Why Star Wars Mania Didn’t Bring Down Movietickets.com

Why Star Wars Mania Didn’t Bring Down Movietickets.com

After Star Wars fans ‘broke the internet’ in October, Movietickets.com had two months to get its website ready for the movie’s opening weekend.

Industry: Entertainment
Location: US
Employees: 1,000
Use Case: Load Testing to Prepare for a Major Event

About Movietickets.com

Movietickets.com is a global leader in online movie ticketing, celebrity news, and movie reviews. Moviegoers can quickly and easily buy tickets for over 240 international theater chains from their desktops, mobiles, or car infotainment systems.

The Challenge

The Star Wars movie pre-sale in October 2015 crashed ticketing websites across the globe. An unprecedented number of fans flooded sites after the trailer was broadcast during Monday Night Football - two months before the movie premiere.

Pre-sales for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” shattered records. For Movietickets.com, the ability to withstand huge traffic spikes on the opening weekend was vital. With two months to go, the company decided to migrate from a classic datacenter to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and leverage the power of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure.

The infrastructure upgrade made it easier than ever for Movietickets.com to scale up and down according to demand, and secured Amazon as a key partner in the company’s continued success. However, Movietickets.com still needed to test its new cloud-based infrastructure to ensure it would perform optimally under stress.

“People today have really high expectations on how a website performs. Performance is everything. If we can’t serve pages quickly, our customers will go somewhere else. Load testing with BlazeMeter enabled us to meet those expectations.”

Craig Lefkowitz, Director of Infrastructure Systems, Movietickets.com

Load Testing for 300,000+ Concurrent Users

Movietickets.com’s IT team had already used various load testing tools, including JMeter and BlazeMeter, for major redesigns and architectural changes. The team didn’t want to ‘mess around’ with any new or unproven testing tools. As the ‘de facto’ standard tool used by everyone in the industry, BlazeMeter offered the team the security they needed to load test their site for such a crucial event.

The team started their load tests with a target of 30,000 concurrent users, bumping it up gradually as the infrastructure filled up on Amazon. By the end of the testing period, they were able to serve ten times that amount - more than 300,000 concurrent users at any given time.

The Results

On the opening weekend of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, the Movietickets.com website was able to cope with massive traffic spikes and meet customer expectations. The IT team was able to serve content expediently regardless of the volume of traffic, and the company was able to maintain its reputation as a fast and easy ticketing merchant, and profit nicely from a major movie event.

Now that the company has moved to AWS, it has the ability to expand exponentially. The only question that remains is how far it wants to stretch that rubber band. Ongoing testing with BlazeMeter will help the team ensure that any changes to the architecture won’t affect their ultimate goal of serving pages quickly and maintaining customer satisfaction.

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