Member Rara Avis
November and December, 2005, weren't quite the busiest months we've ever seen for the main site, but it sure was close.
November, for example, saw 2,389,000 million visitors, which is getting a bit close to our record of 2,423,000 set earlier in 2005. December dropped to 2,325,000 visitors, but that's only because the last week of the year, from Christmas to New Years Day, was extremely slow. During the first two weeks of December our daily averages projected out to well over three million visits. We're up almost 140 percent over the same period in 2004.
That's the good news. The bad news is that Apollo, the main site web server since July 2002, is only just barely keeping up with the demand.
By way of comparison, our other server, the twin Artemis (also on-line since 2002), is running right now with an average server load of .12 over the last fifteen minutes. Essentially, that means the forums, 100-poems.com, a bunch of subdomains on netpoets.net, and a handful of other domains, are using about 12 percent of the server's CPU. In the evenings, that'll spike some, but very rarely exceed fifty percent.
The load average on Apollo as I write these words is running 3.98, or nearly 400 percent of capacity. That's on a Friday, our second slowest day of the week. And before noon. During the evenings on Monday through Thursday, our busiest days, that server load will nearly double. Apollo only crashed once during November and December, but honestly, that's more miracle than anything else.
January started out slow, but is quickly picking up speed and will likely beat the numbers for both November and December. As we draw nearer to Valentine's Day, the Mecca for all thing poetic, traffic will only continue to climb. Sadly, poor Apollo simply isn't going to make it.
On January 6, I ordered a new web server, and have spent almost every minute of every day since trying to get it ready. I've now moved over two of our smaller, less active domains and, while the jury is still out, it looks like we finally have a solid green light. Since this server, as you'll soon see, has been designed to kick some serious butt, it has been named after the Greek god of war, brother to our other three servers, Apollo, Artemis and Athena.
Here's some numbers for comparison.
* Apollo is a Pentium III running at 1Ghz.
* Aries is a Dual Xeon (essentially 4 CPUs) running at 2.8Ghz
* Apollo has 1Gig of Ram
* Aries has 2Gig of Ram
* Apollo has one 18.2 GB SCSI hard disk
* Aries has two 73 GB SCSI hard disks
Additionally, Apollo comes with 130 GB of bandwidth (how much data we can send out to our visitors), a number we exceed even during our slowest months. Aries comes with 2,000 GB of bandwidth, though the way it's measured is different enough to make comparisons difficult until we get some history behind us. Indeed, as much as I like to compare old to new, and as powerful as Aries sounds in comparison to a three and half year old PIII web server, new computers inevitably also come with new software and huge increases in overhead. It's the difference between running Windows95 and Win2003, and the increased complexity accounts in large part for the reason it's taken me several weeks to configure the machine. I have high hopes Aries will solve all our problems, but my optimism will remain tempered until the battle is actually joined.
The next few days, I'm going to be moving a LOT of live data as a first-line test. Nan has agreed to help coordinate that move since it will involve other people here. I'm also going to move over a few smaller sites, including our recently upgraded 100-poems.com (which has been getting a lot more traffic, btw, since the redesign), again to put Aries under a bit of a load. I hope by the middle of next week, which will almost surely start our steep climb into the Valentine's Day rush, that I'll be ready to move the entire main site over to our new server. I'm cautiously optimistic we'll be ready in time.
If everything goes well, the second half of February will probably see a similar move for the forums.
Aries is going to make poor Apollo obsolete. However, Apollo and Artemis, the forum server, are twins in every sense of the word, including the contract under which they're leased. They're a package deal, and as long as the forums continue to sit on one, I have to continue to pay for both, even though Apollo will have nothing to do. I'm probably going to do exactly that for a while (if only to catch my breath), but clearly that's only a short term solution. I don't know if the forums will be moved to Aries (can even the god of war handle two busy sites?) or to a second more modern server, but a move is pretty much inevitable.
I've been able to spend very little time in the forums since 2006 reared her head and that little time is going to dwindle to less for at least the rest of January. Many of you know I had a trip out west planned for February, but that, I fear, is going to depend on the whims of a war god. My plans for this year didn't include a huge spike in traffic (we've done absolutely NOTHING to promote these sites in over a year), so I'm forced to pretty much just wing it until my projections catch up to our realities. There's going to be a lot of changes, and as we all know, change doesn't always go smoothly.
There is a bright side, though.
If Aries lives up to expectations, we're going to once again have a little breathing room for growth, both at the main site and in the forums. I've been avoiding growth because we haven't been ready for it. Frankly, though, it's not in my nature to leave two 76G hard disks sit mostly empty for very long.