fast trade-offs

Canada Revenue Agency extends e-filing deadline to 06 May 2008 due to website submission problems

That’s today’s news, and I ran into it myself. All of the Canada Revenue Agency sites are Sllllllooooooooooow today. Moving the filing deadline off is the Right Thing To Do from a tactical standpoint. However, you still have to pay any owing amount today. (PUBLIC SERVICE REMINDER: do that through your BANK, the government’s website is too slow to look this information up there!)

This problem does raise some interesting questions.

Did they do volume testing, optimization, or load balancing? (Do you?)

Are their pages set to gracefully degrade in the face of large loads (clearly not; for the most part, the actual HTML (XHTML, a tip of the hat for a nicely structured page) loads, but the linked images do NOT), and the pages are set not to cache, even for purely presentational, ‘nothing to see that has changed here’ pages. (Do yours?)

Moreover, when you actually try to submit the ‘netfile’ .tax file, the page doesn’t load. The announcement that the deadline has changed is on a separate news page, that’s behind a submit button, and it too takes forever to load.


This is a solvable problem. Anyone care to weigh in on opinions as to how to solve it? I’ll do a follow-up summary and share some of my own thoughts later in the week.

Have you tested this sort of load with YOUR application? Does it matter?

(In my strong opinion: yes, it does matter, and you’d best be able to prove that your projected load is something you ARE handling, every day. You better also understand how your system will degrade under unexpectedly heavy load…like a million people clicking on the submit button multiple times because it didn’t respond fast enough 😉


By Dak

Father, leader, writer, scientist, visionary.

Technical software development leader (CTO, VP). Excels when improving and turning around teams, putting better tools and software architectures in place, and getting better outcomes.

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