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I have a client with a large ASP app that apparently is fairly memory intensive. I’m helping them migrate to new hardware running Win2k8 R2. They have 4 physical servers with 32gb of RAM each. I’m making the assumption that ASP apps run as a x32 process. So I see that we have two options:

  • Enabled Web Gardens for the Application Pool
  • Use the physical servers as VM hosts and split the box into (say) 4 web servers each

Any thoughts on which path will provide us better performance?

I’m just not really sure how ASP will handle a machine with lots of memory, and I’m worried it won’t really be able to address the memory well.

(you can ignore all the obvious stuff like increased maintenance of 16 web servers vs 4, or the flexibility virtualization gets us over physical servers, etc)

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Note that if the classic ASP app uses IIS sessions to manage state then the web garden approach may break it. – Chris_K Jul 13 '10 at 4:59
Sorry I should have mentioned that originally. The ASP app uses out of process sessions so web gardens will work. In fact web gardens have been tested for functionality so I know it is a viable solution. – Steve Evans Jul 13 '10 at 5:10

We talked on Twitter, but I'll post here as well. Multiple VMs will probably be the better option (IMHO) as I believe that ASP runs in the 32bit space only so 2 Gigs of RAM can be accessed.

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Actually since you will be running in a 64-bit OS with the Application Pools marked as enable32BitAppOnWin64 (…) you will be able to address the full 4GB (if the OS was 32-bit then you are correct you would only be able to address 2). I would actually test the WebGarden scenario, since that might actually give you better performance since it does not have all the overhead of a full operating system virtualization, but that depends on the application and how smart it uses the 4GB. – Carlos Aguilar Mares Jul 13 '10 at 15:14
I would second mrdenny's thought. Even if the application is given access to the full 4GB of memory, being Classic ASP it probably wasn't designed (or designed well enough) to deal with large amounts of memory. Even though running VM's will introduce some overhead, I think overall you would get better performance by having multiple virtual servers. – Coding Gorilla Aug 20 '10 at 14:11

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