Proprietary system ditched in Web site overhaul

Handles six million hits per day

The high cost of constant bespoke development to maintain Web site functionality, led Australia's number one home and garden Internet company to adopt open source technology.

Prior to replacing its proprietary content management system, homesite.com.au had 271,000 unique browsers per month.

As of June 2007 it was serving information to 502,000 unique browsers per month at the rate of 634 searches per minute.

With the site relying heavily on search, Squiz.net did an analysis of search trends to develop a suitable information architecture.

Squiz federal account manager, Steve Smith, said the biggest challenge was migrating all existing Web site content into MySource Matrix at lightning speed and with minimum disruption.

In addition to the migration Squiz developed several custom features to support products, content indexes and suppliers.

"A custom monitoring system produces monthly reports and a pre-processed caching facility can be updated out-of-hours while still requesting dynamic data from the content system," he said.

The re-engineered homesite.com.au was capable of withstanding 1.5 million hits per day.

But following the acquisition of homesite.com.au by realestate.com.au in March 2007, Squiz had to overcome the problems of having two different Web sites while meeting the joint business requirements of six million hits per day with a 25 percent margin to allow for new server solutions.

Homesite.com.au senior product manager, Matthew Travers, said the site content had to be seamlessly reused on the renovate.realestate.com.au site.

In June 2007, Squiz finalised the implementation of eight Matrix content pairs, two proxy servers, one dedicated CacheDB server, one admin server, one dedicated admin DB, and one dedicated replication master.

"This allowed the sharing of homesite.com.au content and the system is designed to be fail over safe," Travers said.

"Only a total power failure of the hosting facility or severing of the main Internet connection could bring it down.

"Today MySource Matrix is operated by five users who work full time uploading and managing the content."

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