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Selecting Server Size

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Posted: 31 May 2002

When you're planning your BorderManager installation, the size of your servers is a critical consideration. Here are some suggestions learned from years of experience in Novell Consulting. If you have other ideas for this list, please let us know.

Proxy/cache is primarily RAM-intensive. The proxy server should have the maximum amount of RAM that the mainboard will support. Also, when selecting a server machine for proxy/cache, focus on the drive subsystem.

The bottleneck in Novell caching solutions is the storage subsystem. When selecting machines as proxy/cache servers, emphasis should be on technologies such as Ultra-2 Wide SCSI, hardware RAID (striping), I2O, and high RPM drives. These high performance storage systems produce a great deal of heat and require sufficient cooling to ensure optimum throughput. Therefore, case design, placement, and adequate data center ventilation are important.

Any BorderManager server should have a minimum of 128MB RAM dedicated to BorderManager. That is, 128MB above the requirements of the OS and other services. 256MB is recommended. More RAM should be employed in higher-level servers in a hierarchical cache, with the primary cache device(s) containing the maximum supported by the mainboard.

Be sure to plan for the increased memory requirement when using SurfControl with BorderManager 3.7. This product requires 512MB of ADDITIONAL RAM, over and above anything else needed, to cope with the SurfControl database.

On large cache servers, the following is recommended:

  • Two drives in a RAID 1 array (purely for fault tolerance) containing the SYS and LOG volumes. 4GB each is recommended.
  • Two or more drives in a RAID 0 array (for performance enhancement), or four or more drives in a RAID 0/1 array (to combine performance enhancement with fault tolerance), containing the CACHE volume. Make the volume fill the available drive space, with a 9GB minimum. Do not use RAID 5 for the CACHE volume; a drive failure will bring disk I/O to a crawl.

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