Which one is better and why? What are the pros/cons of the two method?

Build a trafficed website with

  • using three powerful physical server as webserver for serving dynamic pages (with apache/php) and loadbalancing requests among them
  • or split up the same three powerful machines into more virtual machines (for example with using Xen) and running apache/php inside every virtual machines and load balancing requests among them. For example this way if I divide a phisycal server into 4 virtual servers I have got 12 virtual machines and everyone is running apache/php.

It's just an idea, but can I this way achive more reliability, maybe better usage of resurces?

This question is just about http servers. DB servers, storages all the other things is a different story. This 3 box is dedicated for dynamic http serving.

All opinion and experience is welcomed!


If all the web servers are running the same app or set of apps then using the physical machines directly will be more efficient, noticeably so in most cases and significantly so in some. The OS on the physical host will be able to balance memory and CPU between the processes more effectively and there will not be any performance hit due to the virtualisation layer(s).

If you had one server that yuo were splitting up then you would gin the advantage of separation: the software in one of the VMs could completely fall over and the others would try take up the slack due to the load balancing - but if you have three physical servers you have that advantage anyway.

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