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  #1  
Old 04-23-2006, 12:02 PM
smkied smkied is offline
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Question

Server Specs and Rackspace?


Hello Everyone,

So I am setting up a managed server for a client of mine. Since uptime and service is extremely important, we will be using Rackspace. However, I'm not overly familiar with the managed server world so I have a couple of questions for you:

1) Is Rackspace really that good? Does anyone have any *negative* stories about them?

2) Are these server specs going to be able to uphold 700,000 hits per day traffic:

- Athlon 64 3200+
- 1GB DDR
- 2 x 73GB SCSI Raid 1 (Mirror)

The reps at Rackspace tell me these specs are fine, and if anything I can always upgrade. But I don't want to have to upgrade, since we're not willing to go and put out cash right off the bat to be upgrading the site. It would seem like they are just saying that this server is fine to get us to sign up, and then once we're there we'll notice that the performance sucks and will be forced to put out extra cash for upgrades. We can't afford that.

Furthermore, I decided not to get the Plesk panel through Rackspace since they charge $105/month for it while I can just got and buy a license from Plesk for a one-time fee of $200.

3) Do you think Rackspace support will still help me out from time to time if I run into Plesk problems? Do such problems occur often? We will only be hosting 1 website on the server, maybe 2 later on.

I think that's everything for now. Thanks for all your help!



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  #2  
Old 04-23-2006, 01:10 PM
reiteration reiteration is offline
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Hi,

A managed server means just that, you shouldn't need to do anything with the server apart from drop your content on - everything else should be handled by the provider.

However, you'll find most companies don't provide this service and instead provide what I call semi-managed (they look after the OS only)

My opinion on the hardware is that its quite sub-standard for 700,000 hits per day especially if you running any active content.

It all depends if you want your visitors to have a good experience or you just want a server that'll handle it. If your looking to start with 700,000 and grow to 2 or 3 million expect to upgrade the server very soon.

For a 700,000 hit site I'd sugguest a minimum of 2GB ram, dual-core Opteron and multiple scsi drives with hardware raid. I'd look into getting a server that scales well. eg drop another cpu in for a total of 4x cores, add more disks and be able to max out RAM.

John

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  #3  
Old 04-23-2006, 01:18 PM
smkied smkied is offline
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So my suspicion is correct, they are simply giving me something that will "work" and then I will be forced to upgrade, and therefore pay more money?

How would a solution like the one prepared by Rackspace differ from choosing a provider like Mosso.com.

It would seem that in many cases, being on a shared server (or shared server system/cluster) gives more performance benefits since it has more burstable processing power overall. Mosso servers are run by Rackspace anyway, and fall under the same uptime SLA.

Any comments in that direction?

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  #4  
Old 04-23-2006, 01:37 PM
reiteration reiteration is offline
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mosso is not going to be much different.

Its still a shared systems after all and still has X amount of performance - at least with your own server you dictate how much power you give it.

I can't see mosso allowing high traffic/demanding sites on their system as its simply not cost effective for a client to consume too much resources.

You may like to look at alternatives to rackspace, I can only speak from my clients experiencies with rackspace.co.uk, getting 2 totally different quotes when they played "dumb" for exactly the same setup.

They do have a top notch network and a good name, although that depends if its more important to have a name than the service you need.

John

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  #5  
Old 04-23-2006, 01:38 PM
The Napster The Napster is offline
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With RackSpace you will be paying at least $400 a month for a single server BUT you get 24X7 live support and 24X7 phone support...... They also have all sorts of other guarantees in place like the "1 hour hardware replacement" etc.

Don't get me wrong i have NEVER used them but im sure if you can afford them they will be absolutely super.

  #6  
Old 04-23-2006, 02:51 PM
smkied smkied is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Napster
With RackSpace you will be paying at least $400 a month for a single server BUT you get 24X7 live support and 24X7 phone support...... They also have all sorts of other guarantees in place like the "1 hour hardware replacement" etc.

Don't get me wrong i have NEVER used them but im sure if you can afford them they will be absolutely super.
The original quote for the system shown above is actually $330.00. As you can see, the system is apparantley insufficient for the usage statistics that I had provided them.

However, Mosso also offers 24/7 support, 100% network, and 2 hour hardware SLA. Also, the servers are in a cluster format meaning that the burstable resource access is infact greater than that of a single manged server. Doesn't it seem like just going ahead with the Mosso plan would be a better solution for my site? In many instances it seems that while Rackspace is really good, they will constantly be trying to drive the price up and make my client spend more coin which at the moment is somewhat difficult.

Basically what I am comparing here is:

[Athlon 64 3200, 1GB DDR, 2x73GB SCSI for $330/month] vs. [Mosso.com cluster server environment for $100/month]

The site being hosted on there will recieve upwards from 700,000 hits per day eventually expading to probably no more than 2,000,000 hits per day a year down the road. Think the Mosso network can uphold that? Could the Athlon 64 server?

  #7  
Old 04-23-2006, 03:13 PM
layer0 layer0 is offline
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Mosso is a venture company of RackSpace, just so you're aware - the 'network' is not a bottleneck...

Mosso's http segment of the cluster was down for the vast majority of a day at one point. I think that says enough.

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  #8  
Old 04-23-2006, 03:19 PM
smkied smkied is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elix
Mosso is a venture company of RackSpace, just so you're aware - the 'network' is not a bottleneck...

Mosso's http segment of the cluster was down for the vast majority of a day at one point. I think that says enough.
So just because they are hosted by Rackspace doesn't mean much, right?

It would seem then, that in order to upkeep a site of roughly 1,000,000 hits a day you need to dish out like $450.00/month for a decent Rackspace managed server? Otherwise, they'll just stuff you with whatever you agree to pay and then tell you that your server is overloaded and they recommend an upgrade?

That sort of customer service worries me. It's like they are trying to trick you into signing a contract, and then when it's signed you have only 2 choices:

A) Put up with the slow server you initially agreed to or
B) Pay more money to get the kind of server you really need but they didn't tell you about before (because you wouldn't be able to pay that much).

Correct?

  #9  
Old 04-23-2006, 03:22 PM
JohnCrowley JohnCrowley is offline
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Are your pages mostly static pages with limited mysql/dynamic content? If so, that system is more than enough for that level of hits. Even with moderate dynamic usage, you should be fine. The SCSI drives will speed up I/O, and 1 GB of RAM is usually enough. The processor with 1MB L2 cache should be more than enough as well.

We have some busy sites on P4 2.0s with 512 MB of RAM and they are flying with 1 million hits a day. It really depends on how well your dynamic portion is coded, and how heavy your MySQL queries will be.

Rackspace is one of the best managed server providers around. They are more expensive, but their network and support team are tough to match when they are put together.

- John C.

  #10  
Old 04-23-2006, 03:37 PM
smkied smkied is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnCrowley
Are your pages mostly static pages with limited mysql/dynamic content? If so, that system is more than enough for that level of hits. Even with moderate dynamic usage, you should be fine. The SCSI drives will speed up I/O, and 1 GB of RAM is usually enough. The processor with 1MB L2 cache should be more than enough as well.

We have some busy sites on P4 2.0s with 512 MB of RAM and they are flying with 1 million hits a day. It really depends on how well your dynamic portion is coded, and how heavy your MySQL queries will be.

Rackspace is one of the best managed server providers around. They are more expensive, but their network and support team are tough to match when they are put together.

- John C.
Thanks for your response.

The site is very much run off of a database. It's a real estate site (for sale by owner) so when the user hits a city, it pulls all of the information about all of the listings in that city off of a database, so roughly 700 - 1000 listings. Usually only 25 listings are shown per page, but they do have the option to show all listings at once. While there are a lot of static pages, a big majority of the site is run off of the database. The database is only about 15MB in size.

What do you think?

P.S. In peak periods, we sometimes get as much as 200,000 hits per hour.

  #11  
Old 04-23-2006, 04:01 PM
reiteration reiteration is offline
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You need a *bigger* server/setup.



John

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  #12  
Old 04-23-2006, 04:04 PM
smkied smkied is offline
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Thanks again for your response.

How would the following solution work:

AMD Opteron (2Ghz or so)
1GB DDR
2 x 73GB SCSI Mirror

When I talk about hits, I don't mean unique visitors, I mean the same visitors hitting different sections of the site. I used to get confused by hits vs. vistors, so just clarifying.

So back to Rackspace. You will agree then, that they most certainly had given me a lower server specification just to get me to sign up?

  #13  
Old 04-23-2006, 04:28 PM
reiteration reiteration is offline
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My personal response is yes they are selling you a setup that is not sufficient for your needs.

200,000 hits in an hour works out at over 50 per second, even if you get all 50 delivered to the clients within the second (not very likley) apache is gonna build up too many processes. Apache is limited to 256 connections (hard limit - you can increase this with a recompile but I would only recommend this with fully static sites) and if your going to try and use 256 apache processes on a single cpu with 1GB ram good luck, because you'll need it.

Again my personal opinion is you need to be looking a a load-balanced solution for 200,000 hits an hour.

Also remember you'll be looking to grow perhapd to over 500,000 hits in an hour and you'll need a setup that will cope with this.

Very few hosts realise how to cope sufficiently with 500k hits in an hour.


John

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  #14  
Old 04-23-2006, 04:36 PM
JohnCrowley JohnCrowley is offline
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Rackspace quotes machines based on what they think will work for your situation. They are also open to negotiation on price/setup, so you can work with them.

I do not think you need a mega server for your site. Here is an example of a site we host that is fully dynamic.

Averaging about 40 queries per second using php and mysql, they often get 1 - 1.5 million hits (total number of files accessed) per day. They are on a P4 1.9 GHz with 768 MB of RAM and a 7200 RPM IDE drive. They have used this hardware for years, and their site holds up even under extremely focused traffic over short periods of time.

Talk with Rackspace, express your concerns, but I think you'll be fine with that hardware unless your apps are poorly coded. Maybe get Rackspace to keep the price the same but give you 2 GB RAM and little higher processor, but you may not need it.

- John C.

  #15  
Old 04-23-2006, 04:39 PM
JohnCrowley JohnCrowley is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reiteration
200,000 hits in an hour works out at over 50 per second, even if you get all 50 delivered to the clients within the second (not very likley) apache is gonna build up too many processes. Apache is limited to 256 connections (hard limit - you can increase this with a recompile but I would only recommend this with fully static sites) and if your going to try and use 256 apache processes on a single cpu with 1GB ram good luck, because you'll need it.
If they really sustain 200,000 page loads per hour, then yes, they'll need a clustered approach of db and web server being separate. However, if it is 200,000 total hits per hour (including images, etc...) and only for very short periods of time, a properly tuned Apache and MySQL server can handle it. More RAM is always good, but going over the top with clusters and Quad CPU's to start with is probably not necessary.

- John C.

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