This just in from my daily Google alert for website crashes - apparently after a new version of the site was launched, along with a marketing push, Barclays has had a number of issues according to John Oates of The Register:
Either the bank has been plagued with problems or a disproportionate number of Reg readers use the bank's online services. In July the service went down after a new version of the site, and associated marketing push, was launched. In June it lost its ATM network and watched its website crash twice. It had similar problems in October of last year too.
Of course, this kind of thing happens all the time; there's no use in singling out Barclays. A marketing push is usually preceded by a new version of the site, which ends up being a double-whammy : if the marketing push is successful, it can often overwhelm the servers and thereby nullify the entire campaign.
First of all, they should know that a successful marketing campaign can result in way more activity than normal, and in fact that's the whole point! This is where EC2 comes in, with load balancing and autoscaling that will handle whatever comes their way.
Secondly, even with the full power of Amazon's data centers behind them, if the app itself isn't scalable they will still have problems. This blog beats these two points like a dead horse, and yet they can't be overemphasized - cloud computing + cloud testing = success. Forgo either one and you are asking for trouble!
Finally, this is a BANK, not just a place to buy the cute little coats worn by the Obama girls or to check out the latest swimsuit fashions. When people can't access their money they tend to get very nervous (or at least I do).
So I hope the CIO of Barclay's is entering the right phrases into his or her search engine of choice. If so, this page will likely turn up along with an offer for a free CapCal Crash Test of up to 10,000 users on Amazon EC2!
Sounds like a jolly good idea to me!