database server Sizing

Posted on 2009-04-02
Last Modified: 2012-05-06

I am working on a Siebel database server upgrade project. I am trying to find out what kind of hardware I will need for this project.

1.      The current server is a Dell 6650 4 CPU/1 core machine with 16 GB RAM and uses SAN as storage.
2.      The server runs MS SQL 2000 and has 160 GB of data. The data size is expected to grow to at least 240 GB within next 4 years.
3.      The system experienced multiple major performance issues a few weeks ago, but it is faster now after performing performance tuning. However, it still takes at least 5 seconds for an external user to login into the Siebel service request module.
4.      The system supports 1100 internal users and 10,000 external users through Siebel service request module.
5.      Some of the frequently used tables have more than 1 million records.
6.      The entire application has around 150 concurrent users connecting to the database server. My team is going to add significant functionality within the next year and is expecting up to 600 concurrent users. Majority of the connections will come from customized code, not Siebel.

Based on discussions with DBA and information from various sources, I am recommending my team to upgrade the server to a 4 CPU/Quad core machine with 64 GB RAM. I am recommending the big size RAM because some of the new code modules need high speed query to reduce waiting time for external uses under high stress load.

My company's server team is recommending a 2 CPU/QUAD core machine with 32 GB of RAM. The team has provided me some benchmark information from Intel and severs vendors. While the numbers look good, I know from my real life experience, a quad core CPU at best is about twice as fast as a single core CPU when running real world applications.  Is this machine good enough for the kind of load that I am planning for?

Question by:lalala66
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 24055356
So what happens if this server fails?

Is there no redundancy?  You may want to look into splitting the database between two servers - maybe one handles certain aspects (say, lookups) while the other handles inserts and updates.

That aside, are you going to upgrade SQL to SQL 2005/2008?

My recommendation would be a compromise - without having any direct knowledge of your environment.

Get a QUAD SOCKET system with DUAL Quad Core CPUs installed.  You now have room to grow if that can't handle it.  In addition, I would load it with RAM.  SQL will use it and it can make a HUGE impact on performance.

Finally, have you done any testing/benchmarking/analysis to find out where you current bottleneck is?  That's actually the first thing you should be doing - reviewing what is happening when the system slows down.  If the processor is idle (or, to put another way, not pegged at 100%, then you likely WOULD be wasting money on 4 QUAD CORE chips.  On the other hand, if the CPU is constantly bouncing around 80-100%, then you know you NEED to replace the CPUs (upgrade the server), first making sure there isn't some odd little utility running that is causing the CPU usage.

Author Comment

ID: 24056005
We will only have this server. We will upgrade to SQL 2005 early next year (it is not a trivial task, given the number of customized modules we have.).

You can only buy quad core servers now with major vendors. We have done analysis on all layers of our environment. Most of them are under powered and aging (4-5 years old). The database server is 5 year old and has about 30-50% cpu usage under normal load.
LVL 95

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 24056877
I didn't say buy DUAL cores - I said buy DUAL QUAD CORES - that is TWO QUAD CORES.

If the CPU is running at 30-50% then the CPU is not the bottle neck.  RAM, disk throughput, network - that could be your bottleneck.  Note that the faster RAM in a much newer system as well as the faster bus speeds could well make a similarly configured system with Quad Core CPUs appear to run faster, but that doesn't mean it's largely due to the changed CPUs.  So I think your idea for quad quad-cores is flawed and you could probably do just fine on a SINGLE Quad Core.  Also, keep in mind, Cache memory typically helps database performance and any new server will likely have more cache memory than the old server.  Finally, SQL 2000 is NOT a "core aware" version of SQL.  You may have problems licensing it appropriately.  SQL 2005 should be less of an issue.

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