Nette recalls that in preparation for the massive increase in transactions, the team ran a thorough set of tests to ensure that Australia Post were ready to scale to meet this need. The same process is carried out before the Christmas peak delivery period each year.
The organisation used New Relic APM to complete a canary rollout that helped them identify pressure on Australia Post's backend, including unprecedented demand on the Small Business Portal resulting from the high uptake of the pharmaceutical delivery service.
‘We identified an area where we had previously not needed support in the new registration flows on the Small Business Portal’, Nette says. ‘New Relic gave us the ability to view our system at the transaction level and create a clear understanding of which elements needed focus.’
To ensure an exceptional customer experience was maintained, Nette and his team focused on addressing errors as they emerged, while simultaneously mitigating the increased load. Primarily this was done by scaling the systems horizontally. However, they took an opportunity to implement a frontend authentication caching system which had the effect of dropping traffic to the backend by 80%. Introducing this cache allowed both backend and frontend systems to scale down the numbers of servers that were part of the authentication stack.
On top of the pharmaceutical delivery scheme rollout, Australia Post were recording double the number of deliveries than usual, while parcel tracking volumes had also significantly increased.
The volume of transactions in April was 340 million—higher than in any month of Australia Post's history. These transactions were double compared with April 2019 (140 million) and 70% higher than the Christmas peak of December 2019 (200 million).
The number of user registrations for Australia Post's tracking system was 2.5 times higher than in February of 2020 and 30% higher than in December of 2019. The team also recorded parcel tracking numbers at three times higher when compared with February of 2020, and up 40% compared with the peak of December 2019.