how many users could this webserver handle

Posted on 2004-10-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
i know this is a hard question to ask - but i need help figuring out the specs i'm going to need on a webserver.

I'm just looking for a rough response - eg. "that will be totally fine" or "you may need to look into this..."

I'm ordering an IBM x235 tower server with:

dual Xeon 3.2 GHZ processors
ultra320 Maxtor 10K 300 GB HDD
ServeRaid-6M ultra320 RAID controller

its going to have a dedicated 5mbps connection to the internet.

The application its running is all webservices - which do little computational work - they mainly just make fairly simple SQL queries against a database adn return the recordsets to the clients.  The applicaiton also accepts a lot of uploaded files from clients and stores them locally.

In terms of meeting capacity - what do I need to be thinking about?  is there some way of knowing how many resources a connection will take up?  i.e. could this thing support several thousand concurrent users?  I'm trying to get a rough idea of whether this is enough horsepower or whether i need to beef it up some more.

Question by:kenshaw
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Expert Comment

by:Stephen Hopkins
ID: 12209858
Measuring web server performance is a challenging task.  Measurement is highly dependent on the server design, web site design and most importantly, the tools used to measure performance.  SpecWeb and httperf are two common tools used for performance measurement.  SpecWeb is a retail product available for purchase at http://www.specbench.org/osg/web99/.   HTTPERF can be downloaded at http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/David_Mosberger/httperf.html.  The linked to web site also includes a detailed discussion of httperf.

Author Comment

ID: 12209997
ok... though can anyone comment from their experience as to how many concurrent connections they supported with a similar hardware setup?

What are the weak points?  should I add more processors?  RAM?  or will network bandwidth be my bottleneck?

Accepted Solution

jpierson_jerome earned 2000 total points
ID: 12210665
I am thinking that your WAN connection is sufficient.

I am concerned about what you are expecting from your server and how you might be planning for security.

How many people do you think will access the sites per minute or per hour?  How about in the future?

What do you expect the peak usage to be?

Are you going to run SQL on this server or another?   Have you considered how you will keep the SQL server secure?  I would suggest running SQL on another server.

I am assuming you are planning on a Windows OS.  What are you going to run for server-side scripts?

Is this a mission critical server?  For the sake of redundancy and performance,  you may want to  run a cluster of two to four servers to handle the HTTP Requests.

You may want to consider another server for handling the file uploads and storage.  Here RAM and processor speed are not as important as HD space and speed.  What size files to clients upload.

My thinking is that processor numbers are not going to be as critical as RAM, HD speed, and redundancy.


Author Comment

ID: 12210720
ok - so to give you a better picture.

The application is a document management system - so its a lot of file upload.

The two webservers will be running win2k3 web edition and the code is all ASP.NET assemblies.

I'm thinking two servers clustered in an active/active load balancing setup.  I'll be using a hardware load balancer.  I'm a little confused here though... if i'm using a hardware load balancer - will the two server's actually be clustered?  or will the load balancer have an IP address adn thats what the users connect to?  will teh webservers actually be running microsoft clustering service?

Anyway... the two webservers will share an external SCSI storage box with two 7 disk RAID 5 arrays setup on it with each array on its own channel.  (external box is the IBM EXP400).

The SQL server instance will be on another cluster networked in setup using an active/passive failover configuration with the two nodes sharing their own hard disk enclosure (IBM EXP400 supports 14 SCSI disks).  The SQL server will be on its own private network - only connected to the two web servers - nothing else.  These nodes will be the same hardware config (dual XEON processors).

I'm hoping to support around 5000 concurrent users.... am I dreaming?  Do i need to up the ram?

Expert Comment

by:Stephen Hopkins
ID: 12212247
You are dealing with several areas of unknown and possibilities.  The bottom line is that you are trying to establish specifications for an application with which you do not have historical performance data.   Without performance testing of your ASP.net assemblies, SQL server operation and storage database, you will find matching hardware to performance to be quite challenging.  However, you are looking for a "a rough response" so we can make some assumptions and reduce the unknowns.

Processors:  Dual Xeon 3.2 GHZ.  The application load you described is the kind which these processors were designed for.  Varying the speed by +/- .5 GHz will not make much difference.  There is not a linear relationship in performance increase with the increase of processor speed.  Also, you will pay significantly more $ for increased speed with without the same increase in performance results.  Recommendation.  Selected processors are good.

Memory: 4 GB of PC2100 ECC DDR SDRAM.  Memory can be the crux of your performance limitiations.  I like 4 GB.  I would like more.  You will not need the additional RAM initially.  However, this will be the first upgrade to plan for as the use of the web server increases.  I do not like the slow 2100 speed.  Recommendation:  Get RAM with faster speed.

Hard Drives: ultra320 Maxtor 10K 300 GB HDD.  Good size.  Good speed.  Good Reliability.  Recommendation:  Selected hard drives are good.

RAID Controller:  ServeRaid-6M ultra320 RAID controller.  Ditto.  Recommendation: Selected RAID controller is good.

Internet Connection:  Dedicated 5 mbps.  THis is a great starting speed.  Unles you reach global magnitudes comparable to the big companies (IBM, Microsoft, etc.), you should not require more bandwidth.

O/S:  Win2k3 web edition.  Ok. This is the customized version of W2K for web use.  However, I am still on the fence about it.  The customized versions (tailored) of some Microsoft products may limit performance in the non-focus areas and may also limit the ability to tune the O/S.  For example Small Business Server 4.5 severely limitied the available tools and optimizations an admin could perform on the O/S.  Your backbone application is SQL server.  This would drive me to use a non-tailored W2K3 Server software.  However, SQL Sever will be running on a different cluster.  If you are interfacing the SQL server via web based routines from the web server, then W2K3 Web Edition should be acceptable.  You may have to accept a lesser degree of performance tuning for non web based features of the server.   Recommendation:  Operate the SQL server off of W2K3 Enterprise Server.  Consider this for the web servers also.

Web Routines: ASP.NET assemblies.  This is one of the technologies  W2K3 o/s are optimized for.  Recommendation.  Good choice.

External Storage:  Two 7 disk RAID 5 arrays setup on it with each array on its own channel.  No change recommended.

Overall.  Speed up the RAM.  Change the O/S.

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