How the Liberal Party’s website coped with the 2013 Federal Election

How the Liberal Party’s website coped with the 2013 Federal Election

Political party turned to local managed IT provider to keep its site running smoothly during election campaign

The Liberal Party of Australia ensured its website was up and running during the 2013 Federal Election campaign by turning to local managed IT provider, Wyscom, for help.

After the Canberra-based managed IT provider was tapped for the task, it spent time researching what Cloud solution would provide local access, and be fast, secure and reliable.

Wyscom director, Hayden Johnston, said the upgrade was important to ensure the site could deal with “pretty much anything that anyone wanted to throw at it.”

“We also wanted to demonstrate our competency for government through our professional digital campaign organisation,” he said.

“Any downtime could have been used by the mainstream media, and our opponents, to claim that we weren’t ready for government.”

Johnston said there were also practical reasons to ensure uptime.

“We certainly didn’t want to have any issues with reliability during peak periods where we were asking people for financial support by donating online using our donation process,” he said.

Avoiding risks

The Liberal Party website has been up for many years, and subjected to the demands of past elections.

As for why the integrity of the website became a priority before the election, Johnston said there was a growing need to maintain full authority over its digital assets.

“We wanted the Liberal Party to have complete control over the digital assets, particularly for the duration of the election campaign,” he said.

Having full control allows for “political risks” involved in elections campaigns to be better managed, such as dealing with legitimate spikes in traffic from donation efforts or coping with sustained attempts to disable the website.

“Every election we have to prepare for and anticipate events that may or may not have happened before, so we need to consider any possibility dues to the political exposure during campaigns,” Johnston said.

Strong traffic

After looking at a number of different options, the Liberal Party of Australia and Wyscom went with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in May 2013, a move Johnston characterises as a “no brainer.”

One attraction was the establishment of AWS’s presence in Australia with a datacentre in Sydney, which meant that the site could be locally hosted.

“The local hosting would improve website loading times and give us 24 hour access to AWS without any issues due to time differences,” Johnston said.

The ability to scale up and down very easily depending on requirements, as well as AWS’ expertise to deal with and advise on potential issues, were other factors that were taken into consideration.

Three months after going with AWS, the Liberal Party’s new website went live on August 5, 2013, the same day the election was announced.

In the following three months, the site experienced spikes in traffic during the course of the political campaign that eventually concluded with the election of opposition leader, Tony Abbot.

In that period, the site served 1.1 million site visits, 980,000 unique visits and 2.4 million page views, which Johnston said was more than double the traffic from the 2010 election.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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