World Cancer Day - Scalable Hosting Platform

Industry
Non-profit
Solution
CMS solution, Hosting solution
Technology
Drupal
https://www.worldcancerday.org/

Every year, 10 million people die of cancer, and this number is expected to rise significantly to 13 million by 2030, if we don't act. World Cancer Day is the global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), and takes place every year on February 4 all around the globe. It aims towards raising awareness about cancer and informing the public of lifestyle changes that can help them prevent the disease. Since 2020, 1x has been a proud supporting development partner of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in building, improving and maintaining the centerpiece platform of the campaign that is www.worldcancerday.org 

This year World Cancer day campaign

I am and I will. This sentence is the main slogan for the 2019-2021 World Cancer Day campaign, and while the global main event takes place every year on February 4th, the campaign’s theme aims to convey that our everyday actions have an impact on everyone around us. It also acts as a reminder of the enduring power of cooperation and collective action. 

The website is a platform for everybody who wishes to find information about cancer and how they can take part in the day. No matter if you are a curious visitor, who would like to learn about World Cancer Day, or you are part of a local community that works towards sharing information about cancer prevention, you will find what you are looking for on this website.

Central collection of cancer awareness related material

During the year, the website highlights various ways to raise awareness both online and offline. You can read some high-level facts about cancer and how it affects the population, and dive-deeper thanks to useful links and resources. You can choose to be part of the international awareness raising activities by creating your custom poster, or finding the right material for your purposes. Toolkits are available in many languages, as well as different formats to help supporters address their specific needs. For example, one is directed towards getting schools or libraries involved, while this Advocacy Guide can help supporters approach political parties and convince them to show their commitment on World Cancer Day. 

Furthermore, the website’s Map of Activities is the central collection of cancer awareness-related activities all around the world, on and around the date of the event. This part of the site has taken an even greater significance, since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, as most of the awareness activities have had to take place online. On this page local cancer organizations and communities can add their own events, virtual or in-person, and visitors can browse through all the activities that are happening all over the globe. On the 'Stories' page a lot of personal and powerful messages are shared, and hopefully bring some hope to individuals directly or indirectly affected by the disease.

On 4th of February there was also a Twitter Trendsmap highlighting the hashtags #WorldCancerDay #IAmAndIWill (in multiple languages) trending across the world in real time:  

Preparing for the big day

Since 1xINTERNET took over the website in 2020, our main goal was to support the organization in making sure the website ran smoothly, and also to implement improvements that would ultimately boost UICC’s efforts in getting the message to the public. Since 4th of February is the day of the main event, this is the day when most of the activities took place, and consequently, the peak in visitors to the website is always between February 3rd and 5th.

Our project team sat down weeks before the event to discuss how to make sure everything would go as planned. We set up a dedicated devops team and the team members were on standby also during the night, if needed. A small spoiler, we had no troubles at all.

Since we had no real life experience with how the application performed under high load in the past, we knew we had to adapt to the conditions as they came. 

"I wanted to extend a big thanks to 1xINTERNET for being so quick to respond, actually staying with us throughout the day (as an extension of the team in Geneva) to make sure that the website stayed up and was fully functional and responsive for our users. While there were a few learnings in the scale up of the server, we were really happy to see the website remain responsive to the growing number of people who accessed worldcancerday.org. So a big thank you to the team!"

Charles Andrew Revkin, Senior Digital Strategy Manager, Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

Charles Andrew Revkin

February 3rd-5th in numbers

We started the active monitoring of the website on February 3rd, where we noticed a considerable growth of requests.

Analytics

With over 220k visitors, 300k+ sessions and more than 775k page views, this year's event was an exciting one. There was also a significant increase in average session durations (+236%), and the overall traffic was much better quality compared to previous years. Of course, these numbers are not representing the actual numbers, due to the cookie consent management banner we introduced, many visitors were not tracked during their visit on the website - we assume the true numbers to be higher.

The visitors created around 500 content nodes (stories and events) and 30k custom posters were generated on the site during that period.

Requests

A request is made for each asset of the website, which can be html, css, images, videos, etc. This is not to be confused with visitors or sessions. In the course of the ~2.5 days in question, the infrastructure served ~16 million requests. The peak was on the 4th around 2PM CET with almost 1 million requests in one hour.

The graphic above shows the requests over the 3 day period. The blue line shows the requests served from the edge, red from the origin.

Requests

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the amount of data served. Over the observed period, we served around 2.3 Terabytes of data. On February 4 alone, it was 1.7 Terabytes. On peak time, we served 135 Gigabytes of data in one hour.

Bandwidth

Cache ratio

Overall, we could achieve a cache ratio of over 90% for both data and requests.

Cache

Global delivery

Our CDN caches and delivers the data from access points around the globe to ensure high performance and low latency; the site loads fast no matter where the user is located.

The graphic above shows the data amounts delivered from each access point (incomplete list).

Infrastructure

The site usually runs fast on 2 CPU cores and 4GB RAM. For the event, we scaled according to the needs. On February 4th, the infrastructure was running on 12 CPU cores and 12GB of RAM. While the RAM usage was stable around 6GB, the 12 CPU cores were definitely needed for the smooth operation of the site.

Global delivery

Conclusion

All in all - it was a wonderful experience to be part of World Cancer Day for two reasons. Firstly,  it was an interesting professional challenge for our team to make sure the platform could bear the huge spike in visitors navigating around the website, learning more about cancer and finding out how they could take part in the day. Secondly, 1x is very proud to support such an important (and good) cause, as cancer affects almost everyone all around the world. We are truly happy to be partners in raising awareness and spreading information. 

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