New Server Advice

I am about to start using Cloud Servers for a large forum, and was wondering what kind of specs I should use.

Currently we with ThePlanet, on a couple servers with 3.2 GHz Xeons and 4GB of ram each. Apache is hosted on one, and MySQL on the other. This costs about $718 per month.

It is running VBulletin, with about 4 million views per month.

Only the Apache server seems to ever get hit by a heavy load, which makes me wonder if I could get away with running everything on a single 4GB instance on Rackspace?

Or should I do what I’m doing now, go with a pair of 4GB servers (or maybe a 4GB and a 2GB) or do you think because of the way CPU’s scale on Cloud servers, that I could just go with a single 4GB or 8GB?

With bandwidth fees, our bill would be around $371 with a single 4GB, or $546 with an 8GB, or $457 with a 4GB and 2GB dedicated for MySQL. So in any case, we are saving money. I’d like to save as much as I can though :slight_smile:

“The cloud” is nothing but a bunch of VPS instances on physical servers. They perform worse than having your own servers, not better (virtualization is overhead, and now you’re sharing resources with neighbors on the same physical machine). You move to the cloud for flexibility, it doesn’t solve any scaling issues for you automatically.

If you move to instances with less guaranteed CPU and RAM, it won’t help the load, it’ll be worse. There is no “CPU scaling”, that’s not how it works. When Rackspace says “highly scalable”, they mean “you can start more VPS’s whenever you need them” – you have to program this horizontal scalability across multiple servers, your individual instance does not get faster.

What you need, most likely, is just more RAM in your server. Or another commodity server to load balance on the front end. Depends if you’re CPU bound on web servers or IO bound on the database.

You’ll spend more money moving to Rackspace. Even with Amazon EC2, completely unmanaged cloud services with the best economies of scale in the business, you’re going to spend more than if you rented your own servers for the equivalent resources. And it doesn’t fix your load issue.

8GB Xeon servers are $199/mo at Softlayer, including bandwidth.
8GB cloud servers @ Rackspace are $350/mo, before bandwidth fees.

Don’t consider stepping down from a 4GB server to a 2GB server for that database unless the entire database is less than 2GB in size. Memory is the most important resource to a database server.

Even if performance is similar, I still think it’s worth moving from $700+ per month for a web + DB server, to $400-500 for a web + DB server using Cloud. Does that not sound reasonable?

I just wanted to make it clear that the issue is price, not performance. We have done quite a bit of optimization to get Apache running well, and it is fine. but we’re not happy with the price, and we also seem to be having hardware issues that ThePlanet is unable/unwilling to resolve.

From what you’ve described you could just do with more cores and more ram on the frontend.

So you could get 3 decent spec servers from server4you and double your frontend capacity all while saving ~$350…

Anyway, it’d be nice to get to the bottom of your performance issues some time.


I’ve had nothing but bad service with clients using Rackspace, there are many other providers that 1) aren’t stupidly overpriced, 2) have better support, 3) have a hands-on/pro-active management approach…

Thanks for the advice guys. I think I will go with a Lynnfield server at Softlayer for Apache, and a cheaper Opteron for MySQL. With the “double RAM” sale, it’s a great deal.

And again, we don’t have any performance issues. the issue is that it is costing us over $700 a month when it can realistically be done for much less. Whether that’s on Rackspace Cloud or a dedicated server that is having a great sale is irrelevant to me. With your advice, it looks like we will be able to save at least $300 a month.

Thanks again