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I need a web server for static web content, a corporate blog and the company e-commerce system. I have some ideas, but thought of seeking additional feedback from the world's best server pros!

NOTE 1 - the company has around 300 customers, and revenues around $1 Million. Let's see, several hundred users a day, downloading and otherwise viewing our site. I'm hoping the new server will help us boost traffic so I want to give myself something to grow into. So far, I'm looking at something lie:

8-core Opteron
16-32 GB RAM
4 x 1 TB drives (some kind of RAID)
Gigabit LAN

Am I on the right track?

NOTE 2 - This is what I went with:

  • Rackform nServ A161
  • Opteron 6128 2.0GHz, 8-Core
  • 16GB (4 x 4GB) Operating at 1333MHz Max (DDR3-1333
  • 2 x Intel 82574L Gigabit Ethernet Controllers
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with Dedicated LAN
  • LSI 9260-4i 6Gb/s SAS/SATA RAID
  • 4 X 1TB Seagate Constellation ES Optical Drive:
  • Low-Profile DVD+/-RW Drive Power
  • 350W Power Supply
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You are going to need to provide us with a lot more information. How many users, How much Data, concurent connections etc. –  Luma Oct 13 '10 at 21:56
8  
How long, exactly, is a piece of string? –  Izzy Oct 13 '10 at 22:00
1  
@Izzy Twice the length from one end to the middle. –  Tom O'Connor Oct 13 '10 at 23:43
    
@Tom, nice one ;--) –  nicorellius Oct 14 '10 at 0:14
1  
@Izzy Nice. string.length? –  gWaldo Oct 14 '10 at 1:03

5 Answers 5

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, you are on the right track. Most web servers need CPUs, RAM, storage, and network connections.

You need to put more thought into your requirements. Once you have those you can design an architecture and find software that meets those requirements (iterate as needed). The software should have parameterized hardware requirements.

Sizing a server is not an exact science so you should design it with the ability to scale and you should implement monitoring so you know when and where to scale.

Random considerations:

  • Usually having 1 server is not a good idea because there is no redundancy. More generally, what are your availability reqs? Do you need a load balancer?
  • If you are going to run an ecommerce site you usually have a database and it is on a separate system with a firewall between it and the web server.
  • You need to consider security. Do you want to run a wordpress blog on the same server as your ecommerce site?
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Thanks for the advice. I know I didn't give much info and I apologize for that... I also recommended the guy paying for this consider multiple servers and more security for sensitive data. –  nicorellius Oct 18 '10 at 16:14

One thing that's worth considering is dividing up your environment into more than one server. For example, use a couple of machines as load balancers, a couple as web nodes, and two more as redundant database nodes. This may be tough to do on budget with physical hardware and you may find it difficult to scale up if things begin to take off.

Have you considered virtualized hosting (VPS/Cloud/etc)? Your initial costs would be lower and you'd be able to play with your setup and re-purpose VM's for other tasks as you see fit. Most providers toss in a private network for free, so that's an added benefit.

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I've worked in a $1 million company before (it was [ahem] small...), so making wide sweeping assumptions (given that I'm lacking huge amounts of detail), I'm going to say that it will probably be just fine even during your peak load.

But servers don't boost traffic. If you're having problems with supporting the load with your existing hardware, then additional hardware is the answer. If you're having trouble getting people to use it, well, that's another story...

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Yeah, without more information, it's hard to say. What OS, Web Server, any app server, etc.? If this guy is just serving up static content, I'd say you're extremely overscaled. Bottom line, we have to know what a system is doing before we can size it.

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More things you might consider:

Backups

Make sure you've factored these in. Preferably in a different data center rather than the same (or even both).

Redundancy

Multiple smaller servers instead of one big one. Depending on how you do it, you may be able to do it quite economically and allow for better future scalability and an added bonus is that if one breaks down, you may be able to use the other(s) to take up the slack.

Anyway, these are just things to consider, though backups are pretty important as I've no doubt you're aware.

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