Posted on 2004-09-13
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-20

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 DB is extremely dynamic.

For hosting the Web Site, we have two options…. (1) In House (2) Outsource it.  

Estimated costs for "Outsourcing" 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..), however being a startup organisation, funds are extremely valuable.  Therefore we decided not to go for this option, instead we "were" planning to host it inhouse.

However, I made the mistake in thinking that we had a connection speed of 1MB Upstream, when in fact we have 256KB. The costs of upgrading to 1MB are huge.  So I have had to re-think... As said above, outsourcing it is not cost effective, so I was considering a middle of the road solution, which is the following:

1. Outsource the Host the Web Server part
2. Host in house the Database.

Therefore the our web application would execute a connection (via http) to the DB and then parse the results.  The benefits of this option are that

(1) We obtain scalability, realiability etc re Web Server
(2) We are able to host the DB ourselves which is the 'expensive' part

In order to enable this solution, we were going to upgrade the 256KB Upstream to 512MB, which is manageable.

The alternative solution to the above is purchase the 512MB Upstream and use a Dual WAN Router to upgrade this further.

The question I have for you experts is:  Based on the above, do you think this is the best soluion?  Do you think 512MB upstream for DB info only is sufficient?

Thanks in advance for your help & support.

Kind regards
Question by:amacfarl
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 12042267
>>Do you think 512MB upstream for DB info only is sufficient?

     If hard to give you a "for sure" answer without kown the peak traffic connections and the
size of the reports send backup to the user, but it looks good.

>>we have two options…. (1) In House (2) Outsource it.  

    If you go for "In house", it is better to maintain both Web and DB server yourself.
"Outsource" also out source both server.

   reason: keep both server in the same place (same subnet), you can make the webserver
outside the firewall and DB inside the firewall, easy to protect your DB server, and you get
better performace for database query, because the two machine can sitting in the same
subnet, it is better than you go for distance database query. If in house, you can get ONE
adm to look after the two server, for out source, you save the salary for the sys adm.
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

humeniuk earned 300 total points
ID: 12043926
I agree with yuzh.  I would much prefer to keep the two servers in closer proximity for the sake of perfomance, efficiency, and stability.  It sounds like the 'in house' solution is the preferred one from a cost perspective, but as noted, if you don't have the required technical knowledge and experience on staff, your additional salary costs will get to $400-$1200/mo pretty quickly.

If you go 'in house', the dual internet connection (ie. 2 x 512kbps - I presume you mean kbps, because if you have 512MBps, you have no problems :-) ) could be a good one for you because of the added redundancy and the possibility of load balancing as well as the additional bandwidth.  Just remember that load balancing incoming traffic is somewhat more complex than load balancing outgoing traffic and you may need ISP's that will allow it.  As yuzh pointed out, though, it's hard to say for sure without traffic stats.  However, if this is a commercial site, you can make sure that if demand requires a faster connection, the revenues will be sufficient to cover it.

If you are concerned about bandwidth, you can also do yourself a favor by making sure you put together an efficient and streamlined website - a classic & classy design without a lot of graphic overhead.

Assisted Solution

sarusij earned 300 total points
ID: 12044055
With 512MB you can host both servers in house and have no trouble. (unless you meant 512KB ?)
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 12044097
If he has an affordable 512MB connection, I want to know where to get one too   :-)

Expert Comment

ID: 12064892
I'd suggest hosting the server at a hosting service like servermatrix.com or valueweb.com, where you can get a good machine for around $120/month.  2.5 GB of data is big, so unless you're going to optimize your queries to death, I'd suggest upping the ram on it to at least 1.5 GB.

Servermatrix and others in it's class offer 1500 GB/transfer per month, and though I can't recall the exact upstream, its really fast.  Plus, you don't have to handle the hardware.

Good luck with your project.

Author Comment

ID: 12065429
Thanks for your replies, apologies for the late response for I have been ill over the last few days.

The general opinion is that in-house is the best solution, thus keeping the two servers close. I will be honest with you all, I prefer the option of keeping the servers seperate. Thus DB Server Local, Web Server Remote.

To host the site inhouse we require 'upstream' bandwidth. In this regard we have the following options re connections:
   - SDSL (2MB Down - 512KB Up)    [one only available]  (US$ 180 p/month)
   - ADSL (512KB Down - 256KB Up) [Multiple available]    (US$ 50 p/month)
   - T1 (1MB down - 1Mb Up)           [One Available]        (US$ 600 p/month)

Therefore to achieve 1MB we need three connections.  Or paying for the T1 line.

Hosting the whole site with a third party is not feasible as the we will still require a good upstream to update the database on a weekly basis and in addition the DB is MS SQL which would add a further US$ 400 cost per month.

Therefore the only other option is split the DB from the Web Server.  Thus were thinking off obtaining the SDSL line which provides us with 512KB Upstream.  We would then build up the DB server for optimal performance and queries would be called via the remote server.

By adopting this split solution, we have scalability on the web server.  In addition, it is cost efficient and reliable.  The only drawback which i see that is the response time between the remote servers.  All the remaining drawbacks I see can be overcome, for example: firewalls etc..  Or am I missing something????  Overall my main concern is bandwidth between the two servers.  We are a new e-company and all projections are guesstimates.  I think the main concern is not the overall capacity however the overall response time... thus step 2 & 4  below

1.User Submits Report
2. call remote DB Server
3. DB executes query
4. return results to Web Server
5. process Report.

If it is hosted in-house, we have higher cost, more technical resources required and less scalable.

What are your views?  Be honest... I wont be hurt if you tell me that I am on a different planet and should step down and start thinking straight.....  

Once again, thanks for your help!!!! Much appreciated.

Kind regards

P.S When I find that 512MB connection for US$4 per year... I will let you know ;-)
LVL 33

Expert Comment

ID: 12065905
Decisions are made for plenty of different reasons and personal preference is one of the most influential ones.  Also, you're not talking about doing anything that hasn't been done before, so from that perspective, I can't fault your preference.

My preference would still be to keep the servers together for all of the reasons given.  To me, these reasons outweigh the gains from moving the web server off-site, but perhaps that simply reflects my own comfort with websites & servers.  Your approach should work, but you may want to test its performance in a high-traffic situation before going live.
LVL 38

Accepted Solution

yuzh earned 300 total points
ID: 12071340
Sorry, I still recommend to keep both servers in the same place:
    1. Security -- DB inside the firewall
    2. Better performance --  database query
    3. Easy for trouble shooting -- In case you have problem between the Web
        and DB server, it is a lot easy to find out what's wrong if they are located in the
        same network (same place).
    4.Cost effective -- Not sure the  extra $400 means to you, and do n't know the market
       price for a qualified sys adm in your city. I thing $400 is not enoug for a sys adm
       2 days pay.

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