Oracle proves the value of static web content delivery

  • 20-Apr-2009

An early joke on Twitter about the Oracle/Sun acquisition: "Oracle buys Sun just to see if Twitter can handle the resulting noise." The joke's on Oracle though, since with Europe and the East Coast of North America now awake, their content management system is having trouble keeping up.

At least, Twitter has a rather pretty "fail whale" (we'll see if it shows up once the West Coast has had its first cup of coffee). It's hard to reverse-engineer Oracle's web infrastructure, but it seems that their Stellent servers were failing for several hours this morning to bring up their "pretty page" (from a template) that states the application server is failing to actually serve the news.

Oracle now has a static page up -- please call 1.800.ORACLE1. That's more than a single point of failure -- it's like a fail whale, with Jonah failing inside. (And probably the small fish Jonah had for dinner the previous night failing, as well).

For those smugly sniggering on the sideline, be careful about throwing stones in glass houses, because any enterprise can suffer from sudden spikes in traffic. I gave up counting the number of Web CMS vendors who, over the past year, told me that dynamic delivery and/or scalability was no longer an issue in this day and age. Their mantra: clever caching solved some of it, but mostly, the issue had become moot with the faster hardware available nowadays. Why bake your pages, cache your content, and scale your infrastructure when just a couple of servers are enough to keep frying up those pages dynamically?

Well, as Oracle has inadvertently advertised, you'd better not gloss over the detailed sections on delivery mechanisms and caching archictectures in the Web CMS Report, Enterprise Portals Report, and Social Software and Collaboration Report just yet. Dynamic delivery is an easily overlooked requirement that comes with all kinds of personalization and social ("2.0") features on your site. Getting it right, however, is not just a matter of buying a Sun server.

(And thanks @bdelacretaz for making me laugh.)