Server Infrastructure and managements

Umesh Modi
Umesh Modi used Ask the Experts™
We are small online publishing company having, , and many more domains. We had started our business on small scale and since then its been growing day by day which has resulted into a huge visitor base for each of them.
To give you view of our current scenario; uptil today we had configured all the existing portals on one server. due to which our server is getting crowded. So we are planning to extend server quantity; for the load balancing infrastructure.
But since we are new player in this technology; I would be obliged if you can help us out with this issue and give us a brief vision about the technical difficulties with the following points.
i. What is Load Balancing ?
ii. What is the exact procedure behind load balancing?
iii. As we have 3 major load on the server i.e. mail server, file server & SQL server. so can we segregate each one of them on separate servers. If yes, then what should be the configuration of each server and is it affordable for the volume of my business.
iv.  How to manage the dependency of multiple servers and who is providing such facility?
v. I have heard about the system like; if one server goes down then automatically another server takes over the charge at same movement. can you please briefly explain about this technology? and if this technology is beneficial for me then i would definitely like to go for such a technology.
vi. lastly, As earlier mentioned about the load issue for 3 major subject but apart from that should I move the domains which has tremendous traffic?
Taking all the above points into consideration i would want you to suggest me and economical as well as beneficial solution with an detailed technical procedure.  
Tushar Ghodake

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i. it is redirecting connections to one of the server participating in NLB
ii. thre are some network playing and kind of broker deciding which server will support given connection
iii. It's good idea to separate them. You should size your servers separately and it's really hard to do without exact usage data, especially in SQL.
iv. your servers (mail, files and SQL) are usually separate, so probably no dependency configuration is needed. Maybe SQL uses e-mail but there is rather low probability
v.  this is called clustering and requires enterprise editions of Windows servers and special storage systems. There is a special service that detects condition of email or sql and brings it up on one machine if it fails on another one.
vi. you have to examine performance issues more thoroughly with perfmon counters.

Generally, load ballancin is ok for web servers and quite useless for SQL. For e-mail or file servers the best approach rely on good design and separation of responsibilities. You may put first user group on one server and second one on another and so on. It's the simplest solution and usually gives best results.
Load balancing is, like the name explain, is a resource to distribute a service load between two or more servers.

But before think about load balancing must understand your needs. How many users do you have in your network? How much mailbox and data do you have in your Exchange server? How size is your SQL database(s). You said only about internet hits... you need suplly only external access and prove hosting to your sites? maybe is better to host your websites in a datacenter than in your office for security, backup and availability.

A cluster service, wich allow high availability is very expensive. A cluster farm (to have high availability to internet services) as a high cost.

Your infrastrucuture planning is the key for the project success. it must be carefuly done before spent one cent in technology.


I am giving B because I wanted to be a clear solution. I mean a to z solution.
Hi Tushar,

To have a clear solution you must have your planning done with all today and future needs. A Infrastructure is very expensive and must run at least 3 years without any major modification (if the scenario dont change). It the hardiest part in a project.

To design a good infrastucture for your needs, just understand the technologies it´s not enough. Have some help from a MCSE or equivalent to avoid problems in the future.

Good luck!

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