Who hosts the ’08 election sites?
The upcoming election in the United States is clearly the election of YouTube and social media. The websites of the presidential candidates are drawing substantial traffic — Nielsen Online estimates the week ending August 31st as 3.4 million unique visitors for Obama, and 1.8 million unique visitors for McCain (up from 524,000 the week before, a massive jump, the apparent result of naming Sarah Palin as his running mate). This is a huge boost for both campaigns over the unique visitors for the month of May, a quarter ago — 2.3 million for Obama, and 563,000 for McCain.
By dot-com and general media measures, these are respectable but not huge numbers. At the top of the popularity game, Facebook and Myspace boast about 115 million unique visitors world-wide, with MySpace tops in the US with around 75 million. Better comparisons might be the launch of the Age of Conan MMORPG (2.2 million unique visitors in 10 days), or the visitors to the website of Weight Watchers (around 2 million).
Websites have been mission-critical in this campaign. So who hosts all of this infrastructure? The traffic’s tremendously variable, the leadership of the free world is at stake… so who gets entrusted with it all?
We can figure that out.
Doug Karr had an interesting blog post last year called, Is the next President of the United States running Linux? that took a look at OS, webserver software, and hosting company for the field of candidates. But where have things gone as the election has heated up?
A little bit of poking around turns up the following, for the two main candidates plus two more for whom the Internet has been a big deal this election cycle.
- CDN: Panther Express
- Hosting (SaaS): Blue State Digital, via Internap
- Other Hosting: FastServers
- Platform: PHP (on Apache with RedHat Linux)
(Odd question: Why is there apparently wildcard record for *.johnmccain.com that points to a host in Bell Canada territory?)
The largest campaigns appear to have made the decision to find low-cost CDNs with decent US footprints to deliver the bulk of their sites, backed up with origin infrastructure at inexpensive hosters. They also seem to have opted for relatively lightweight technology platforms — no big J2EE infrastructures here.
Uptime has been pretty good for most campaign sites, despite the challenges of managing capacity. Food for thought for the enterprise IT managers out there: Do you really need that premium CDN and hosting company? Or can you get by with less expensive service providers?