Guest blog by Michael Kendall, Group Manager, Options and Intelligent Infrastructure Marketing, ISS
People abhor slow web sites. Everybody has horror stories to share. Answers.com, the top Q&A site that serves as tens of millions of fact-seekers per day, understands that performance issues are a make or break proposition. In fact, Answers.com keeps close track of the correlation between site visits, popularity, and performance and advised that for every tenth of a second slower that pages load, there’s a measurable reduction in the amount of traffic. And that impacts revenue.
No pressure or anything…
For Answers.com, that means having a flexible and scalable environment that enables them to experiment with and implement various infrastructure, performance, and efficiency ideas is crucial to their business. As part of that goal, in 2008 Answers.com moved from its sprawling one-application-per-server architecture to a virtualized model – which included an extensive evaluation of hardware manufacturers for its server infrastructure.
Answers.com chose HP BladeSystem BL460c and BL490c server blades with a C7000 Enclosure to implement their virtual environment. Why? According to Derek Balling, Answers.com data center manager, “given all the research, HP BladeSystem offered us the best bang for the buck with a high level of reliability, easy serviceability, fast deployment times, and the ability to make configuration changes quickly, easily, and remotely.” Balling and his team also wanted a lights-out operation and the HP iLO environment – with a now available mobile access application – fit their needs.
But that’s only part of the story. As the site grew, their need for performance increased.
By using HP IO Accelerators, Answers.com was able to reduce the size of each cluster dedicated to reading its databases from 20 servers to five. Balling’s team tested the HP IO Accelerators in their database server blades and did a side-by-side comparison. The difference was staggering. An HP IO Accelerator-equipped server blade was able to handle 10 times the amount of database traffic. This allowed the team to free up blade servers to be repurposed in other areas, offsetting the need to purchase new hardware.
The site ended up being 30 percent faster running on one-quarter of the database servers. Curtis Strite, director of infrastructure and operations for Answers.com, said, “That’s a massive win. We had 100 percent payback on day one.”
For more detail on Answers.com and their IT environment, take a look at the case study.
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