webhosting - 1650's versus 6650's etc.

Michael Solberg msolberg at arches.uga.edu
Tue Jun 18 13:59:00 CDT 2002

> We've always had the philosophy of keeping a modest
> number of clients on each 1650 so that in the worst
> case an outage would only effect those customers. 
> However it seems to me that if things are set up
> correctly (RAID, redudant power supplies, etc.) that
> an outage shouldn't be too much of an issue.
> Given enough RAM and CPU (say 4 gigs and 4 Xeon's on a
> 6650 versus 1 gig and 2 PIII's on a 1650) what would
> you do if given the choice?

Even with RAID, redundant power supplies, ethernet cards, CPUs, memory,
there's always one or two single points of failure in a single box.  
We've got a couple of 6450's that had bad power subsystems, and we lost
the entire machines despite all that redundancy.  The best bet is always
to have a whole separate machine in a failover configuration.  This, of
course, is also a ROI issue.  You have to ask how much is uptime worth for
your group.  What you need to do is develop is an overall redundancy plan
that includes failover strategies and then buy machines accordingly.  The
performance of the bigger machines is fantastic, and you'll get more power
per dollar, but I'd rather have two little machines that can take over for
each other than one big one that could cause a blackout.

Another thing to consider is bottlenecking.  With two 1650's, you've got a
pipe to your disk twice as large as with one 6650.  With web, mysql, and
php stuff, you could probably use that performance boost.  The bottlenecks
on our Dell webservers are always the disk IO, not the CPU or the memory.

> Of course I think the bottom line is that I'm just
> trying to find an excuse to justify putting in an
> order for a nice 4 proc 6650 :)

Better yet, justify buying two!

> Anyway, I'd be interested to hear everyones thoughts
> and comments on the matter. I'm always a bit nervous
> to try to place too many clients on a single server
> but it seems like the some of the bigger webhosts/ISPs
> etc. must be doing things like this (ie. tons of
> people on more powerfull servers).
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Michael Solberg
UNIX and Linux System Administrator
Enterprise IT, The University of Georgia

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