Solved

WEB SERVER - CAPACITY REQUIREMENTS

Posted on 2004-09-06
14
899 Views
Last Modified: 2010-04-20

Hi,

We are in the process of setting up an E-Business Research service and would value your advice & expertise.

Let me start by providing you with an sight on the service that we are intending to offer.  Simply we have a database hosted on MS SQL that contains 8-10 million records and is approximately 2.5GB in size.  The service we offer is simply to allow registered users access to this database through our web site, by executing reports & searches.  

The database is very dynamic with approximately 1.5 million records added & deleted on a weekly basis.  Therefore it has been agreed that the ‘web server’ database will only be updated on a weekly basis to improve performance (i.e. indexes, stats etc..).

For hosting the Web Site, we have two options…. (1) In House (2) Outsource it.  The costs to Outsource this are extremely high due to (1) Bandwidth Required to update database (2) MS SQL Database.  Estimated costs are approximately US$ 400-US$ 1,200 per month.  I fully agree there are tremendous benefits of hosting a web server with a third party (scalability, realiability etc..), [re: http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Hosting/Q_20566051.html] however being a startup organisation, funds are extremely valuable.  Therefore we have decided to host the web site ourselves.

The question I have for you is, based on the above, what server specification should we purchase.  We are from an IT background (programmers), but regarding server capacity requirements, we are new!  Our doubts are:

1) Network Connection – is 1.5 MB Broadband sufficient?
2) Web Server – What is the difference between a performance PC and a ‘web server’
3) Operating System –  Any recommendations (except Linux due to lack of experience)
4) Multiprocessor – Due to the Database, we expect this a requirement

ANY help will be much appreciated - can anyone point us the right direction to any good sites offering advice.

Many thanks

Angus
0
Comment
Question by:amacfarl
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
14 Comments
 
LVL 33

Accepted Solution

by:
humeniuk earned 250 total points
Comment Utility
1) Network Connection – is 1.5 MB Broadband sufficient?
Hard to say without having more detailed traffic stats.  Also remember that all 1.5MB broadband connections are not the same.  Are you talking about T1 or DSL?  1.5MB or 1.5mbps?  T1 is 1.5mbps in both directions (upload & download) whereas a "1.5MB" DSL connection might be just 640kbs on the upload side.  From the sounds of it, you certainly want something reliable and robust (ie. T1 rather than DSL) anyway.

Something you can do to boost bandwidth is to use dual internet connections.  Used with a dual WAN router (like those made by Xincom, see http://www.xincom.com, or a Cisco dual wan router), you can even load balance your traffic over the two connections and have the added benifit of each backing up the other in the event of a lost connection.

2) Web Server – What is the difference between a performance PC and a ‘web server’
A web server platform (software) can run on a performance PC or on a 'server' (which generally just means it has a different hardware configuration suitable for use as a server).  You almost certainly want to go with a 'server' machine or two (one for web server, one for SQL server).  Apache is a great web server platform, but is typically used with Linux, which you don't want to use.  You can also use Apache with Windows, but Windows comes with its own web server platform (IIS - Internet Information Server).

3) Operating System –  Any recommendations (except Linux due to lack of experience)
If you don't want to use Linux and are already using MS SQL, you probably want to go with Windows 2003 Server.  The version depends on what you are going to do with it.  If it's going to be a dedicated web server, you might want to go with Web Edition and save some money - this may also depend on whether the web server/sql server are on the same machine.  You can compare the different editions and the features they offer at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/evaluation/features/compareeditions.mspx.

4) Multiprocessor – Due to the Database, we expect this a requirement
Again, this may depend on whether you want a single server (web plus SQL) or a dedicated server for each.  A server with dual XEON processors and lots of memory can be pretty potent.  That may be a good choice for you.
0
 
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

by:yuzh
yuzh earned 250 total points
Comment Utility
humeniuk have given to some good advice.

I'll give you my second opinion, although you don't like Linux, I still recommand you to use
*nix (Unix/Linux), I understand that your staff don't have much experiences with *nix, but
they can learn!

*nix in the following areas are a lot better than MS Windows:

      -- Stability: you can run your Web all year without any reboot
      -- Performance: datebase run on *nix perform better than Windows
      -- Scalability: A truly muti-user, muti-tasking OS
      -- Security: virus free, well established security history
      -- On going cost: enjoy open source software, eg, Apache web server is free,
         free MySql, php, perl, SSL and other tools.

The fact, most of the Business Webswerver are runing on *nix!

       You can get free OS, eg Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD for PC. (PS: a Real Sun
box cost more than PC, but they  last for long time, and the price for Sun boxes are dropping
down).

       When you talking about database, you should give information about what type of
database operation are mainly  runing.

       Also, have a look at:
       http://www.bostoncomputing.net/webhosting/unix-vs-windows/
       
      All the best and good luck!
0
 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
Comment Utility
In support of what yuzh is saying, I will add that for a project of any significance (as this appears to be), you should use the best tools for the job.  If you feel Linux is the best choice (for the reasons yuzh has outlined), you should learn it or bring in someone who knows how to use it.

However, I'm not as convinced as yuzh is that there is that much difference between Windows and Linux. With Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has come a long way in answering many of the past criticisms.  An example of where I disagree with yuzh, the initial cost of Windows is certainly higher than Linux, but it costs more to run Linux in the long run, simply because qualified Linux techs are harder to find and get paid more.  Windows is easier to learn and use, so more people know how to learn and use it.  In regards to security, I think a properly configured Windows server is as secure as a properly configured Linux server.  Windows has been more of a target for viruses and hackers because a lot of people don't think much of Microsoft's business methods.  In either case, however, the greatest cause of security problems is admin error and the fact that Windows is so easy to use can become a liability because while it takes less expertise to operate a Windows server, there are more under-qualified people doing so.  Whichever platform you choose, you have to know what you're doing.  Another point - the open source software that yuzh mentioned (MySQL, PHP, etc.) all runs on Windows as well.

While we may not agree on all of these points, yuzh is an excellent expert who consistently gives quality advice, so his points deserve due consideration.
0
 
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:yuzh
Comment Utility
*nix use system resource smarter than Windows, here's my real story:

    I not long ago, I did a test, use Matlab 13 to run a Neural Network simulation
in a 6 years old Sun Ultra 5 (Solaris 8, 64-bit mode, 270Mhz CPU, 128 MB RAM),
and a brand new P4 PC (Windows XP, 2.8 Ghz, 512MB RAM).

   The Windows PC start the process faster than the old Sun box, when the simulation
size reach the memory size of the PC, the system crashed! (we tested it a few times in different
Windows PCs, got the same result). The old Sun box runing slowly when the process
size > 128MB, it was doing swapping, after 2 days, it complete the job.

   I hope that you can get something out of the story. I'm not sure what is going to be happen
when your database > 2.0 GB if you are runing Windows.

>>> Not sure if you can build a Windows Web server with the Software cost of $0. But I
have built a few Unix Web Server (Solaris) and the software cost is $0!

   It is fair to said the Unix(Solaris, HP, AIX...) professional get high pay than a Windows techs,
I think a Linux tech might get lower than a  Unix but higher than Windows. but if you add a
*nix tech in your team, your team add another skill set.
   
   The saving to get from the *nix webserver is not the salaries, it the cost of support from
vendors.

    Please have a look at the following "What Does Linux Cost?"
    http://www.technewsworld.com/story/32844.html

    and "Windows 2003 hosting  vs other hosts"
    http://www.upperhost.com/win_unix.htm

   

   
   
   

0
 
LVL 2

Author Comment

by:amacfarl
Comment Utility
Wow... some great feedback.. thanks to you all.

WINDOWS/LINUX:  It is good to see that the time has come that there is a viable option other than Windows - this was not always the case.  The issue that I have is that my teams knowledge & experience re Linux is ‘zero’.   Being a group of programmers, the learning curve is achievable.  However, on the timescale that we are aiming for, Linux is not a feasible or viable option.  

BANDWIDTH: Your comments have been extremely useful, however unfortunately they have highlighted a extremely large failing in my business plan.  We currently are have a 3MB DSL + 1.5 MB DSL line.  The 3MB is fully utilisied and we were hoping to using the 1.5 MB or lease another 3MB to host the web site.  However, you are indeed correct… it is not 3MB both ways.. uploads are at a pathetic 256K, which is indeed not sufficient to host a web site.  Thanks humeniuk for highlighting this.  I am now looking at alternative options/providers which are able to provide a T1 line.

Regarding capacity….  I used to work in the SAP arena, & capacity is always an issue and a difficult one to judge.  As a general rule is it always best to over estimate rather than under estimate.  However, now as a small business, this time the finances are in short supply.  Thanks for your comments re Server capacity.  I have one followup question.  You mentioned having the separate machines for the DB and Web Server – may I ask why?  Also, is it best to have 2 single processor machines (1 for DB + 1 Web Server) or a 1 multi processor machine (for DB + Web Server).  Cost wise, Complexity.. both are equally comparable.  Re: Scalability …. ??  

What are your views?

Once again – thanks!
0
 
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:yuzh
Comment Utility
>> You mentioned having the separate machines for the DB and Web Server – may I ask
why?

    the database server  handling your database, the web server handle the Web request,
just imagine that if the server is busy with process the database and failed to response
to the web request! and you can put your database server inside the firewall (private
network, more secure).
 
    Please note that a DB server is  I/O bound make sure that you have fast HD, and plenty
of RAM.
   
   
0
How to run any project with ease

Manage projects of all sizes how you want. Great for personal to-do lists, project milestones, team priorities and launch plans.
- Combine task lists, docs, spreadsheets, and chat in one
- View and edit from mobile/offline
- Cut down on emails

 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
Comment Utility
<< I have one followup question.  You mentioned having the separate machines for the DB and Web Server – may I ask why?  Also, is it best to have 2 single processor machines (1 for DB + 1 Web Server) or a 1 multi processor machine (for DB + Web Server).  Cost wise, Complexity.. both are equally comparable.  Re: Scalability …. ??  >>

Cost wise, two machines would be more expensive, in part because you're going to need a pretty solid machine to run your database anyway, as yuzh said 'fast HD, and plenty of RAM' - given the size & workload and to accommodate future growth, you might want to go with the dual processor machine for a dedicated db server.  If you have a dedicated web server, it can be a simpler machine.  But I do think that dedicated servers are a good idea, for all the reasons yuzh mentioned.
0
 
LVL 2

Author Comment

by:amacfarl
Comment Utility
Humeniuk & Yuzh

Thanks for the help, support and direction.  It is much appreciated.  You both have given me much food for thought as well as highlighting some of my failings (which is good!).

I was not able to 'Accept' two replies. So I have accepted humeniuk and provided feedback to Yuzh.

thanks again guys!
0
 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
Comment Utility
<< I was not able to 'Accept' two replies. So I have accepted humeniuk and provided feedback to Yuzh. >>

Actually, you can split points between two (or more) participants.  You have to select 'Split Points' down towards the bottom of your question rather than 'Accept' one of the answers.  It then allows you to choose which answer to designate as the accepted answer and which one(s) to designate as assisted answers.

Keep that in mind for future questions, but in this case, it's too late to take that route.  You can, however, post a request in Community Support (http://www.experts-exchange.com/Community_Support/) to have the answer/points adjusted or have the question re-opened so that you can do so yourself.
0
 
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:yuzh
Comment Utility
That's very  thoughtful of you  humeniuk, thank you.
0
 
LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
Comment Utility
Not at all.  Just cleared up a misconception.  :-)
0
 
LVL 2

Author Comment

by:amacfarl
Comment Utility
There you go chaps... 50-50.
Cheers for your help.
0
 
LVL 2

Author Comment

by:amacfarl
Comment Utility
Hi Humeniuk & Yuzh

I have posted a followup question on this topic

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Web_Servers/Q_21128456.html

I would appreciate if you have time to comment on it.  

Many thanks!!!

Angus
0

Featured Post

Threat Intelligence Starter Resources

Integrating threat intelligence can be challenging, and not all companies are ready. These resources can help you build awareness and prepare for defense.

Join & Write a Comment

Have you ever sent email via ColdFusion and thought of tracking this mail to capture the exact date and time when the message was opened ?  If yes, then this article is for you ! First we need a table user_email with columns user_id , email , sub…
Periodically we have to update or add SSL certificates for customers. Depending upon your hosting plan you may be responsible for the installation and/or key generation. In the wake of Heartbleed many sites were forced to re-key. We will concen…
Sending a Secure fax is easy with eFax Corporate (http://www.enterprise.efax.com). First, Just open a new email message.  In the To field, type your recipient's fax number @efaxsend.com. You can even send a secure international fax — just include t…
In this seventh video of the Xpdf series, we discuss and demonstrate the PDFfonts utility, which lists all the fonts used in a PDF file. It does this via a command line interface, making it suitable for use in programs, scripts, batch files — any pl…

762 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question

Need Help in Real-Time?

Connect with top rated Experts

6 Experts available now in Live!

Get 1:1 Help Now