For a number of different reasons in the last year or two, I have had issues with servers that run processes which tend to cause very heavy load averages.
In these cases, I can often ping the server, but it becomes very unresponsive to any other connections, and I often have to power cycle the machine.
One reason for causing this huge load include a poorly configured Apache process on a virtual server that allowed too many concurrent connections for the hardware allocated to it, and I seem to have ran some programs on another server tonight that appears to have done something similar.
What I am curious about is linux has tools that detect a very large load average and interrupt those processes in some way, allowing the machine to recover from this?
My apologies if I have not worded this well, I appreciate it is pretty open-ended.