[Wolves] Dell at it again

chris procter chris-procter at talk21.com
Tue Mar 15 11:28:35 GMT 2005

> I'm working on setting up my own web server, is this
> offer as good as it 
> seems to me?
> Baza
Well firstly it needs a network card!
Beyond that...

The useless answer:-
Depends what you're serving, for whom and to whom.

The better answer:-
It Depends.
This machine will act as a web server, I've served
website with far worse hardware without problems in
fact I've run dozens of sites of a single machine with
worse specs then this. 

The problems will come if you start to get a decent
number of hits (what "decent" means depends very much
on your site, sorry:-( ).

A proper server designed for a site that expects to
get serious traffic would want 2 network cards for
redundancy, maybe teamed to increase throughput,
preferably connected to different switches and
different external lines to reduce single points of

You'd want several disks in some sort of hardware RAID
setup so that a failed disk isn't fatal (not just to
keep your server going, but in the event of a serious
failure you want to be able to get your data off onto
a replacement machine, tricky if the single harddisk
is a lump of molten slag), you can use software RAID
but its SLOOOOOOOOWWWWW. You would want the disks to
be as fast as possible, SCSI used to be the best for
this, these days I'm not sure but 10000rpm disks are
easily possible.

Backups. You need tape drive or some other way of
backing up your machine. It will go wrong, you will
need to restore data from an external source, you do
need to work out how to do this, and you do need to
make sure it happens. This is probably true even for a
small server, you need to be more formal if you are
making money from the server.

You would want *a lot* more ram, each simultaneous
user creates their own thread, each thread uses
memory, each cgi/php page loaded and run uses memory,
data stored in a database eats memory etc etc etc you
get the idea. Its easy to add ram if you need more,
but that means downtime and downtime costs money (and

Duel power supplies are a must as well, there is
nothing quite like walking into a server room with the
strong smell of burning in the air and realising you
server power supply has gone up in flames and the
phones are starting to light up with complaints (this
has happened to me several times in my sysadmining
days), this is especially bad if you have non-standard
parts in the machine so you can't easily canabilise a
less important machine to get you back in action.

One other factor is that this has a desktop case,
hosting companies would normally charge by rackspace
used so the smaller case you get your machine into the
cheaper it is. Rackmounts also look better, its very
dispiriting to have your hosting company laugh at you
as you bring in your new machine (yes thats happened
as well, never let managment buy hardware!).

With a webserver the bottlenecks are network and disk
access, the cpu isn't normally taxed that much. If you
are looking to get a few hundred hits a day for a site
run as a favour then you are probably fine with this
sort of machine. If you are going to get a few hundred
hits a minute and/or are getting paid money to host
for other people then this is a toy and you want a
proper server.

It all comes down to how many simultaneous
(simultaneous is all important, per day is meaningless
except as a guide to how many simultaneous hit you
might expect) users you will have, and sort of uptimes
you want, and how much it will cost you if it's down
for an hour/day/week when something goes wrong.


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