Good U.S. soccer news means whale of a bad day for Twitter

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It was great news for U.S. soccer fans, and horrible news for Twitter. That news should resonate with anyone whose website has ever crashed from an overload of visitors.

Akamai estimated 11.3 million people were watching online coverage of Wednesday’s World Cup game between the U.S. and Algeria on its network worldwide. So, when the U.S. team beat Algeria with a goal in stoppage time to advance to the second round, it seems many of them wanted to share the good news.

On Twitter.

All at once.

That sudden deluge crashed the social-networking site, with its “fail whale” staying up for almost an hour. Twitter’s own blog reported, “Dealing with high whales (errors) as the result of high load. Ops and engineering are responding. Also go #usa!”

You can’t always predict spikes in traffic. And in business, it’s imperative that you be able to handle the unexpected. Which is why cloud-based infrastructures increasingly make sense. The ability to tune up additional server space as it’s needed, and take it back down when it’s not, is a distinct advantage. Of course, by outsourcing this capability to a third party, you rid yourself of the capital expenditures associated with doing it yourself.

In addition, by partnering with an outside provider, you’re able to gain additional insight and counsel that can help provide you with advice you may have overlooked. For instance, Twitter may have been advised to provision additional server space for the entire month of the World Cup tournament. (They may well have done so, yet been unprepared for the sudden flood of visitors.)

The lesson? Anticipate the worst, and enlist the help of those who can help you plan accordingly. Doing so may help you avoid your own “fail whale,” and keep your customers.

One more thing: Go USA.