The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

A Cautionary Tale –


The mass rush on state healthcare exchanges has led to multiple website outages since the marketplaces began taking enrollments last week. More than 7 million people are expected to sign up for insurance and this has put a strain on even, the ObamaCare website that experienced significant downtime, according to NBC News.

It is clear to us at SOASTA, by the types of issues consumers are experiencing with both the State and Federal health exchanges web sites, this past week that these sites were not fully tested. Of course we’ve seen similar issues in the private sector where companies did not test their systems at scale.

While private companies have long been concerned with website performance since quality user experiences drive consumer loyalty and the associated revenue, the public sector has not. It’s time for that to change. The outage at and the state exchanges are having a massive impact on citizens, affecting their view of the federal healthcare program and, in turn, state and federal government themselves.

In the case of ObamaCare, consumers only have one online option for health insurance. That’s fortunate, actually, as in the private sector those customers would have already purchased from a competitor.

As we have seen in the past, public and private sector organization are making the choice between speed and quality, which means testing is the last thing they do, throwing quality out the window.  With solutions like SOASTA’s, organizations can deliver both speed and quality.

In the future, the exchanges need to take advantage of the proven best practices for delivering new web sites.  These include:

– Continuous testing as early in the development cycle as possible, and all through the development process.

– Testing across environments, from lab to stage and into production, to capture issues that can be found most easily in each environment. Test frequency should match release frequency.

– Testing at scale to ensure test coverage across the entire application and the infrastructure, and including testing at a baseline of users, potential spikes in traffic and for the length of time users will be on the site.

It is unfortunate that the website have encountered so many problems, but once again it shines the light on the importance of user experience.  With these lessons learned we would expect all companies to follow a “Quality First” strategy.

Tom Lounibos

About the Author

Tom Lounibos

As CEO of SOASTA, Tom brings more than 30 years of experience building early stage software companies, leading two companies to successful IPOs. Tom is a regular speaker at both cloud and testing events, and has become a leading advocate in using the cloud to empower individuals and accelerate changes in how applications are built, tested and deployed. Most recently, Tom served as President and CEO of Kenamea. Prior to Kenamea, he was CEO of Dorado Corp., a financial services software provider. Previous to Dorado, he was EVP of Sagent Technology through its 1999 IPO, entrepreneur-in-residence at Crosspoint Venture Partners, and held executive positions at Digitalk Corp., Knowledgeware (KWI) and Encore Financial Services. Tom also serves on several boards in the Silicon Valley.