By Matthew Swanson, Chief Software Architect, Commissions Inc.
At my company, Commissions Inc., we make software that connects top-tier real estate brokers and agents to sellers and buyers. If our customers aren’t getting leads, we’re not performing — and neither are they. Our customers spend a great deal of time on our site and we need everything to be lightning fast.
We collect gigabytes of log files on an hourly basis – data that we need to crunch and ship for analysis. For us, performance is all about low-latency and high-volume, and we need an infrastructure that enables that.
About a year ago, we were running our SQL server in the public cloud, but we couldn’t get enough IOPS and RAM to satisfy our performance requirements. So we moved it onto dedicated gear. At the time, we didn’t think the cloud could meet our performance needs.
Then, just recently, we beta tested Rackspace Performance Cloud Servers to see how they handled some of our weblog parsing.
The install was quick and fairly easy. We used some Linux commands and picked our server flavor. We went with a 120 gigabyte flavor with a 40 gigabyte SSD disk.
The jump in performance was noticeable almost instantly.
To give you an idea of how fast these servers can perform, consider this: we had a full SQL Server Enterprise Edition installed and running within 17 minutes. From there, we took 6.23 gigs of log files, and in less than 15 minutes, I was able to parse through them and put more than 1.5 million rows in our SQL Server data warehouse database. That’s incredible speed.
In our old cloud, we also ran into limitations with the number of transactions per second that our SQL Server could perform. We’d cap out at 300 to 400 transactions per second. With Performance Cloud Servers, we saw spikes of as many as 3,500–plus transactions per second and, for a full 15-minute window, we consistently saw about 2,500 transactions per second on our SQL Server. That’s an improvement of six to eight times what we saw on our previous cloud.
And as far as CPU goes, we leveraged all eight cores and they all hovered at 60 percent to 80 percent utilization, while I spun up more than 100 threads that were processing the weblogs that I had pushed into our custom web log processing software.
At Commissions Inc., we measure performance in different ways: requests per second, CPU usage and the physical ability to read/write to disk. With these new, faster servers, we saw major improvements across all of these fronts compared to our previous cloud infrastructure.
Performance Cloud Servers give small, medium and large businesses the ability to operate faster. The SSD option is something I think all businesses can leverage at the web tier, the middle tier and at the database level. If these Performance Servers had been available a year ago, we certainly would have considered it as an option over our current dedicated environment. Now, we’ll take a serious look at putting our data warehouse in Performance Cloud Servers in the future.
Matthew Swanson is Chief Software Architect for Commissions Inc., a Rackspace customer that provides an integrated buyer lead generation and management solutions for top-producing real estate brokers and agents. Commissions Inc. participated in the beta testing of the new Rackspace Performance Cloud Servers.