Server Scalability With Future Growth

The aim of this article is to help explain one of the greatly over-looked aspects of any companies web presence; their server.

Big companies spend massive amounts of their IT budget on their network infrastructure, with the modern day business now heavily relying on IT to perform their day-to-day roles. They play a key part to the success of the business and without them they would simply not operate. This helps to create large teams of dedicated professionals whose sole responsibility is maintaining them.

From a smaller company perspective, they simply don’t have the money or time to spend on this and it is very often over looked about how important they are. After all you only really see the end result – the website.

Things to think about

What is often not realised is that when you get that shiny new website or collection of email addresses, with it’s bells and whistles, a good amount of time and investment has gone into it’s hosting/hardware requirements. Some of the things that will have been taken into account include;

  • the target audience
  • volumes of traffic
  • geographical location
  • SEO
  • platform requirements
  • coding language
  • it’s end role within company (Emails, Websites, Intranet and/or Asset management)

Planning the server requirements needs to take into account what the server is going to be used for initially. Future company developments also need to be considered as with all good planning, things change. Any website should adapt and grow with a company, being able to accomodate the company requirements as required but clearly so should the server/platform providing it.

These considerations should be taken into consideration with every new direction the website takes. The same question needs to be asked “Will these changes affect my server requirements and if so how?” because any new architecture changes need to be implemented first. After all, what use is an amazing new piece of software, if on launch day the server cannot cope and it results in no one being able to see or use it?

Available options

Although actual configurations are a little out of the scope of this article and can differ greatly from company to company depending on there usage here is a potential guide as to how a server could scale to incorporate a growing company.

Shared Hosting: This is ideal for small websites, it’s cheap and can handle brochure-style websites to small CMS systems. An initial package for companies starting out allowing for very little customisation and a lot of restrictions with potential security issues.

Virtual Dedicated: This moves away from the shared hosting but not going to fully dedicated. It gives the appearance of dedicated with moderate control over server configurations but is ultimately one server split up into ring fenced areas with server resources shared. This server type is useful for higher traffic websites.

Fully Dedicated: This can be either managed or co-located giving you the fullest control over your server with the option of physically owning the hardware. This is the most expensive and depending on the host can require the most amount of work and knowledge from yourself to maintain, however has the greatest scope for expansion.

Following on from the fully dedicated option, the server can be scaled out to fit your needs thus becoming the stepping stone with expansion upgrades like increased RAM, multiple core processors, an abundance of hard drives and finally multiple servers.