The Web Creaks as Jackson Fans Mourn


A chart from Keynote Systems showing the increase in response time (blue line) and decline in availability (red line) for major news sites after the death of Michael Jackson earlier today.

News sites and social media posting the earliest reports of the death of pop star Michael Jackson experienced availability problems as web users around the world sought to confirm the news and learn more. TechCrunch reports that, which was the first to report Jackson’s passing, was soon knocked offline. Twitter soon struggled to remain available as the volume of messages surged, and turned off search features in account profiles to help manage their server load.

As the news of Jackson’s death circulated, the traffic jam spread to more large news sites. Keynote Systems reported this evening that its monitoring showed performance problems for the web sites of ABC, AOL, CBS,  MSNBC, NBC, SF Chronicle, and Yahoo! News. “Beginning at 5:30pm (EDT), the average speed for downloading news sites doubled from less than four seconds to almost nine seconds,” said Shawn White, Keynote’s director of external operations said. “During the same period, the average availability of sites on the index dropped from almost 100% to 86%. The index returned to normal by 9:15pm (EDT).”

Some technologists quickly seized upon those problems as making the case for cloud computing. “There is no longer any good reason for a professional website property to go down because of load,” wrote Reuven Cohen at Elastic Vapor. “Cloud computing provides an almost infinite supply of computing capacity, be it a infrastructure as a service or platform as a service or even a traditional CDN. Not have a cloud bursting strategy in the age of cloud computing isn’t just wrong – it’s idiotic.”

examined how the major search engines fared in updating their indices to help guide searchers to the most relevant news. The verdict? “Is Google Search lagging in breaking news coverage? Indeed it is,” writes Loren Baker. “Microsoft BING however, has ABSOLUTELY FAILED in their coverage of the passing of Michael.”

Get Daily Email News from DCK!
Subscribe now and get our special report, "The World's Most Unique Data Centers."

Enter your email to receive messages about offerings by Penton, its brands, affiliates and/or third-party partners, consistent with Penton's Privacy Policy.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

Add Your Comments

  • (will not be published)


  1. Joe

    It's not just affecting news websites... takes over 10 minutes to load, and the only connection is a pair of parody songs written by Mr. Yankovic over 20 years ago.

  2. obinna maduabuchukwu

    michael jackson was a very talented musician and an entertianer, he will be greatly missed by all lovers of pop music. i was rudely shocked by the news of his death. may his gentle soul rest in perfect peace.

  3. John

    As someone who runs one of the sites mentioned, this does not reflect a problem with my hosts or network. None of my graphs shows any data to indicate that we are having problems. All indicators show that while we are getting traffic, its a big snooze for our hosts and internal networks. It *is* possible that Keynote is picking up failure for certain Ad sites to deliver and then attributing that to the site as a whole, but the result is much different than what is suggested by the results. You would get a page, it would just not have the ads show up as fast.. I mean "boo-hoo", right? Given what I have read and what I know, I suspect this is a more global bandwidth issue at the peering points or on some backbones. With that in mind, I think the cloud computing people are talking out of an orifice they shouldn't be. Nothing I have seen suggests that "burstable" anything, except maybe backbone links, would have any effect on this. Bear in mind, all of these sites aren't like 10 servers in someone's basement, they are hundreds of servers in multiple data centers with CDN cached content and redundant links to Tier 1 network providers. I'm not sure what cloud computing would do that we have not already done in-house with our own assets.

  4. SSB

    Average over multiple sites ABC, AOL, CBS, CNN Money, MSNBC, NBC, SF Chronicle, and Yahoo! News is not a good idea. Would suggest you to provide more information. It would be nice to get site wise data.

  5. John: Thanks for the perspective. As you note, Keynote reflects network performance as well as site performance, and can be influenced by logjams in either area. Interestingly, Akamai's News Index shows a spike to 4.2 million visitors a minute - far less than all-time highs, and well below the traffic generated by the death of Anna Nicole Smith.