War Interest Swamps Military Sites

As the war in Iraq heats up, Web surfers are swamping the sites of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, causing long delays in downloading pages and slashing availability rates.

Keynote Systems , an Internet performance testing management firm, is reporting the Army’s home page, which normally takes four seconds to download on a high-speed connection, is taking more than 80 seconds to download while the Marine site download times have jumped from a typical 4.5 seconds to more than 30 seconds.

Availability of the Army’s home page also plunged from the normal 93 percent to below 70 percent on Wednesday. The San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote said the Marine site is not suffering from availability problems because the Marines are taking action to decrease the size of its Web page.

According to Keynote, the Marine Corps problems are associated with bandwidth issues, with the pipe between its server and the Internet being too small. For both the Army and Marine sites, Keynote says load testing across the Internet, as is done by major Web commercial sites before major selling seasons and by major news organizations preparing for news events, could have been used to avoid the problems.

There has been minor performance degradation on the public Department of Defense home page. Between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST on Wednesday, performance slowed to five seconds to download a Web page instead of the usual one second. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), had minor problems on Tuesday but no problems on Wednesday.

Keynote says some European sites are showing similar difficulties. The Home Office site in the U.K., which normally takes one second to download jumped to 15 seconds on Wednesday while availability fell below 80 percent.

In general, major news sites are not showing any unusual problems at this time.

Keynote is actively measuring a large number of major government, news organization, and other war-related sites from Keynote’s infrastructure of more than 100 monitoring locations in most of the major cities of the world.

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