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GovCMS Team transcends COVID-19 unprecedented demands with resilient service

3 min read

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians had accessed vital and critical online resources of information in order to protect the health, welfare of the family and loved ones through GovCMS.

This was the scenario cited by the federal government’s content management system and website hosting platform.

With the spike in the demands for information and readily accessible resources, the Gov CMS team was able to ride out the overwhelming spike of traffic into their website.  

The platform responded with resilience and stability of the service. Automatically, the platform scaled up and handled an unparalleled volume of website visits. 

Statistics shows that at the peak of the pandemic, the GovCMS platform has experienced 100,000 page views per minute, 187,000 concurrent users on the platform and 2 billion hits in a month.  

Health.gov.au experienced a 760 per cent increase in traffic with up to six million visits a day, and servicesaustralia.gov.au experienced a 650 per cent increase in traffic.  

Many other sites on the platform also experienced very large increases in visits such as Smart Traveller, Safe Work Australia, The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the South Australian Department of Education. 

‘The GovCMS team ensured our website was always available and able to supply information to the public during the pandemic,’ said Susie Smith General Manager Services Australia. 

‘We worked closely with the GovCMS team to increase our database capacity to ensure the Services Australia website could manage heavy traffic. In a very tight timeframe, and under significant pressure, they seamlessly executed a database upscale with no downtime. This greatly improved the performance of the website. This supported real people and their ability to care for themselves and their families, she said. 

The Department of Health were also happy with how their website performed during the pandemic. 

GovCMS’ robust tooling allowed them to seamlessly deploy developments at any time of the day, including during peak times.  This allowed them to remain responsive to changing needs.  

We typically saw up to 20,000 concurrent users on the Department of Health website. Even under immense traffic, page load time remained under 2.7 seconds,’ said Danni Marlow health.gov.au Technical Product Owner. 

‘We usually deploy IT updates during periods of low traffic which we couldn’t do during the pandemic. We ended up deploying updates whenever we needed to and it was seamless meaning customers could always access the most up-to-date information, he said. 

During the pandemic, the GovCMS community was able to form surge teams to support agencies publishing of COVID-19 information and stood ready to provide cover should an agency publishing team be impacted personally by the virus. 

They worked closely with agencies on the front line to ensure publishing activities and announcements likely to cause large spikes in traffic could be delivered without affecting the platform.  

We had website engineers standing by to ensure the platform remained stable. These are unprecedented times, the volumes certainly tested us, but ultimately proved the strength and capability of GovCMS. I’m delighted with the reliability and support we’ve been able to provide agencies, it ensured Australians were able to access information to keep themselves safe’ said Sharyn Clarkson, GovCMS Founder and Assistant Secretary of Online Services at the Department of Finance. 

GovCMS has been one of the quiet achievers in government IT. Prior to its establishment in 2015, Commonwealth agencies in Canberra were using more than 350 different versions of content management tools, making it difficult for teams to work together across government. 

GovCMS was founded on a principle of ‘create once and share with everyone’. Today, agencies share expertise and people, collaborate to deliver shared features, and solve common problems as a community.  

Security accreditation, procurement and website defences are offered centrally reducing duplication of effort and there is economy of scale that is providing savings to government.  

By choice the service is not mandated, GovCMS prefers to provide a service that attracts agencies to join. 



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