Cloud computing and content delivery networks (CDN) are both good ways to assist in improving capacity in the face of sudden, high demand for specific content but require preparation and incur operational and often capital expenditures. How about an option that’s free, instead?

Connection_FailedWhile it’s certainly in the best interests of every organization to have a well-thought out application delivery strategy for addressing the various events that can result in downtime for web applications it may be that once in a while a simple, tactical solution will suffice. Even if you’re load balancing already (and you are, of course, aren’t you?) and employing optimization techniques like TCP multiplexing you may find that there are sudden spikes in traffic or maintenance windows during which you simply can’t keep your site available without making a capital investment in more hardware.

Yes, you could certainly use cloud computing to solve the problem, but though it may not be a capital investment it’s still an operational expenditure and thus it incurs costs. Those costs are not only incurred in the event that you need it, but in the time and effort required to prepare and deploy the application(s) in question for that environment.

Consider that you generally serve a fairly consistent patronage, such as would be the case for a local media outlet. No doubt you’ve got the infrastructure in place to handle the thousands of local visitors you receive on a daily basis, but what happens if a blog or editorial or news story is posted that catches someone’s eye? Often it’s relayed to Slashdot, or Digg, or Fark. And if it garners interest there, well, you may in real trouble and have a difficult time maintaining availability. You need a solution that can reliably handle just such a situation, but you can’t predict when that situation may arise. After all, “odd” or breaking news doesn’t often happen with any amount of notice. The budget to build out a larger infrastructure to handle a “could happen, might happen, can’t guarantee will happen” scenario is impossible to justify. 

What you need is a down and dirty, inexpensive (as in free) solution as an “insurance” plan against losing availability of your site. If that’s the case, perhaps what you need is to leverage the Coral Content Distribution Network.