Buju Banton’s upcoming concert may be hot! But so is the only portal selling tickets for it. Right after tickets became available on the website (CaribTix) it became inaccessible to patrons. We assumed it was the traffic but your guess is as good as ours. Two hours later, the ticket listing on the site was again accessible but it showed VIP, general, grandstand and bleachers early bird tickets as sold out.
As IT professionals with deep experience in web development, we thought we should take a closer look at CaribTix. There clearly are issues. At first, the website was still up but ticket information was just not being displayed. After inspecting the code, we realized that another website was handling the ticket processing and event listing that were embedded in the CaribTix pages.
It turns out that the CaribTix website didn’t actually crash. It was the website they used to manage their tickets that crashed. It seems it was not able to handle the number of requests and the site may not have been prepared to handle such an event. We don’t know why they didn’t use a simple solution like displaying a meaningful message to users instead of presenting a blank page. That left us all clueless and wondering if the “Driver” didn’t hear “Don’t stop at all”.
We couldn’t stop digging there. So Panmedia checked out this ticketing website (VBO Tickets). VBO Tickets is a California based company offering an all-in-one ticketing solution. They let you list ticket pricing details on the site which you then “White label” to embed in your own website. This is a common practice since many promoters opt for off-the-shelf solutions to save time and sometimes money when launching a new product.
One thing we noticed is that this website was built using ASP .NET. Yes! This means it has to run on a Windows server. We will not debate why a windows server may be a poor solution for a service like this. We will say, however, that the largest websites are not hosted on Windows servers.
There are a few lessons we would like to highlight from this:
- Do your research– Sometimes a solution may seem very attractive, especially when you are just starting out on a venture. If you do not have the expertise to properly evaluate such solutions, hire a professional/consultant to help you. It will save you in the long run
- It is more than just the servers– CaribTix owners indicated that their advanced ticketing system (VBO Tickets) is hosting on AWS (we use and recommend this as a very reliable and scalable hosting platform). We are certain VBO Tickets was not getting as much traffic as Linkedin, Spotify or even SoundCloud when it crashed. These sites are all hosted on AWS.
- Quicker Response from local developers – We know many foreign companies have big names and look very attractive. But often you get better quality work/advice from local companies who you can call or drive over to their office if you have an issue. We could also argue that the downtime experienced could have been significantly less if a local firm was responsible for hosting/managing the ticketing solution.
Still, we hope fans are able to get their tickets from this point on, although we tried Friday afternoon (Jan 18) and had to abandon our cart. Buju, of course, is sitting pretty since whatever happens this concert ah go shot.