Top Benefits of Hosting on a Multiserver Architecture

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By: Arthur Cole|

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More and more websites are switching from single- to multiserver architectures for their hosting needs. In addition to providing greater resilience against spikes in traffic, distributing a host domain across more than one physical machine offers a host of other benefits — including lower costs.

However, this is only true if the system is architectured properly, with granular management and carefully orchestrated workflow and data migration across physical-, virtual-, application- and even data-layer infrastructure.

Benefits of a Multiserver Approach

Single-server hosting was the norm in the early days of the internet, but even then, its limitations were clear — namely, if the server goes down, so does your site. Today, multiple servers are a must for critical applications such as e-commerce and are even taking on enterprise-facing services such as batch processing and data analytics. According to Tibus, the increasing importance of near-flawless online execution and the rising sophistication of hosting technologies are quickly diminishing the connectivity and orchestration issues that once plagued distributed architectures.

For instance, recent advances in load balancing are enabling real-time traffic flow automation across multiple servers, according to Cloud 66. This not only maintains performance levels under heavy workloads but can also provide faster failover when servers or other crucial resources go dark. And, contrary to common perception, a multiserver architecture often proves to be less costly than a single server — particularly in high-traffic environments — because larger servers are more expensive to deploy and maintain.

This approach is also effective at making normal operations faster and more productive. Again, with a proper load balancer acting as a traffic cop, requests can be fulfilled much more quickly and backend data collection can take place without diminishing the user experience.

For e-commerce sites, in particular, this can be the difference between a one-time purchase and a repeat customer, or a profitable or unprofitable quarter. It should also be noted that even if a single server has the processing capacity to handle dynamic traffic flows, it is still limited by the number of connections the TCP/IP protocol can maintain.

The Importance of Backup

This isn’t to say multiserver architectures are foolproof. Fools, after all, are too ingenious. For one thing, there is the possibility that the host provider could compromise its own infrastructure. Naked Security reports that routine cleanups have been known to wipe servers clean, forcing clients to scramble to rebuild their websites. This is why it’s a good idea to maintain a continuous backup on-site, even if the host charges extra for it. And because the load balancer now represents the single point of failure in the architecture, it’s good practice to have a backup standing by just in case.

At the same time, multiserver architectures are starting to evolve into multisite presences, with some domains literally stretching around the world. This is leading to the development of the Content Delivery Network (CDN), which is a lot like a load balancer on steroids. By establishing a high-speed, orchestrated ecosystem across geographically distributed servers, CDNs push connectivity closer to the end user for improved response times while simultaneously allowing for greater diversity across markets to the benefit of sales, marketing, product distribution and a host of other processes.

As The Next Web recently noted, decreasing the page-load time from three seconds to one second cuts the bounce rate by half. And with mobile traffic now hitting websites in a big way, anything that can improve site performance is welcome.

The days when the company website was merely an adjunct to marketing and public relations are long gone. These days, the website often is the company. It processes orders, maintains relationships, supports collaboration and other processes and generally acts as the conduit for much of the customer-facing and back-office workflow.

It’s simply too important not to warrant top-flight infrastructure, architecture and development support, and this starts with building a high degree of flexibility on the host.

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About The Author

Arthur Cole

Freelance Writer

With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

Articles by Arthur Cole
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