IRCTC on cloud.. A solution to tatkal ticket booking woes

Have you tried logging on the IRCTC website at 8 A.M ?? 


IRCTC -One among most used sites in India after Google.

Every single user of IRCTC has his own stories-ticketing woes with IRCTC. Since your travel is not confirmed until you see  confirmation page with seat number and there are few pages to be filled up and multiple systems involved, the probability that you go through all these pages & your tatkal ticket gets booked at 8.00AM is very low. People are scared  about “Service unavailable” page which one can always experience during a tatkal ticket booking. Conditions worse for festival days booking during when millions wake up to alarms in the morning and sit in front of systems to book their ticket at 8.00 AM. Inspite of all, what they often see is  a “service unavailable” page.
Statistics – IRCTC

IRCTC, which manages the online rail ticketing for the Indian Railways, reported around 15.3 million transactions for the month of March ,2012 of which almost 73.68% were successful.
SBI Debit Cards reported the highest number of transactions at 1.77 million,
followed by the ICICI payment gateway at 1.62 million.

Facts given by Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, G M, Operations, IRCTC  in 2010.
Facts about IRCTC:

  • In Business of online Rail Ticketing Sold more than 7.9 million Tickets in july10
  • Peak tickets –more than 3,15,000
  • Average Tickets perday 2,55,421+
  • Total Revenue in 2009-10 -6748 crore+
  • Average ticket size around Rs.800
  • Registered user around 16 million+
  • More numbers of non A/C passengers(60%+)
What happens at 8.00 AM in IRCTC ?
Every morning at 8.00 A.M , when an user tries to login into the IRCTC system, his request is queued with few thousands of other IRCTC users who also try to book the tickets using the same channel. IRCTC also has interfaces with other third party companies (cleartrip etc) who again route their requests to IRCTC. All these requests overload servers and max number of sessions is easily reached. The demand for the server space increases by many times during  peak hours and it is impossible to scale up  individual servers to support a huge load. This kind of demand can be termed as “Seasonal demand” or a time-based demand. If physical servers are scaled up to solve such a demand then the cost involved will be great and  servers will remain idle during non-peak hours. (reports suggest more than 40% of traffic occurs at 8.00 A.M)

8. 00 A.M 


                   8.10 A.M

So What can be solution for IRCTC ticketing woes?

Implementation of cloud can be a great relief to such load issues. Cloud computing comes up with the options of scaling up of  servers to support even high-demand. For Eg: Server can scale up automatically from 8 GB to 64GB etc based on the requests it handles. The great advantage is many companies offer the “Pay as per usage” strategy which will help  customers in paying only for what they use.
                   Cloud also offers options of
  1. Automatic scaling
  2. Manual scaling
  3. Task based scaling.
The indian ticketing site redbus implementation is based on Cloud from Amazon which can scale up/down based on the number of users. There are many other players in cloud IaaS (Infrastructure As A Service) who provide space for deploying the applications and they take care of managing the servers, data back up, security etc.
To say in simple terms, when the load increases at 8.00 A.M in the morning, the servers scale up automatically to support the users and when the load goes down after (say) 10.00 P.M, servers scale down the IRCTC application and become available for another application with demand. Task based scaling can be enabled every morning at 8.00 A.M when the servers are required to scale up.

What stops IRCTC from implementing cloud ?

        May be     1) Confidential data
                            2) Control of servers with a third party infra-structure provider.
IRCTC application captures only the travel data and a very basic profile data of users. The banking transactions happen only through the payment gateways and hence I believe the application cannot be classified as holding confidential data.
IRCTC can come up with a cloud model which is completely controlled. (Own implementation)
Advantages :

1) Can be a permanent solution to the ticketing woes for decade.
2) Can earn additional revenue by sharing it with other govt., applications.
3) Unmatching performance – encouraging users to trust on the application to book tickets.

It is not only that the entire few lakhs of seats getting filled up at same second. Its  also because of the load. User is not able to book his/her seat due to techical issues even when a seat is available.Improving on this can help IRCTC to win more customers.

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