Mirror system reduces website downtime

Fed up with unstable content management systems (CMS) buckling under the demands of modern websites? Digital agency Mirror provided the natural Kiwi response: they developed a solution to the problem. 

The resulting software provides a rock-solid layer of support for all popularly used CMS platforms, including Wordpress, Joomla and Umbraco.

According to Mirror director, Dane Tatana, the increased dependence of businesses of all kinds on websites – and the typical expansion of a website over years of use – brought the problem to the fore. 

“Website CMS’s aren’t designed to be repositories of large amounts of information, pictures and other assets. As a result, many companies are experiencing instability, with websites crashing because the CMS is overwhelmed.”

A CMS supports the creation and modification of digital content and include features for collaborative working, and functionality such as Web-based publishing, format management, history editing and version control, indexing, search, and retrieval. 

Web content includes text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, maps, and more. However, while they contain substantial quantities of content, CMS’ were not designed as storage solutions and routinely become unstable as websites grow.

Tatana points out that regardless of what causes a website crash, the consequences for businesses can be unpleasant. “That ranges from lost sales for ecommerce sites, to tarnished reputation – most people today are aware that being online implies being always on – so if the site is down, it just isn’t good enough.”

For companies that have large websites, which are integral to business operations, he says downtime is ‘incredibly painful’.

Mirror creates a parallel storage structure, which as the name implies, mirrors the live CMS. If the CMS encounters any issues, the system falls over to Mirror, with no interruption to service.

It is, Tatana says, a unique solution. “To date, the only other solutions available to prop up straining CMS’ are cache-based. This is a method in terms of which the content delivery network takes a snapshot of a site, and places it on servers around the world. While it helps, this method has limitations as the cache refreshes automatically and if it does so when a site is down, the cache will, effectively, be empty.”

And the website down.

“With Mirror, full control is returned to the website administrator and reliability is driven up to match that provided by the website host. It eliminates the CMS as a cause for downtime,” Tatana adds.

With the prototype developed through 2016, a working version was released early this year. After a successful implementation, Les Mills International saw its page load time (the speed of page delivery to browsers) go from 5.92 to 2.9 seconds, while uptime has moved to 100 percent. 

According to Bradley Moore, Chief Digital Officer of Les Mills International, Mirror handled the extra traffic with ease when it spiked by over 260 percent in response to a promotion.  
"It’s great to know that the environment is capable of handling these spikes, improving platform stability and performance,” he says.

Continuing, Tatana says that in practical terms, this organisation had numerous outages before Mirror and has had zero since implementation. “The site was experiencing significant downtime challenges while fielding around 200 000 hits every day. They’ve gone from constantly putting out fires, to no worries in a matter of a day.”

Tatana says Mirror is available immediately as a shared service. It is ideal for any organisation that runs a website, but adds that it is particularly suited to those who are experiencing stability issues with large, complex sites.

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