The VIES report: September and October 2013

Two months have passed since our last VIES report two months; its time to take a look at how this very important site hosted by the European Commission has behaved in September and October 2013. The reasons why the VIES application is so important for ecommerce businesses are explained here.

September 2013

September was an incredible month for the VIES site – it was the first month ever (at least since we are monitoring the site) with a 100% up-time. It seemed that the IT team working for the European Commission has finally managed to keep everything in a perfect working order.

VIES-uptime-Sept-2013.html

A reasonable response time of below 1 second was maintained for most of the month with a spike of over 1.5 second centered around 18 September (+/- 2 days). Afterwards the response time has improved until the end of the month. The spike on the last September was an announcement of rougher times for VIES.

VIES-response-time-Sept-2013.html

October 2013

After the “perfect strike” in September the October period felt like a left down: 64 down-times with a total down-time duration of 5.5 hours. Despite the down-times, the VIES page was running 99.24% of the time – this indicates that the issues with the site were followed up relatively quickly.

VIES-downtime-Oct-2013.html

There were also quite some issues with the response time in October. The average monthly response time decreased to approximately 1400 ms, but there were days with an average response exceeding 4 seconds. That is not good at all.

VIES-response-time-Oct-2013.html

Next steps

The above pretty pictures and general results that we have been discussing for the last five months are well and nice. However, we are not satisfied with this level of details as they do not say anything about the actual response time for queries on specific VAT numbers.

We have started to experiment with some advanced monitoring mid October in order to get a better overview of what is going on “behind the screen” in relation to VIES accessing the VAT databases of the 28 national EU tax authorities. This initial expanded monitoring correlated with the period of VIES “instability” and the results were very sobering: there were days when most of the responses for verification of individual VAT numbers exceeded 40 seconds – or even timed out without returning any results. This lag is much too high for any ecommerce company trying to verify VAT numbers of its B2B customers in real-time.

Unfortunately we have met some hiccups with the initial tests and therefore the first results were not representative. We believe our monitoring setup being fully reliable since mid November and we will share these results with you as soon as our Big data team stops crunching the numbers and produces some nice graphs for your enjoyment. Please expect first expanded report in December or January.