Simple Solution to Embarrassing Collapses of Census Website due to Poor Load Testing

The sad truth is that a good load testing solution can be so simple and cost so little

Zhimin Zhan
6 min readApr 23, 2021


(This article was initially published on LinkedIn, 2016–08–10)

09 August 2016, there was no surprise that the Australian Census website collapses due to poor load testing. Now government (including Prime Minister), ABS chief (who earns $705K a year), and many executives are busy shifting blames.

Some news headlines:

On that night, I asked my wife to submit the census earlier (before dinner) as I knew it would crash (it was advised on the Census site that the public need to submit between 6 -9 PM, which was later approved disastrous). I simply knew that very few companies can do load testing against AJAX web applications. This just proved my point again.

What I didn’t know is how much we taxpayers paid for the load testing of this quite simple web app, as reported by the news article: Census website collapses despite millions spent on IT contracts. Some numbers:

  • Melbourne-based Revolution IT has been awarded more than $1 million in contracts from the ABS since December 2015
  • $325,000 for “licenses for Census load testing”
  • $280,000 on licenses for Hewlett Packard Performance Centre
  • a $9.6 million contract to IBM in 2014 to host the eCensus.
  • and various testing-related contracts

‘Revolution IT is a software testing specialist’. I often saw this company’s advertisement at software testing conferences or events. This company changed its name to Ampion in 2020.

We have seen big names (such as IBM), expensive tools, and specialized testing consultancy services were behind the 2016 Census website app. Apparently, money and time investment had not been the issues of this project. However, as the overall population of Australia (in household unit)was required to hit the website at the same…



Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.

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