Site/App Performance

In Web Hosting as in Auto Racing, Top Speeds Mean Nothing

There’s an interesting parallel between the way people buy web hosting and the way they buy sports cars. Frequently, the sports car purchaser who doesn’t actually compete in races will buy their vehicle based on theoretical maximum performance capability, examining numbers like top speed, maximum horsepower and so forth to see how fast their dream car might theoretically go.

Of course, people who actually race for a living understand a critically important maxim: top speeds don’t win races, high average speeds do. That means it’s just as important to be able to speed around accidents and slow traffic as it is to power down the straightaways as fast as possible.

It’s the same with hosting. The size of a CPU, the amount of RAM, the network uplink speed — these are all important metrics, but everybody’s working with similar engines these days. You can get your specs and never see reliable performance at other host because your server still can’t swerve around the accidents and slower traffic without getting bogged down. Why? Because of something called IOPS.

IOPS (or Input Output operations Per Second) is the measure of how many operations your drive array can process per second. The more IOPS you have access to, the more data can move to and from your server in a given time. And in high-traffic situations, it’s all about how fast you can move data. Overall, SAS drives have more IOPS than SATA drives, and SSD beats out both. RAID arrays can increase available IOPS over single drives, and SANs can be a true force multiplier for IOPS availability.

But here’s the dirty little secret of IOPS. IOPS is the last shared resource in the hosting industry. It’s the one server spec most hosts have not figured out how to carve up and apportion on a per-customer basis. What does this mean? It means that when you need it most, when you need to maintain your average speed to your site visitors despite heavy traffic, that’s when your IOPS is most likely to fail. If another VPS on your host node — or another server instance in your cloud — is using more than its fair share of IOPS and eating into yours, there’s nothing you — or your hosting company — can do to stop it.

That is, until now.

ServInt’s new SolidFire product — among many other specific advantages — allows us to guarantee that you will always get all the IOPS you’re entitled to. By creating an all-SSD SAN powered by SolidFire, we’re able to carve out a specific dedicated amount of IOPS for each customer. You always get what you pay for, and it’s always yours whether you’re using it or not.

The next time your site or apps slow down and you think to yourself that this can’t be happening because you know your server can hit 150 mph on the straightaway, ask yourself how many IOPS you have, and whether someone else in your cloud can just steal them away leaving you hobbling into the pits. If you’re on our SolidFire platform, you won’t ever have that problem.

Photo by NMRA Motoring and Services

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  1. Server performance is not a 10-second drag race, it's 24 Hours of Le Mans. Do you have the hardware for that?
  2. If another server in your cloud is killing your speed by hogging #IOPS, there’s finally something a way to stop it.
  3. "In web hosting as in auto racing, top speeds Mean nothing. It's all about high average speeds."
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