April 21, 2010

How Does a Multi-server Configuration Work?


Hostway Team

By Buffy Cranford

Savvy computer users recognize the value of backing up their priceless files on a spare hard drive or rewritable disks. When hearty files begin chewing up hard drive space and impacting PC performance, computer users often examine their Central Processing Unit (CPU) performance and take appropriate measures for freeing up disk space. In a Web-hosting environment, multiple-server configurations are preferred for similar reasons. By utilizing multiple servers, a Web-hosting company creates a versatile environment by allocating resources among two or more servers. A multiple-server configuration results in quicker Web site load times during peak periods and drastically reduces downtime for a Web site if one server in the configuration fails.

What Is a Server?

Servers include the basic features of a desktop PC (processor, hard drive, RAM), yet also feature numerous processors, hard drives and multiple gigabytes of RAM to handle behind-the-scenes tasks for running supporting services. Whereas a desktop PC typically features a single-core CPU with a small cache for storing frequently requested data, a server has multiple-core CPUs containing two or more processors and a large cache. For example, if your company constantly uses a database for searching client contact information, the server delivers this information at a faster rate than a desktop PC because of the larger cache constantly recalling the data.

Servers are managed through a network configuration and feature multiple hard drives that appear as a single drive, such as (G:). On a server, this array of hard drives is known as Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks (RAID). Using this configuration, if data is stored on one drive, another hard drive in the RAID configuration copies the data. If one of the hard drives in the RAID would fail, another drive has a full version of the data.

To further protect against normal operating failures, servers often feature two or more power supplies. Similar to a home generator, if a power outage or surge occurs, the server has a backup power supply that eliminates downtime.

How Does a Multi-Server Configuration Enhance Hosting?

When you combine an array of hearty servers in a multi-server configuration, the servers handle multiple roles previously assigned to one server. Although one server may maneuver all incoming data as it is pushed from an external server or individual CPU, in a multi-server configuration, another server loaded with an application such as SQL Server Integration Studio performs automated data transformations. As data arrives to the multi-server configuration, yet another pair of servers may house the data, such as files and images. This configuration often includes a host server that houses the basic software requirements such as antivirus software and backup software.

In a Web-hosting environment using a multi-server configuration, each server is responsible for multiple tasks, whether it’s backup, data integration, failure detection or monitoring IP addresses. As data is synchronized from your company, these dedicated servers fulfill their roles and deliver a hassle-free environment.

A Multi-Server Configuration, with its compilation of versatile, task-specific servers, offers peak performance with quick data handling and reduced downtime.

About the Author

Buffy Cranford has over 20 years of experience in writing and publishing. Her writing background includes newspaper journalism, and reviewing and researching computer software and hardware for Smart Computing and PC Today magazines. She has worked with established companies such as Dell, IBM and Acer.

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