28 March 2006

HEAnet thrash Sun Niagara T2000

Good to see HEAnet doing some serious machine thrashing: /~colmmacc/ サ Blog Archive サ Niagara vs ftp.heanet.ie Showdown. Keep up the good work Cormac.

ftp.heanet.ie is one of the single busiest webservers in the world. We handle many millions of downloads per day, but unusually for a high-demand site, we do it all from one machine. This is usually a bad idea, but as a mirror server has built-in resilience (in the form of a world-wide network of mirrors), and as we can't afford 20 terabytes of ultra-scalable, network-available storage, we use a single machine with directly attached storage, and rely on our ability to tune the machine to within an inch of its life. We regularly serve up to 1.2 Gigabit/sec, and have handled over 27,000 concurrent downloads. There's some more detail on our previous set-up (which is mostly identical to the current one) in my paper on Apache Scalability.
Over four years ago, when I started in HEAnet, Solaris and Sparc hardware represented about 50% of our Unix systems. Now it represents less than 2%, so I've had less and less opportunity to tinker on Solaris in the last few years, but have kept up with it enough to know how to use dtrace, and to still understand the Solaris fundamentals. At ApacheCon US 2005, Covalent had a T2000 along as a demonstration machine. I got to play with it a little and was very impressed. Unlike prior experiences, this machine felt very responsive. There was no waiting for the output of commands, no listening to the whirring of hard disks, and the benchmarking numbers it was producing weren't bad either.
When Jonathan Schwartz announced the "Free Niagara box for 60 Days" deal, we jumped at the opportunity to test one of the these boxes - which may be ideal for our needs. It took a while for Sun to iron out some administrative problems, but they certainly held up their end of the deal, and a nice shiny T2000 arrived a little over a week ago, for us to try out.
Posted by mofoghlu at March 28, 2006 1:09 AM
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