When big artists go on tour, sites like Ticketmaster try to offer verified fans a frictionless experience, ensuring they can buy tickets without hiccup. But that’s not always the case.
On Tuesday, thousands of Taylor Swift fans were thwarted from buying tickets due to issues with verification codes and paused queues. Some fans were booted from the line entirely.
The Ticketmaster site issues began around 9:10 a.m. EST, with Downdetector's outage map showing the issues peaked around 11:30 a.m.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Ticketmaster said it was experiencing “historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets." Ticketmaster did not respond to CIO Dive’s questions but referred to its statement on Twitter. The company suggested that fans currently in the presale queue should “hang tight.” Ticketmaster also said it would push back further presale rounds.
There was, however, a sense of how big the tour would be — and how eager fans would be to see Swift perform live. The singer released additional dates for the tour two times over the past two weeks, in response to what Ticketmaster called "unprecedented demand."
The multistep presale process started last week when fans were required to authenticate their Ticketmaster accounts and sign up for a chance at the presale release. On Monday, selected fans received an email and text message from Ticketmaster including a link to the ticket portal and a verification code.
Fans took to social media shortly after the portal opened citing issues with the website. “I received a verified fan presale code but it won’t work now that I’ve gotten through the queue. Please help!” one Twitter user wrote. Downdetector’s comments section was filled with similar complaints.
For IT staff, large quantities of traffic can bring capacity issues. The first move after an outage should be to ensure the security and availability of the company’s data, according to John Annand, principal research director at Info-Tech Research Group.
“The playbook for your response ... will vary greatly with the underlying root cause,” Annand said in an email. “However almost all responses will require a clean copy of the corporate data.”
Before issues arise, companies can capacity plan by overprovisioning resources, but there’s costs associated with that. A system capable of handling 10,000 requests per minute is more expensive than one that handles 1,000, Annand said.
Chaos engineering is another tactic that businesses can implement when expecting out of the norm circumstances. The tactic works by pushing teams to deal with forced system failures and uncover weaknesses.
“A high volume of traffic increases the likelihood of some backend service having a degradation or outage for many possible reasons: flooded network capacity, spiked CPU, storage quota exceeded, etc.,” David Mooter, senior analyst at Forrester, said in an email.
There is a lot of complexity in distributed systems. Without trying different things, wrong assumptions can occur, according to Mooter. Businesses that implement chaos engineering are more likely to foster a culture that leads to asking more questions and thinking more critically about how code interacts with services and other teams.
“I would expect this would in some cases decrease the time to restore service since it builds more understanding within the team regarding system failures and points of weakness,” Mooter said. “This culture change also reduces the likelihood of fragile code being created in the first place.”