Red Nose Day IT peaked at 214 donations per second

The IT supporting this year's Red Nose Day fundraising successfully processed a peak of 214 donations per second - an 84% increase over the previous event in 2009...

The IT supporting this year's Red Nose Day fundraising successfully processed a peak of 214 donations per second - an 84% increase over the previous event in 2009, a figure which was already more than five times Amazon's Christmas traffic at that time.

During the seven weeks leading up to the main televised Red Nose Day on 18 March, the website run by charity Comic Relief received as many as 1.5 million unique visitors per day, with 652,795 donations processed during the seven-hour TV marathon.

Comic Relief's head of future media and technology Marcus East told Computer Weekly in the days leading up to the big night that the IT challenges this year were greater than ever, with growing use of mobile and social media channels for people to donate money. So far, the event has raised over £74m.

"This creates an interesting and exciting challenge as there are more challenges for people to use, and therefore more channels to monitor. Mobile is similar - our iPhone app has been incredibly successful with over 50,000 downloads and this creates new traffic for us as well," East said at the time.

For 2011, the charity teamed up with a number of technology partners to build the IT systems it needed, working with Carrenza, Oracle, Cisco, HP, PayPal, VMware, WorldPay and Zeus Technology. For the first time this year, Comic Relief used cloud technologies to cope with its peak processing requirements.

"We chose to use cloud technologies to provide us with flexibility and scalability, but also because the platform is needed for a relatively short time during the year and acquiring a fixed infrastructure wouldn't make commercial sense," East said.

Comic Relief uses two core platforms from Carrenza, one for donations and one for its websites.

The donation platform uses a Java application running in an Oracle Real Application Clusters environment across two data centres, processing hundreds of thousands of donations via web and call centres.

The and websites use open source content management system Drupal - one of the largest such installations in the UK - built with so-called LAMP technology - Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP.

VMware's vSphere 4 software is used for virtualisation, and both platforms run on a HP ProLiant BL460 blade server with HP 3PAR storage. Cisco provided its 6500-series networking system, while Zeus Technology supports security, switching and traffic management.

Click here to read our exclusive pre-Red Nose Day interview with Comic Relief head of future media and technology Marcus East.

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