Liza Minelli, the famous daughter of the famous Judy Garland, causes more traffic than the Sydney Opera House web site can handle and crashes. The article doesn’t say how much traffic they received, only mentioning that the technicians took hours to get the site operational again. That tells me that the crash wasn’t just because of a high traffic spike by itself, because otherwise the site would have recovered after the traffic left. Moreover, the appear to not have had a monitoring service, so they may not have even known that the site was experiencing problems until customers starting calling to complain.
It is ironic that firms set up websites to handle customer traffic to lower costs and reduce the amount of operator staff to take calls. This crash flooded their call operators and caused negative publicity.
Proper load testing takes time and money. The Return On Investment is usually rather easy to see when you compare it with the damage caused by the web site crashing during an importent event like this. This was probably one of the most popular events to be at the Opera House in a while, and I doubt that the Opera House management performed end-to-end load testing as they should. I see this so often and it doesn’t have to happen.