Wednesday, July 09, 2003

tele-panic, and all about being architecturally stupid?

Last month, the FTC opened up access to Do Not Call, where consumers could go and register their telephone numbers and get them off the lists of those dreaded telemarketers. Predictably, a *LOT* of people hit the site, and nearly slashdotted it. The FTC had contracted AT&T to manage the site, and the latter was soon adding more servers and configurations to handle the heavy traffic. What is probably not obvious as another reason to drop your jaws is that the site (like other government sites) is running Microsoft-IIS/5.0 on Windows 2000 {courtesy: Netcraft's Uptime Survey Site}. Sweet.

Which brings me to the stupidity section of this post. There are several such sites that serve content off MSFT products (IIS, MS SQL Server 2000) with MSFT web technologies (ASP, the whole .NET soup), including the Times of India and the Midday. What happens as a result of their resorting to "technology that allows you to develop something quickly and sit praying for scalability and performance" is the sites crawl. The spinning hourglass becomes the dominant active visual content on your screen. And for some reason (actually, it's quite obvious!) these sites fail to perform on non-IE browsers. All we get, when we use alternatives like Mozilla are friendly error messages (these designers definitely have never heard of the word "usability"!) like

Microsoft OLE DB Provider for SQL Server error '80040e31'

Timeout expired

/asp/columnsarchive.asp, line 58

The above was an error message I got when I tried retrieving all the Mid-day columns by Khalid Mohammed {last mention}.

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