April 27th  2022 - Hosting

How to size an IT platform ?

What is an IT platform ?

By « hosting platform » we mean all the elements that allow an application to function. In the case of a web site, for example, this includes :

By « hosting platform » we mean all the elements that allow an application to function. In the case of a web site, for example, this includes :

  • web services (Apache, PHP, etc)
  • databases (MariaDB, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc)
  • storage media (SSD, HDD, etc.)
  • physical or virtual servers
  • the network

What are the different types of platforms ?

We can gather all the components on a single server, virtual or physical. This is called a « monolithic » platform. We can also distribute these components among several virtual or physical servers. It is then a « distributed » platform.
The differences between these two types of platforms mainly concern the distribution of resources.

We can gather all the components on a single server, virtual or physical. This is called a « monolithic » platform. We can also distribute these components among several virtual or physical servers. It is then a « distributed » platform.
The differences between these two types of platforms mainly concern the distribution of resources.

Monolithic

Monolithic explanatory diagram

On a monolithic platform, all services share a given amount of resources. It is possible to allow the PHP service to use 8G of RAM, and the MariaDB service to use 4G of RAM, even though the server hosting them only has 10G of RAM at its disposal: most of the time, these two services will not use the maximum allowed.
On the other hand, if they both come to ask for the totality of what they have been promised, we will reach a saturation point, and the system will have to choose to whom it allocates its resources. This can lead to breakdowns, sometimes brutal.

This type of platform is correct for hosting one or more small or medium size websites. Hervé Cuisine for example, famous cooking blogger has been hosting his site with Aqua Ray for several years now, and benefits from a monolithic platform.

On a monolithic platform, all services share a given amount of resources. It is possible to allow the PHP service to use 8G of RAM, and the MariaDB service to use 4G of RAM, even though the server hosting them only has 10G of RAM at its disposal: most of the time, these two services will not use the maximum allowed.
On the other hand, if they both come to ask for the totality of what they have been promised, we will reach a saturation point, and the system will have to choose to whom it allocates its resources. This can lead to breakdowns, sometimes brutal.

This type of platform is correct for hosting one or more small or medium size websites. Hervé Cuisine for example, famous cooking blogger has been hosting his site with Aqua Ray for several years now, and benefits from a monolithic platform.

Distributed

Monolithic explanatory distributed

If you want to ensure a strong partitioning between the different components of a platform, you will opt for a distributed platform. The degree of separation is of course configurable. In the example shown here, we have chosen to have a virtual machine for :

If you want to ensure a strong partitioning between the different components of a platform, you will opt for a distributed platform. The degree of separation is of course configurable. In the example shown here, we have chosen to have a virtual machine for :

  • the public endpoint of the platform: this is the entry and exit point, with which visitors communicate
  • web services (Apache, PHP);
  • the database (MariaDB);
  • shared file storage (NFS)

The resources allocated to each of these virtual machines are entirely reserved for them. It is thus not possible for PHP to encroach on the RAM that MariaDB has the right to use. On the other hand, if MariaDB needs more RAM at a given time, and PHP does not use all that it is allowed, it will not be possible to temporarily transfer RAM to MariaDB. There is no more resource sharing.
This type of platform offers many other advantages: it is clearly easier to increase the gross resources of the platform, it is then enough to add machines hosting the service which one wishes to extend, and to integrate them in the corresponding group.
Each machine has its own firewall. We can therefore prohibit any communication that is not strictly necessary, security is improved.
Each machine being independent, we can maintain it separately. If you are stuck on an old version of the system because you need PHP 7.4, you can still update MariaDB to 10.7!
Adding redundancy is simple. It's like adding resources, you add a machine for each service, and after a bit of configuration, the platform can accept the shutdown of a part of its components.
This type of platform is particularly suitable for hosting an e-commerce site with high stability requirements.
The brand La Maison Convertible, chose Aqua Ray for the hosting of its site and this type of platform was the most adapted.

The resources allocated to each of these virtual machines are entirely reserved for them. It is thus not possible for PHP to encroach on the RAM that MariaDB has the right to use. On the other hand, if MariaDB needs more RAM at a given time, and PHP does not use all that it is allowed, it will not be possible to temporarily transfer RAM to MariaDB. There is no more resource sharing.
This type of platform offers many other advantages: it is clearly easier to increase the gross resources of the platform, it is then enough to add machines hosting the service which one wishes to extend, and to integrate them in the corresponding group.
Each machine has its own firewall. We can therefore prohibit any communication that is not strictly necessary, security is improved.
Each machine being independent, we can maintain it separately. If you are stuck on an old version of the system because you need PHP 7.4, you can still update MariaDB to 10.7!
Adding redundancy is simple. It's like adding resources, you add a machine for each service, and after a bit of configuration, the platform can accept the shutdown of a part of its components.
This type of platform is particularly suitable for hosting an e-commerce site with high stability requirements.
The brand La Maison Convertible, chose Aqua Ray for the hosting of its site and this type of platform was the most adapted.

How to size an IT platform?

A platform can generally be summarized in 3 resources :

A platform can generally be summarized in 3 resources :

  • The CPU : it is the computing power. It is represented in « number of threads », i.e. the number of operations that can be executed at the same time by a machine. The frequency of these « moments » is expressed in GHz. 1GHz represents 1 billion operations per second.
  • RAM: this is temporary memory, which contains the data being processed by a program. The more RAM it has, the faster the platform will be able to respond to requests that come in.
  • Storage: this is long-term memory, where we store application files, database contents, configurations, etc.

The sizing is mainly a function of the estimated platform load and the available budget. We deploy all our platforms on machines similar to those presented in our Business Box range, and in particular the BBDruss and the BBKarnak. We can of course also use virtual machines in Public Cloud.

We start by deciding on the number of CPU threads desired, which guides the choice of the machine. If you have less than 8 threads, we advise you to stay on a virtual machine. For example, for a high traffic web site like La Maison Convertible, we recommend using a BBDruss with distributed distribution. To have redundancy, we would add a second BBDruss with the same distributed services. On the other hand, to host less traffic, a BBKarnak type server will do. A big virtual machine is enough to host Chatelet a theater in Paris.

Then comes the RAM. This usually depends on the number of expected visits, and the size of the database. These elements can be estimated from the data of the previous hosting, or from the information available to the developer. Beyond 15G of RAM, we advise to go for a physical machine, even if it means virtualizing it for more flexibility.

Finally, the storage. Here, as soon as we need more than 300G, a physical machine is necessary. The choice of the useful volume depends on the space occupied by the data (media, databases, etc.), as well as on the evolution perspectives envisaged for the future of the site. A commercial site will probably need more storage space than a community site, for example, but sometimes less than a very active travel photo blog.

The sizing is mainly a function of the estimated platform load and the available budget. We deploy all our platforms on machines similar to those presented in our Business Box range, and in particular the BBDruss and the BBKarnak. We can of course also use virtual machines in Public Cloud.

We start by deciding on the number of CPU threads desired, which guides the choice of the machine. If you have less than 8 threads, we advise you to stay on a virtual machine. For example, for a high traffic web site like La Maison Convertible, we recommend using a BBDruss with distributed distribution. To have redundancy, we would add a second BBDruss with the same distributed services. On the other hand, to host less traffic, a BBKarnak type server will do. A big virtual machine is enough to host Chatelet a theater in Paris.

Then comes the RAM. This usually depends on the number of expected visits, and the size of the database. These elements can be estimated from the data of the previous hosting, or from the information available to the developer. Beyond 15G of RAM, we advise to go for a physical machine, even if it means virtualizing it for more flexibility.

Finally, the storage. Here, as soon as we need more than 300G, a physical machine is necessary. The choice of the useful volume depends on the space occupied by the data (media, databases, etc.), as well as on the evolution perspectives envisaged for the future of the site. A commercial site will probably need more storage space than a community site, for example, but sometimes less than a very active travel photo blog.

The dimensioning of a computer platform requires a complete analysis of the need. Thanks to our technicians, it is possible to configure a machine that is adequate to your activity, guaranteeing efficiency and availability. Do not hesitate to contact our sales team, who will be happy to discuss with you to evaluate the platform you need.

The dimensioning of a computer platform requires a complete analysis of the need. Thanks to our technicians, it is possible to configure a machine that is adequate to your activity, guaranteeing efficiency and availability. Do not hesitate to contact our sales team, who will be happy to discuss with you to evaluate the platform you need.

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