The countdown to Super Bowl 50 has begun. If you are like other sports-loving Americans, you’re probably ironing your jersey, ordering a platter of wings, and inviting all your friends over to shotgun some six packs.
If you’re like me, you’re flipping channels to find Animal Planet and waiting for the Puppy Bowl to begin (“Kitty Halftime” is my personal favorite).
If you’re an advertiser, tester or developer, you’re not celebrating the big game until it’s over. There is obvious entertainment in this big game, but it’s much more complex behind the scenes. Everyone is going to be tuned in on their phones, downloading deals, checking websites, tweeting, sharing, snapping, surfing, watching—so many things can go wrong. Advertisers are the defense, and they are rooting for viewers to turn to their websites and make sure that their landing pages can handle the load. For them, it’s the tech behind the game that leads to a victory.
David Jones, a field technical evangelist at Dynatrace, has some pointers on how you can be prepared from the start to the end of the Super Bowl. It’s critical to streamline your websites and make sure all ends of your program are suited up and ready to tackle.
Before the game…
First, fill up a plate of nachos and wings, and crack open your first beer. Game on!
The first step in having a successful Super Bowl is to make sure you have a plan in place. This seems like a no-brainer, but Jones said that most organizations only have a disaster plan in place. That is to say, they are expecting to fail. He said organizations need to communicate what the overall business driver of the Super Bowl is going to be. Are you going to drive traffic to a specific website? Do you want people to watch a video? Is there a coupon or product you are trying to promote? It’s not just an IT-related process; it has to include everyone—development, business owners, the QA team, operations, marketing and more. Everyone has to be working off the same plan—and not one that just sets up your team to drop the ball.
Take a look at what tools the organization is using. Is everyone speaking a different language? Jones said that using a variety of tools creates a war-room scenario, and your tools should not be siloed in the organization. They are as good as your best players, and those MVPs shouldn’t be forgotten. What happens if your rock stars leave? You could be spending hours or weeks uncovering an issue. The Panthers won’t give up just because Cam Newton tweaked his knee, so you must be able and prepared to communicate these tremendous amounts of data across all teams.
Jones recommends load-testing before the game. By now, most companies already have the code for the sites these ads will drive traffic to, but right now, he said that organizations should be heavily invested in external load-testing. Generate load from outside of the organization, test from remote locations across the globe (after all, the event is global), and do this up until the release. It’s not enough to test your internal QA environment; You need to also test your production, and above all else, test everything.
“If you just hope they are going to work, that, again, is a bad plan,” said Jones. “Hope is a bad plan.”
During the game…
Take a quick break and refill on the nachos. Make sure not to spill melty delicious cheese on the servers.
During the game, you are going to want to be proactively monitoring the applications throughout the entire delivery stack. Organizations need to make sure they have the right digital performance, making sure their tools are in place and they are monitoring every component that could potentially impact an end user, said Jones. That means monitoring everything like Web servers, app servers, database servers, and anything relating to the underlying hosts.
Don’t leave out testing the third party, Jones warns. “They will sneak up and get you.” Make sure all of their production capabilities are up and running during the game.
No more nachos?!
All eyes are going to be glued to the set during halftime. As we know, some of the strangest performances happen during this small break. People are going to be tap-tapping away on their phones or tablets, so the amount of mobile activity is definitely going to increase during this time. If something happens during this time, companies need to react fast. Monitor your data in real time, and this should be a primary importance according to Jones. If you are not monitoring in real time, you will not be able to “pivot and react” if something occurs. If you have a site that you are promoting and directing traffic to, you need to make sure you are using the right responsive design. Make sure you are delivering a site to mobile devices that renders based on what devices is being used. Note this as a “vital thing” to do, as Jones said.
As the game winds down…
Depending on who you are rooting for, you might be crying and/or cheering. Either way, crack open another beer.
You are only as successful as your company’s initiatives. For some, Jones said, it could mean keeping the lights on at the company. If they get a whole lot of traffic and their measures were successful, it could mean the company gets to add one more year of staying open. A lot of traffic could be a measure of success, such as driving sales of a special product specific to the Super Bowl. And, if your site doesn’t crash, you can celebrate by dumping buckets of Gatorade on all the coders. Congrats guys!
It’s a success based on what your company’s goals are, and if you follow this plan, you too could win the day.