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Impact - A Blog by INM

Lessons Learned from Europeana

December 3, 2008 by Andrea Simmons

As a Product Manager for INM’s eLibrary solutions, the launch of the massive European eLibrary project, Europeana, last week certainly piqued my interest. After hearing about this project months ago, I was curious to see it go online and to gauge the reaction.

The developers of the site launched with over two million documents, images, video and audio clips chronicling the continent's culture and history, from 27 participating countries. Initial estimates for site traffic were expected to reach up to 5 million hits per hour, but by 24 hours after the launch, the actual figures were over three times this volume, bringing the site crashing down.

Some would say that Europeana was a victim of its own success. However, to me, it seems unusual that a site of this magnitude with millions of users and millions of documents would opt for a hosting model that depends on fixed servers with a fixed capacity, especially today when flexible-scale Cloud offerings offer a viable alternative.

If the developers of Europeana had entertained using Amazon S3 for storage, or EC2for greater scalability, the site may still be up and running. A valuable lesson indeed for any content provider that is looking to launch a project of this scale – be sure to look at all the options and plan for the "what if" scenarios or you too could be managing a massive PR challenge instead of a successful launch.