Hosting solutions for seasonal traffic

Having some serious performance issues with our current server setup and considering various options. But the main problem in determining how to get the best setup for our site is that our traffic is seasonal. 9 months out of the year, our current setup handles the traffic with no problems at all, the remaining 3 months is a daily struggle. We’ve approached it in various ways over the last years, including some upgrades, splitting php and mysql across or two servers, etc, but we haven’t found a way to stay stable for the high-traffic period.

Any suggestions for a good approach to dealing with such an issue, beyond paying for too much capacity (way too much capacity) 9 months out of the year to manage those three months?

Wouldn’t it be smarter to move to a VPS type setup where you can increase your CPU/RAM over those 3 months and turn it back down over the other 9 months? This is exactly how Azure works.

I believe Digital Ocean supports this too, the term they use is Flexible Resize.

Is a VPS setup really enough in a high-traffic situation? I realise this is of course very dependant on what “high” means, so this is our current situation:

1 server dedicated to MySQL, 16GB ram, Xeon E3-1270. This one has a load of 1-2 at peak, and works well, so we’re happy with it.

1 server providing Varnish and PHP services for a wiki, a forum, and a CMS. 8GB RAM, also a Xeon E3-1270. At peak times we clear 20-25TB of data per month, and that’s with Cloudflare’s CDN saying it provides 20-25 TB. This server is the one struggling. The wiki works swimmingly if the forum is shut down, but it’s not happy with the forum running. This is at peak times; the rest of the year it works fine.

Well do you know if it is CPU or RAM that you are running into? Because if it is, then placing that one on a VPS where you can expand the CPU/RAM at will would do you wonders.

But if you are running into a DISK WRITE block, then all the CPU in the world won’t solve your issue. And instead you should invest in upgrading to a SSD or something that can handle DISK WRITES better.

Your other options would be to create a second application server and load balance it. So you have two application servers hitting the same MySQL database server. It seems your contention is not database call related, but your application server may need to tweaking.

Lastly, you could always move your forum to its own server full time too, in hopes that having its own dedicated server makes it not run into any issues with CPU/RAM usage with the other applications.

Right now, your biggest concern should be figuring out where the contention lies. A lot of that is going to be looking at system resources during those peaks or by installing a monitoring tool that can alert you at high CPU usage, high RAM usage so you can track it and compare it to your access logs to see what sort of activity you had during those alerts.

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Its primarily a CPU issue, the forum is very resource intensive. I’ve looked a bit at a VPS solution, but it seems we’d end up with very high bandwidth costs then and not just during the peak months. A separate server for the forum is something we’re looking at now, though unless we can get it for a limited time, it will be quite wasteful for 3/4 of the year. Of course, we’re not entirely certain either that a separate server for the forum would do the trick.

Well can you upgrade your existing server’s CPU? Or maybe look at a different forum software that isn’t so CPU intensive. I mean if that is your hold up, you really have to address it, the only options are 1) upgrade CPU, 2) move application to another server so it has 100% of the CPU to its availability, 3) change software or ask whoever makes the software to help performance by coding it a bit better.

One of those three should do the trick. I also wouldn’t call moving it to a dedicated machine a waste for 3/4th of the year. As surely that server will get use and surely the existing server will continue to get use. Consider it a growth strategy and you are investing so all systems can handle future growth.

same issue in my site (site url not needed)
my hosting is : blue host

Then please read the suggestions above and feel free to start a topic to discuss them in more detail if need be.

If storage is not the main concern, then you might want to explore splitting the forum out to a separate VPS while the current 2 servers are downsized to VPSes as well. You can choose to only upgrade all 3 VPSes during the seasonal period to deal with the additional load.

If budget is not an issue then, Go for dedicated hosting plan. You will have enough dedicated resources and full root access. You can limit the traffic and manage the hosting service reslurces through control panel.