The Performance Beacon

The web performance, analytics, and optimization blog

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

An Internet record was shattered the other day and few Westerners took notice.

On November 11, 2012 – known as “Singles Day” and “Double Sticks” – during their annual half-off sale, one company, Alibaba, who runs the Chinese equivalent of Amazon,, took in over US $3 Billion (RMB 19B) in revenue.

This beats the total sales of ALL US retailers for Cyber Monday 2011 by $1.75B!

What kind of traffic is this? Well, a lot more mobile than in the past.

Here are some great stats:

  • 10 million visitors in the first 60 seconds
  • PC to mobile user ratio of 3:1 (up from 5:1 last year)
  • The first hour saw 7 million mobile users drive $16M (RMB 100M) in transactions
  • Total mobile transactions of $150M (RMB 940M)
  • 40% of China’s Internet users were active
  • Bank transaction flow exceeded six times usual traffic

Congratulations to Alibaba and Chinese vendors and consumers for such a record achievement! While there were reports of web slowdowns, shipping logistics issues and third-party service outages, executing on the biggest day of Internet revenue in history is a massive and landmark accomplishment.

What this says for large scale mobile and web site preparedness prompted my blog title – that famous line from Jaws. If you’re planning to continue to deliver business services to customers via mobile and web applications, you’re going to need to prepare for the inevitable – wild success! And not only will you need a bigger “boat”, you need to know in advance that the boat won’t sink.

At SOASTA, we built for scale in anticipation of the literal explosion of the mobile Internet. We harnessed the cloud early, as we knew that a major obstacle to testing at scale was ready access to hardware to simulate large numbers of users. Cloud was the perfect answer and a good choice for us. As the cloud has grown, so have we. In a tweet today, Tom, our CEO, reflected back to 2008 when Amazon Web Services had 1 cloud datacenter. Now they have 60, with the latest opening yesterday in Australia.

This Global Test Cloud is the “bigger boat” for mobile and web performance testing.  In addition, our ability to quickly dig into performance data while tests run assures that time is used wisely to fix issues instead of chasing their source long after tests conclude.  With access to practically limitless scale for testing and technologies build for the big data collected during large tests, compelling tests can be quickly deployed to simulate any real-world condition. For example:

  • Study and establish user experience baselines with real traffic from multiple geographies
  • Hit peak and beyond-peak load levels with real mobile and web traffic
  • Measure mobile user experience and hammer sites with a mix of mobile and web business scenarios from buying gifts to trading stocks
  • Tune your end-to-end infrastructure and third-party services for peak performance under stress conditions

The consumers of China have shown us the future is now. Regardless of how you test, it’s critical you do, and for those issues you will only find under extreme conditions.

If you don’t, the sharks may find you.




Brad Johnson

About the Author

Brad Johnson

Brad is a cloud-testing pioneer who joined SOASTA in December 2008. His former roles as head of test and monitoring products at Compuware, Mercury Interactive and Borland prepared him well to disrupt the skeptical and established software quality market with updated approaches and technologies for continuous web and mobile testing.