week.
The focus on the covid19.govt.nz website grew to a level of national importance with our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, directing the nation to go to the website on the 19th causing a sudden spike in traffic and the first of two outages. This occurred around 1pm on the 19th.
The team responded to the issue straight away, resolving the issue within a few minutes by assigning more resources and tuning processes to use the resources effectively. Following this incident we immediately realised that these were not ordinary times nor was this an ordinary engagement and a different set of solutions was going to be required.
While we had allocated some additional resources, the delays associated with autoscaling combined with the sheer scale of the spikes in traffic meant continuing without aggressive server-side caching was simply not going to end well. Limited control over the domain name and DNS for the website also meant a CDN solution was unavailable to us in the short term. A project plan was put together in the afternoon of the 19th for the implementation of server-side caching.