Offload banner creatives (OpenX) to hosted service

We currently host OpenX server on a local server for our in-house email newsletters. Problem is, when a newsletter is sent (4500-5000 recipients), the load on the server causes timeouts and other web-related tasks to crawl.

I’ve done my best to optimize Apache/PHP/MySQL and, short of purchasing a new server, have run out of hardware/software optimization options.

Just wondering what you forum users see as good options? Have you been in a similar situation and found something that works (i.e. hosting provider, or content provider?).

Thanks in advance!


Don’t laugh…

It’s G4-powered Apple Xserve with 2Gb RAM.

What is your newsletter doing that causes any load at all? Is there something in it beyond static images?

Dan, thanks for the response.

We send newsletters through services at ExactTarget and embedded in the newsletters are banner ads (3-4 per newsletter) which are served through OpenX on our local server. A typical newsletter send may have 5000 recipients and, once sent, the load on the local server spikes and all other web services crawl.

I’m thinking it may be worthwhile to offload the OpenX server to an outside host provider, freeing our in-house server from the load spikes.

I’m just wondering if there are hosting providers who specialize in this, who comes recommended and what others have experienced under similar circumstances.

Thanks again!

You can hard code the banners (you can segment your list into 3 pieces and send a different banner to each piece) so that you’re just serving a static image and not running it through the ad server. You can even throw the images up on Amazon S3 so you’re not hosting them at all.

You can get the impression counts by looking at ExactTarget’s open rate reports (I’m assuming they provide that) for each segment if you need to report that to the advertisers.

I wonder how you’re doing this at all right now. You can’t use JavaScript or iframes in HTML mails, most webmail clients strip it out.


Thanks again.

I suppose we could do that. The only issue is that we send 7-8 newsletters a week and coding the banners in the various templates takes more time. Something to consider.

I run a quad-core Opteron, 8GB RAM server that handles about 200 requests per second, and those requests involve selecting from and inserting to a database then sending an image, pretty much exactly what an ad server does.

I doubt that 200 people are opening your mail per second, nor do you need so much memory for an ad server, so you really should be able to run that with much cheaper hardware.

What are you running on?

A cheap way to test how much throughput your ad server can handle on different hardware would be to spin up a couple Amazon EC2 instances of different sizes. If you ran each for just an hour you’d spend a buck or two.

Might be a good time for an upgrade, those moto chips don’t handle server stuff too well.

On capacity/load testing, I’d check out BrowserMob. Really slick stuff . . .