Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints


Oct 10, 2013

facebook Add This

Stress Test Prepares VisaNet for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

For many, the changing colors of leaves not only signify autumn, but the transition into the holiday season.  Here at Visa, we don’t wait for the changing colors to prepare for the heavy onslaught of shopping during the most wonderful time of the year.

Every summer, we run our annual Stress Test which pushes VisaNet – the world’s largest retail payments network – to its capacity in order to determine how we can better prepare our systems for the busiest time of the year. In order to do this, a group of VisaNet engineers packs their bags – which include hardware and software that emulates our network – and goes to Gaithersburg, Maryland where an IBM state-of-the-art testing facility is located.

Once there, our engineers create a mirror image of VisaNet’s authorization systems and the fun begins. For five days, they bombard the systems with simulated transactions. The objective is to validate the hardware and software configuration against expected peak message rates. At the same time, we look into extreme message rate scenarios to uncover any possible bottlenecks that may need future remediation.

After the test is concluded, the VisaNet team determines the best configuration to maintain our higher levels of security and reliability when millions of transactions from all over the world hit the network during the holiday shopping season. As a result, they also come back from Gaithersburg with a number that represents the maximum processing capacity VisaNet can handle, which later is stamped on coffee mugs and distributed to the team involved in the test. This year’s “mug number” – as we like to call it – is 47,000 transaction messages per second, which is a huge step forward from 2012’s peak capacity of 30,000 transaction messages per second! 

While VisaNet only processes about a third of its capacity today, the Stress Test demonstrates Visa’s commitment to providing consumers, businesses and governments around the world with a reliable form of payment today and in the future. By future-proofing our network to handle incremental volume – whether coming from newly banked consumers in developing markets or from additional transactional data from emerging channels like mobile – we’re ensuring that consumers all over the world can always count on Visa to securely and conveniently handle their payments.

Posted by: Manny Trillo, Head of Global Transaction Services on October 10, 2013 at 8:15 am

Category: VIsaNet