"We had a lot of outages, and there was a lot of strain on the dynamic portion of Web servers," says Justin Shaffer, director of operations for MLB Advanced Media. Major League Baseball's 30 teams each hold an equal stake in MLB Advanced Media, which also runs the team sites.
Shaffer and the rest of the Web services team, brought on board for the 2001 season, were working so many hours tending to the site that they didn't have time to attend many games. "We were working 80 to 100 hours a week," he says. The front office wasn't happy with MLB.com's performance, either. "We'd all like to forget opening day '01. The site was down more than it was up," recalls Jim Gallagher, vice president of corporate communications for MLB. "We weren't prepared for the onslaught of fans online."
So MLB Advanced Media called for a changeup. The Web team rewrote most of MLB's internal applications and consolidated the site from a three-tier to a two-tier server architecture. The organization added content switching to off-load SSL and TCP/IP processing, and it compressed files for those with dial-up access. It also began caching site content.
The retooled site, which attracts 2 million to 3 million fans worldwide each day, runs about 15 percent faster than it did before, Shaffer says, using 30 percent less bandwidth.