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A DNN Success Story: Scaling Up an Existing DNN Platform by 4,900%

Managed hosting experts PointClick Technologies have spent  many years learning the most effective ways to optimize CMS applications of all types, including the powerful DNN platform. And while there’s no doubt that PointClick has built a long list of accomplishments for their clients over the past several years, one of their most impressive success stories came to fruition just a few months ago, during the summer of 2014.

At that time, PointClick management was contacted by Dave Buten, president and co-founder – along with his wife, Palmira – of Budget Challenge. This company, which originally opened its doors in Ohio in 2005, was developed with the goal of teaching high school students how to balance a personal budget. Using an interactive online game, kids were provided with a “paycheck,” then challenged to manage their money effectively enough to pay their bills on time and save for retirement. The company grew slowly for the first several years, reaching a total of about 4,000 students during all of 2013.

Then, in the spring of 2014, H&R Block contacted the management at Budget Challenge. The powerhouse tax company’s philanthropic arm, their Dollars and Sense program, had heard of the small company and was interested in forming a partnership. H&R Block wanted to give scholarships to students, and what better vehicle than Budget Challenge to do just that.

While the folks at Budget Challenge were thrilled at the prospect of teaming up with the tax mega company, they were immediately faced with a challenge of their own: how to scale up their existing DNN system from 4,000 users in all of 2013 to an expected 200,000 in the 2014-2015 school year – an increase of approximately 4,900%!

Accommodating 50,000 Concurrent Users: The Play-by-Play

Budget Challenge management had always been satisfied with their DNN platform. But when they approached their previous provider and asked for their help in scaling up the system to handle 50,000 concurrent users, their provider wasn’t able to accomplish the task. In fact, when the other provider tested the system, it failed miserably. That’s when Dave Buten was introduced to PointClick Technologies. The DNN experts at PointClick knew that DNN was capable of handling the load – it was just a matter of optimizing the system. Here’s how they did it:

1.       Budget Challenge’s entire environment was migrated to PointClick to allow their staff to better evaluate the current status of the platform. After conducting the exact same test as the previous provider had performed – and without making any other changes to the system – PointClick experts found that the system yielded a 100% increase in performance. Budget Challenge’s DNN platform exhibited a marked improvement simply by switching to PointClick!

2.       Working with IowaComputerGurus, an Iowa-based computer consulting firm, PointClick next used New Relic’s Server Monitoring and Application Performance Monitoring tools in order to understand what was going on with the servers and applications. 

3.       The next step in the process involved IowaComputerGurus upgrading the system to Evoq Content, a supported version through DNN software. This enhanced the platform’s load-handling capability. At this point, the Budget Challenge system could easily accommodate between 1,000 and 1,200 concurrent users.

4.       Next, it was PointClick’s turn. They reduced the overhead on the servers by offsetting between 70% and 80% of the load to Incapsula’s Content Delivery Network and Web Application Security services. The Budget Challenge platform could now accommodate between 20,000 and 25,000 concurrent users.

5.       Finally, IowaComputerGurus took a close look at the server configuration and database code, specifically the core configurations of ASP.NET, IIS, and the Windows Servers. After making some modifications, the Budget Challenge platform was finally able to accommodate 50,000 concurrent users or more – an increase of approximately 4,900%!

Today, Budget Challenge and their partnership with H&R Block continues to grow. Nearly 2,000 students per day are currently registered. The DNN platform now handles 55,000 page views or more per hour with relative ease. The system is running approximately 20,000 sessions each day, and their load time typically averages around 0.95 seconds.

Sharing the Story at DNNCon

Given the impressive nature of this story, it’s no wonder that the folks at DNN invited PointClick president and CEO Malik Khan to be a guest speaker at the DNNCon 2014. Malik decided the best way to demonstrate how to optimize DNN was with a hands-on live demonstration, and that’s just what he did with the participants who attended his DNNCon 2014 presentation.

Download the case study today for more information on this incredible DNN success story:


2sic Daniel Mettler
I personally find this blog to purely sales-oriented and of little value to the reader. There is nothing to learn or replicate - except for buying the services supposedly doing a great job here. Also because the linked texts and the pages behind the links have little in common - why should the text "Managed hosting experts PointClick" point to a page called This is pure sales - not what we want to promote here.

I suggest this is removed, as it doesn't adhere to the rules of this blog.
2sic Daniel Mettler Thursday, November 20, 2014 7:35 AM (link)
Will Strohl

I strongly disagree with your view on this blog post. This is one of a series of blog posts to (1) disseminate information from DNNCon for attendees that wanted the follow-up information, and (2) to let those that weren't able to attend know what was in the sessions. Personally, I got a lot out of this blog post since this is one of many sessions that I wasn't able to attend.


Thank you for posting this. You are one of the reasons our community is so great. Your participation through providing services, sponsoring events, giving presentations, and posting the information you've gathered helps others in the community build upon what they already know about DNN - which makes the overall community that much better for it! :)

And I agree with you. DNN is my family too. I can't wait for our next DNN Thanksgiving. ;)
Will Strohl Thursday, November 20, 2014 11:58 AM (link)
Malik Khan
@ Daniel, thank you for the feedback and appreciate your point of view. We do have a follow up blog with more details and technical insight and are planning a live webinar of the same demonstration we did at DNN Con for those that were not able to attend my session with Mitchel Sellers.

@ Will, thank you for the support. DNNCon 2015!!!
Malik Khan Thursday, November 20, 2014 12:25 PM (link)
2sic Daniel Mettler
@Malik: That would be awesome. Share what you do and how you do it, and I'll love you for it :)

Stay sxc,
2sic Daniel Mettler Thursday, November 20, 2014 12:28 PM (link)
Jay Mathis
Looking forward to seeing the technical details of how you actually did this. Sounds promising but I would like to know the details.
Jay Mathis Friday, November 21, 2014 11:28 PM (link)
Joe Brinkman
Even without more details, which Malik has said he is happy to share in a follow on webinar, I find these stories valuable as a marketing tool. I have heard numerous requests over the years to hear about success stories and to see some scalability metrics for DNN. Sometimes just knowing what is possible keeps some potential users engaged. I don't personally know all the details involved in the DoD implementation, but just knowing the scale of what they accomplished shows that the platform can scale, and sometimes that is all that a potential customer needs to know. This is another great case study on scalability and DNN and that is good for everyone as it helps validate the platform.
Joe Brinkman Sunday, November 23, 2014 11:04 PM (link)

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