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Going Viral

Do you want to hear a secret? It is not often that well engineered solutions have their hardware stressed. There are however also situations where, no matter how well you have planned your traffic goes through the roof. At which point people start running around with their hands in the air trying to find solutions to keep everything up and happy. This used to be known as “Slashdotting” – but now with so much more in terms of social networking and sharing there are now many flavours of success related downfall.

Shortly after Christmas – we returned to the office to find a rather busy host.

First up you start looking into whether it was legitimate traffic, or an attack. Sure enough this seemed legit.

….but the figures kept on climbing.

Sure enough a client’s site had appeared on social media. LADbible alone had shared the link over nine million times.

I have often wondered what legitimate traffic  in that kind of volume looks like. Well – I was now finding out.

A single site was delivering over 180Mbit of traffic at peak points.

So what did this look like?

Then you realise…         THIS IS A VIRTUAL MACHINE.

In an instant your preconceptions about the virtual machine and the dedicated server are shattered.

Sure the specific VM was showing signs of strain – however here we have a 4 core vCPU / 4G RAM / 40GB SSD storage / Plesk install running nginx for static content, and apache2 for dynamic delivering 180MBit without effecting other hosts on that platform. It transpired that a fair amount of the content was already being delivered from CDN’s – and content being delivered was already pretty optimal – none the less – I think you will agree this more than demonstrates the power of the modern VM.

For the duration of the popularity – we were able to scale services up to meet demand and make life easier. Then, once demand had died back – we were able to return things back to normal.

10GigE interconnects, distributed solid state filesystem, DDR4 RAM, modern multicore CPU.  If you are looking for smaller, rapid deployments, where you are moving to ‘cloud’ to increase flexibility* then take a fresh look at what virtual machines can deliver… they are no longer the stepping stone to real hardware.

Recent articles on this platform:

– VM performance – Phoronix test suite;

– VM or Dedicated – progression and the modern VM.


* NB.: As much as it pains me to bring this up – this is not a magic bullet – more is the shame. VM’s suit smaller, stand alone agile deployments. Problems with code, architecture, design, and deployment may be eased by faster hardware – but will not fix them.

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