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Mr. Men and the Google Doodle

Guest blog post by Nancy Stango, CEO & Solution Architect, Blink Reaction.

Mr. Tickle, Little Miss Sunshine, and Little Miss Naughty... do these names sound familiar? Even if not, you'd probably recognize Mr. Tickle's spaghetti-like arms and Little Miss Sunshine's big smile on her yellow body. These are the designs of Roger Hargreaves, whose 76th birthday was recently celebrated by "Google Doodles" of his lovable characters on google.com. In a global multi-doodle initiative secured by Mr. Men estate owner Chorion, Google delivered over a million page views to the Mr. Men site in just one day.

In 2010, Chorion engaged my company, Blink Reaction, to build their multi-brand platform. Mr. Men was the first brand to move onto Chorion's Drupal-based platform, although eventually it will include others, such as Olivia, The Octonauts and Noddy. Shortly after the platform launched, our client confirmed the Google Doodles were going ahead globally. We were ecstatic, but knew that we'd have to work fast to ensure that the very many people who followed from Google.com to MrMen.com would find it fast and reliable. But we weren't worried, because we highly recommend that all our clients put their sites on Acquia Cloud. Acquia Cloud enables performance-optimized versions of Drupal and implements best practices in specialized server software, tuning, and testing.

Simulating the load was key to preparing for an enormous number of visitors. We calculated that we could manage the load by tweaking our configuration specifically for the spike we expected. So we got together with Acquia's Chris Rutter, who recommended that:

  • We perform load testing using SOASTA, which applied load scripts simulating traffic from all over the world.
  • We add hardware capacity, including increasing the server size and using dedicated load balancers, based on the results of those tests.

In addition, we:

  • Made sure the site was optimized for fast page loads and smooth user experience. The platform we created for Chorion was based on the Pressflow distribution of Drupal, which allows us to leverage the Varnish reverse proxy caching engine on Acquia."
  • Configured reverse proxy caching, which was the key element for delivering over a million page views in 24 hours.

The result? The client was thrilled with Mr. Men's performance. Said David Redshaw, a technology consultant to Chorion, "The day was a great success and everyone at Chorion is pleased with the results. The new platform managed the load without any issues. Our success affirms the scalability of open-source software."

Now, it wasn't our work that created such results: Credit for that goes to Roger Hargreaves and his son Adam, who continues to create beloved Mr. Men books after his father's death in 1988. But a little preparation from Blink — and the help of Acquia's cloud and support--keeps Little Miss Naughty and Mr. Men charming millions online.

MR MEN™, LITTLE MISS™ Copyright © 2011 THOIP (a Chorion group company). All rights reserved.

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