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Accenture and Google collaborate with Clarence House to take Royal Wedding website live in just four weeks.
The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011, was one of the largest public events of the decade. To allow the vast global audience to follow it, Clarence House—the official residence of the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Princes William and Harry—wanted a single, robust website that would house the various media streams and handle large volumes of visitors to the site.
With Accenture’s help, the Royal Wedding website was designed and implemented within a compressed four-week time frame using the power of Google App Engine.
The Prince of Wales’ private office is located in Clarence House, and coordinated the media initiatives around the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
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The marriage of the second in line to the British throne attracted intense interest from people across the world. The British Monarchy has been quick to adapt to the changing needs of its global audience, and Clarence House was determined to make it easy for the public to watch events unfold via integrated social networking technologies such as Flickr, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. In addition, the site needed to be optimized for access via a wide range of mobile devices, which are rapidly becoming an important means of accessing the Internet.
On a strategic level, Clarence House decided that the official news feeds should be housed on a single website to provide easy access to all official material. Given the huge amount of global interest already being shown, it was clear that the site would have to be designed for maximum ease of use, highly robust and able to scale dynamically. Given its high profile, the site was likely to attract the attention of hackers: Security would thus be vitally important but, at the same time, the site needed to be fully interactive.
Clarence House elected to work with Google based on its leading role in the development of high-volume computing platforms on the Internet. Facing a very high-profile assignment with a demanding four-week deadline, Google turned to Accenture for the site’s technical design and implementation.
Accenture was able to offer the precise skills needed to design and implement the Royal Wedding website within the compressed time frame of four weeks. The core team leveraged Accenture’s Technology Architecture, Innovation and specialized cloud and security capabilities in our Delivery Centers.
Google helped Accenture leverage Google App Engine, the powerful platform on which the new website was designed and hosted. Google App Engine is offered through the cloud using Google’s own infrastructure, and thus requires none of the traditional software and servers that would have been required by an on-premise solution.
The resulting Royal Wedding website is a Web content management, distribution and blogging application, custom-built in Java and running in the cloud on Google App Engine. The website brought together all of the official social media around the event, and provided direct, easy access to all channels of communication.
The website was designed with extreme scalability in mind, using a combination of page pre-generation, multilevel caching and load balancing—fully utilizing the infrastructure offered by Google App Engine. To prove the scalability, both Google and Accenture executed extensive performance tests on the various layers of the architecture.
With caching disabled, the site was tested to the level of 500 pages per second (40 million per day), without saturating the solution, and still served 95 percent of the pages in less than 1.5 seconds. With caching enabled, Accenture estimated that the site would be able to serve 500 million pages per day, corresponding to between 100 million and 200 million user sessions.
The new website was launched on March 31, 2011. Since its debut through May 2, the site has seen 11.8 million visitors viewing approximately 32 million pages. In fact, visitors to the site viewed an average three pages per visit. These metrics were tracked using Google Analytics, which was integrated into the solution.
On April 29, 2011, the day of the wedding, the site received nearly 6 million unique visitors. The site served up some 15 million page views and at its peak Google App Engine processed more than 2,000 requests per second.
Interestingly, most access to the site was through personal computers (88.7 percent)—however many of these users are likely to have been using laptops that were connected wirelessly to the Internet. Mobile phones were used by 7.6 percent of the visitors while tablets accounted for 3.2 percent.
The Royal Wedding website demonstrated that cloud computing can be used to deliver a robust, scalable solution in accelerated time frames. It was also testimony to the strength of the collaboration between Accenture and Google.
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