4 Strategies for Punching Down Traffic Spikes

Travis Reeder in Spikability - An Application's Ability to Handle Unknown and/or Inconsistent Load gives four good ways of handling spikey loads:

  1. Have more resources than you'll ever need. Estimate the maximum traffic you'll need and keep that many servers running. Downside is you are paying for capacity you aren't using.
  2. Disable features during high loads. Reduce load by disabling features or substituting in lighter weight features. Downside is users to have access to features.
  3. Auto scaling. Launch new servers in response to load. Downsides are it's complicated to setup and slow to respond. Random spikes will cause cycling of instances going up and down.
  4. Use message queues. Queues soak up work requests during traffic spikes. More servers can be started to process work from the queue. Resources aren't wasted and features are disabled. Downside is increased latency.