There are many commercials about doubling the speed of your PC, but what about the speed of your business server?
The good news is that you can spend thousands of dollars maxing out your network connection, processors, memory, and hard drives and in most cases you will see an increase in speed. The better news is that you can achieve the same results with a much smaller investment by understanding what matters most to your server. Depending on the function of your server, the “what matters” can change dramatically.
We’ll first start with database servers. These are the machines that handle all the data used by most business applications and websites. You will typically hear words like MySQL, SQL Server, Access, and Oracle associated with these servers. Because the primary function of this server is handling data, you want to focus on the speed of data transfers which mean drives and memory. Your drives are the most important because they are involved in both reading and writing. Each hard drive is made of disks which need to spin to the correct position in order to read and write data, so you want to find drives that spin the fastest. At this time, the fastest drives spin at 15,000 rotations per minute. Recently coming onto the enterprise market are solid state drives that require no spinning and instantly retrieve/store data. These drives have the potential to take over the market, but most companies are waiting before implementing them in mission critical database servers because the technology is relatively new to the business world. Because of the time it takes for hard drives to spin and find data, servers will store most often used data inside memory which is roughly 500 times faster at reading data than typical drives. The more memory you add to your server, the more data can be stored there.
The web server is another machine that must operate at optimal speeds because a company’s website is often the first impression given to new customers. Apache, PHP, HTML, and ASP are words often associated with web servers. The first way to quickly improve the speed of your web server is to offload tasks to other servers. Pictures, videos, and any other media can be hosted over the cloud through a content delivery network. Databases and intranet web sites can be moved to a separate machine. Next you need to figure out what type of pages your website serves. If most of the pages are static (do not require a database for content), then your web server is handling data just like a database and you can optimize it using the techniques above. If most of the pages are dynamic (require database for content), then your server needs to coordinate content from several locations and requires a faster processor.
By doing some research and understanding the resource needs of your server, you can optimize your server and your budget.