On Wednesday 7 February 2018, sirens howled for half an hour all across Switzerland. Thanks to Akamai CDN, the website sirenentest.ch, operated by aspectra, was able to cope with the rush of visitors without any problems.
On the first Wednesday of February, all stationary sirens in Switzerland are being tested for their functional reliability. Although the test is repeated every year, many people still get caught by surprise. Quite a few of them search the web for "siren test" and land on the website «Testing sirens» provided by the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP).
In a very short period of time, the website thus receives a multiple of the usual access requests. In the past, this has repeatedly led to the temporary collapse of the website as the web servers were unable to handle the traffic. This is of course not very helpful when trying to find out if the alarm is an emergency or a test.
This year though was very different:
Although close to 1 million accesses took place within a few hours and a peak bandwidth of more than 275 Mbit was required, there was absolutely no interruption of the services.
The content of babs.admin.ch was delivered primarily via the Akamai CDN. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network (also known as Content Distribution Network) and represents a network of distributed servers with the aim of providing scalable delivery capacities in the event of high load peaks. This took the bulk of the load off the on-premise web server and network infrastructure at aspectra. The Akamai CDN stores (= "caches") the static content of the website and transmits it to the end user. If the content of the website changes, the CDN caches the content again.
By the way: As of next autumn, alerts will also be sent via Alertswiss. In addition to the siren alarm, the FOCP also provides information on disasters and emergencies in Switzerland via the Alertswiss website, Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as the Alertswiss app. We are pleased to announce that the IT-infrastructure of Alertswiss will also be operated by aspectra.
Read here for more information on the benefits of the Akamai Content Distribution Network.