Each plate is a unique product from a single supplier, so interest from bidders is intense. The fixed deadline on each lot meant the server infrastructure faces a crush of visitors, both during registration and in the final hour.
Our team analysed figures from SMA’s previous hosting setup, carefully calculating what resources would be required. We built a premium dedicated server with headroom to handle the highest possible load, and installed it in our fully-owned data centre in York. We then liaised with both the system’s programmers and the IT department at SMA Vehicle Remarketing, all of whom had a stake in the auction’s success.
The technology stack powering the site is based Python, Django, Postgres and MySQL. We were able to stress-test the server in advance to work out where the bottlenecks might be, then set a memory budget to ensure that high load would have a predictable effect.
The result was better than anyone expected: the June 2014 auction achieved a record high total hammer price. The highest selling registration was RAJ 17N which sold for £15,010 out of total sales of almost £1million (full results). We’re also told that due to the site’s fast response SMA received no complaint calls from any bidder.
Piers England, the DVLA Auction Contract Manager at SMA Vehicle Remarketing said:
Interest in DVLA Personalised Registrations is as strong as ever. The Timed Auctions are growing in popularity and experience huge peaks in server load. We needed to be sure that every bidder could get on the site first time, every time. Bytemark has delivered this and we are confident that their infrastructure will more than adequately support the continued growth we expect in our DVLA Timed Auctions.