Anxiety's attacking me, and my air is getting thin.
I'm in trouble for the things I havent got to yet.
I'm chomping at the bit, and my palms are getting wet,
sweating bullets.

--Megadeth, "Sweating Bullets"

If you can relate to the kind of stress and anxiety sung about by Megadeth - and it's coming from the workplace - you aren't alone. Last fall InformationWeek ran a short story based on a survey they conducted and concluded that "two out of three IT managers say they're kept awake at night worrying about work, and 75% admit ongoing anxiety about application performance concerns."

Worse, "25% of the responded reported suffering physical symptoms that they believe were the result of IT-related stress. Those symptoms include nausea, headaches, migraines, panic attacks, heart arrhythmia, and muscle twitches. And nightmares."

That's just not right, people! And yet tightening budgets and a lack of resources mean less time to implement a resilient application infrastructure that can stand up to being Slashdotted and continue to perform within expected parameters. It's no wonder IT folks are stressed.

And they're going to keep being stressed. There's an abundance of Web 2.0 sites lighting up the grid every day, and the goal of each one of them is to garner a large and wide enough audience that they can either make gobs of money or be acquired by a larger technology company (and make gobs of money). Either way, it takes users - and lots of them. LOTS.

And if users were impatient back in the day, they're even more impatient - and unforgiving - today. Failures of popular Web 2.0 sites is sure to be plastered all over the news - including mainstream media that usually might not cover high-tech in the first place. This makes a stressful situation even worse; not only do you have to deal with angry users, managers, and business owners but you get to suffer the scrutiny of hundreds of thousands of people who read about your failure. Users who find your site unreliable are likely to find someplace else to visit - and may stay there, abandoning your site and turning dreams of long vacations into nightmares.

As your site begins to attract users and the volume of visits grows higher and higher your infrastructure and its ability to deliver applications is going to be severely impacted. Viral marketing, word of mouth, a link on /., digg, or fark.com can bring your site instant fame - or infamy, if you aren't prepared.

First to go is usually performance. Suddenly your users are timing out waiting for a response, or the response comes so slowly that an "instant" message is more like a "wait a minute" message. Next is availability as server software strains to keep up. Finally the site goes dark for some - maybe all - as your servers just give up in defeat.

If you don't have an infrastructure that's prepared to handle this situation, you're farked. You can't produce a solution out of thin air that will allow you to instantly increase the capacity and performance of your site. You can't tweak the applications or servers - at least not without cutting off all users completely. You really can't do anything but let the wave pass you by and hope that some users might come back, something we all know is unlikely. You had your chance to catch the "big wave" and now it's gone.

If you had architected your infrastructure to include an application delivery controller in the beginning then you could perform these feats of magic. Increasing capacity is as easy as adding a new server to the mix and it won't interrupt existing users. You could use the features and functions available to optimize communication and maximize the resources you have available. You could implement caching, compression, and other acceleration options to improve the performance of your site without rewriting code or tweaking server configurations.

You could sleep at night, knowing that even if your site experiences a sudden flood of traffic that it won't suffer the slashdot effect because you have the means to scale up capacity if necessary to avoid it.

Be proactive instead of reactive, and sleep better.

Imbibing: Coffee