could only handle 1,100 users concurrently

The day before the federal website went live, they were completing a routine stress test on an implementation environment and they were only able to handle 1,100 users “before response times get too high.”

When I was on a team implementing an internal website for a Fortune 50 insurance company servicing 2,000 employees, we stress tested for a maximum of 2,300 connections with no problems at all. The users had to log in too, it was not an open Internet website. That site costs about $1.6 million dollars for everything: coding, content entry, development, testing, QA, internal marketing and implementation. couldn’t handle 1,100 concurrent users?

The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that the website’s repeated crashes were due to unexpectedly high traffic. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said on Oct. 6 that the website was expected to draw around 60,000 simultaneous users but instead drew many more, around 250,000.

However, a testing bulletin from Sept. 30, the day before the site’s launch, states that the website began to run into trouble with far fewer users.

“Currently we are able to reach 1,100 users before response time gets too high,” the bulletin states.

The bulletin says that the goal moving forward was to “conduct more thorough testing with (the Federally Facilitated Marketplace) to reach targets of up to 10,000 concurrent users in the next few days.”

I can flat out tell you Jim and I have personally watched our small, low-budget WordPress website have 319 concurrent users at one time and it didn’t miss a beat. It was not slow at all. The server environment I have running upwards of 20 different websites peaked at about 14,500 unique visitors over an eight hour period. That was a one-time occurrence so far, but none of the websites experienced any delays or slowness.

In short, the political machine demanded this site go live on Oct. 1 no matter what.

Update: The original headline mentions users per day, and it should be concurrent users. The Fox News story has the headline incorrect as well.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. cranky yankee on November 7, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Steve you want to fix obamacare website I hear a guys retiring

    • Steve McGough on November 7, 2013 at 11:26 am

      No friggin’ way. But it is interesting that many of the state exchanges used WordPress. The problems lie in the numerous database connections that tap into systems from the early 80s that nobody has figured out how to update.

  2. scheidel21 on November 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

    To be fair comparing essentially simple websites with Dynamic Database backends with the federal site is a little unfair. The corporate site you mention at the beginning of the story is probably a little more valid to use as a comparison, but still not quite in the same group.
    The site, much like the law, is ugly and unwieldy, requiring access to multiple databases, many of which need to have very restricted access, and on different platforms with different agencies. That’s a lot more easy to screw up.
    Please don’t construe my comments as an excuse, there is no excuse for the horrible design and performance, other than the government rushed it. While they had lots of time to design and create the site, they apparently cut the testing and tuning phase very short, which is a no no. But since there really is no alternative what does it really matter if there is bad press, not like they’ll lose business over it.
    Like everything else around the ACA this is just a steaming pile. Will there be some winners in this, yes, but they will number far fewer than the losers over all. The Website is just a symptom of the underlying issues with the plan. Most of all the legislation didn’t do the most important thing…

    • scheidel21 on November 7, 2013 at 11:27 am

      Just an article I happened to have in my inbox after I posted this the title is “The IT Fundamentals that ignored” May need to register to read, sorry. Link

    • Steve McGough on November 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

      It’s not clear the 1,100 peak load was based on concurrent transactions, rather to me it looks like it may have just been visitors to the site. As mentioned in my previous comment, I understand about all of the database connections, but until we know the details of the test (just page visits or transactions) and what steps were programed for each of the visitors, we don’t know. Would love to see the details on that stress test as to what pages they were hitting and what transactions the visitors were trying to complete.

    • scheidel21 on November 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

      Well I agree if it was just visits then I honestly have no comment, that is the most abysmal performance I could imagine. I mean if it’s just visits are they running the site on a Pentium Pro with 256MB of RAM? But you are correct unless or until the full details are known it is hard to definitively Monday morning quarterback it. However, I will note that the fact they refer to delays I am inclined to think it’s a transaction based stress test, but I could be incorrect.

  3. cranky yankee on November 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Just remember the commercial “This is Peggy how can I help you” explains the rollout

  4. bien-pensant on November 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I don’t know about the tech stuff.
    It just seems to me that with three years and $600 million dollars, this thing should have been blast proof without any excuses.
    It obviously doesn’t work.

  5. Dimsdale on November 8, 2013 at 7:09 am

    There are massively multiplayer online (MMOs) games running with no problems.? Sites like Facebook etc.?
    “The ?ne” believed in his own infallibility.


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