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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Scaling Alpha Five for high volume needs

If you've been wondering if Alpha Five Version 10 can scale to high volume situations, well, then this blog post is for you.

I invited one of our partners, Clive Swanepol, President of ZebraHost, to tell you about a recent test his company performed for a customer.

This customer, is deploying an Alpha Five Version 10 Ajax Web application running against MS SQL Server to over 600 retail stores with thousands of users. Here is what Clive wrote, unedited, in its entirety.

Developing sophisticated Web applications using Alpha Five Version 10 is quick and easy. The big question has been "Can Alpha Five Applications Scale?"

The answer now is "Absolutely!"

To prove it, Alpha Software teamed up with ZebraHost and Neotys to run an Alpha Five Version 10 application through the wringer. The application was a real-world application developed by independent Alpha developers. The test simulated virtual users accessing the application in increasing numbers.

Using nine virtual machines hooked up to a load balancer, the system was able to handle hundreds of simultaneous users. The Neotys load testing software working from a tenth virtual machine pinpointed bottlenecks.

It generated the load, monitored the application and database servers, and helped to analyze the results. This enabled the team to make configuration adjustments that significantly improved performance. The load balancer distributed the load smoothly in a round robin configuration maintaining sessions.

Scaling Alpha Five applications is achieved by tweaking the Web application server to maximize its performance for the particular application and then adding hardware as needed. (Thousands of simultaneous users would simply require more virtual machines.)

Alpha software and ZebraHost have the expertise to help developers test, configure, size, and deploy highly scalable Web applications. Developers can contact for an estimate of the cost to test their app.

Best Regards,

Clive Swanepoel
ZebraHost L.L.C.

As you know, scalability is always a question that comes up when you are building multi-user database applications. When you put a database on the Web where tens of thousands of people might potentially simultaneously access it, scalability becomes even more important.

I'm not going to tell you that Alpha Five could support 6 billion people simultaneously trying to update a record but we were very happy with the results from Clive's recent tests. I will also tell you that (as we see more and more large scale Alpha Five Version 10 deployments) scalability is a very important topic for us at Alpha and is getting a lot of focus from our development team both in terms of testing and in terms of continuous improvement.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that we want to make sure that any Alpha Five application that you build and deploy, whether it is for a small or a large user community, makes you and your users happy.


Dan Bergen said...

Here is a question from an accountant who knows nothing about web server scaling. To what degree could alpha's performance in both desktop and web applications be improved by using a Solid State Drive, along with more ram and a faster processor?

Martin Heller said...

For the application we tested in this proof of concept, the key hardware limit was CPU power, not disk speed or the amount of RAM. YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Ken Keller said...

What about scaling the database tier? Does Alpha 5 use a middle tier cache like memcached? Can Alpha 5 shard? Can Alpha 5 deal w/ a nosql datastore?

Ken Keller said...

What about scaling the data store tier? Can Alpha 5 shard? Or use nosql data stores?

Does Alpha 5 use a middle tier cache like memcached for anything?

Martin Heller said...

Ken, great questions. Alpha Five can use databases that shard and can also query multiple data sources. It doesn't currently support memcache or nosql. Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.

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