What went wrong with Ticketmaster for Glasgow 2014 online ticket sales?

I have been following the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games ticketing website debacle. Last Tuesday the ticket site, run by Ticketmaster UK, went down after huge demand caused unacceptable waiting times for customers.

These days anything like that becomes the talk of Twitter very quickly and event organisers are quick to act on it, even if that just means taking the site down and apologising.

Well the good news is the site is back up again after loads of testing. But neither Ticketmaster or Glasgow 2014 have given any details of what the actual problem was.
I asked a coupe, of IT industry executives that know lots about the technology required to support ticketing at major events.

Both people I spoke to said it is a poor indictment on Ticketmaster. Let’s not forget the Olympics 2012 tickets resale site went down for 11 days in January 2012.

LOCOG suspended the resale site just hours after it opened on Friday 6 January 2012, as hundreds-of-thousands of people logged on to purchase unwanted tickets. At one stage there 250,000 people chasing just a couple of tickets, which caused issues around notification.

My sources tell me the problem can only be related to the software used by Ticketmaster or the network access.

“When you are running ticketing for events of this size you have to make sure your infrastructure and software are aligned for peaks and troughs,” said one source. He added that there are companies out there that are doing this well such as Amazon and Facebook.
He said in this case the problem “smells of software” because a network access problem would have manifest its way differently.

I suppose because there is such high demand for events like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics it does not harm organisers financially because the tickets will be sold anyway. But it does serve as a good warning to businesses to ensure they plan their infrastructures and applications in conjunction when making offers. If you have competition the customers will head straight there.