At isev, it’s really important to us that our client’s websites and services remain available as much of the time as possible.
Availability is becoming increasingly important as more and more of we appreciate the fact that our websites and other services aren’t just used during the regular Mon-Fri, 9-5. But especially during those key business hours, it’s even more important! Nobody likes it when a mission-critical service goes slow…or worse: goes down.
Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable. Web hosting is a complicated process. Sometimes accidents happen or problems occur that are beyond our control. While no one can guarantee 100% uptime and top performance all of the time, we do our best to get the best uptime and highest performance – even at peak times – that we can.
Here’s how we’re making sure all of our clients’ services achieve the best performance:
1. Efficient Use of Server Resources
Web servers are complex systems. At any moment, they could be asked to service a thousand customers all trying to do different things. Try getting one of your staff to do that!
But like all computer systems, they have limits. It could be that memory (RAM), CPU cycles, hard drive space, or bandwidth gets put under a lot of pressure and used up very suddenly. A shortage on any of these resources could quickly lead to a slow service and/or server, or even a server crash.
We try to prevent this as much as possible by carefully monitoring how our platform runs on our servers. Our platform allows us to monitor the resource usage of all sites on each server to see who’s misbehaving and we’ll proactively take steps to limit the impact this could have on everybody else’s service.
Whilst it’s perfectly possible to scale our systems up (vertically — adding more memory, faster CPUs, bigger hard drives), it’s also possible to scale out, or horizontally, i.e. adding more servers dedicated to specific tasks. A number of clients already have their own dedicated servers to limit the impact other users on a server or network, might have on their services.
But we’re also constantly looking for ways to reduce resource usage on our existing servers, to reduce the need for scaling. We do this by:
- Improving and upgrading the core components of our platform such as the web server software, the database system and the PHP stack — in fact, we’ve got some important upgrades that we’ll be implementing very soon which should see a lot of our clients get a nice speed boost;
- Identifying and reducing individual site resource usages (more on this next);
- Dealing swiftly with bad neighbours — occasionally some sites have vulnerabilities that we only become aware of when they’re exploited. We become aware of the abuse almost immediately and act as quickly as we can to stop the abuse and restore normal service.
2. Identifying Critical Bottlenecks in Code and Databases
Each website or service on our servers is considered to be a piece of software, or application. Each is made up of code that the server has to process.
Servers are like bus lanes for your applications and like real bus lanes, sometimes there are problems: someone’s parked where they shouldn’t, another bus has broken down, roadworks, or maybe there’s a cyclist in the bus lane slowing things down.*
There could be any number of reasons why your application code runs slow, and it can sometimes take a lot of investigation.
Sometimes it can be in databases too. Almost every website we host relies on a database in one way or another to support its features. Over time these databases get bigger and bigger. Keeping them running smoothly is critical so as not to hold up the rest of the application.
We have a lot of experience in app performance tuning and we use a variety of tools to help find these bottlenecks and improve the code where we can. We monitor your databases to see which ones are running optimally and make adjustments as necessary.
3. Keeping Regular Backups in Case the Worst Happens
We backup everything on our network daily and generally we can restore sites or data back from a critical incident within minutes instead of hours or days.
If you’d like more granular backups and assurances that your data is safe up-to-the-minute, talk to us about your website hosting options, we’ll be happy to recommend the right solution for you.
Extended Care as Standard
Just recently we completed a full analysis of all of the sites on our platform and made some tweaks where necessary to improve things. Following this we saw a dramatic improvement in the stability of our servers and we’re continuing to improve this even further.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re also looking to do some core platform upgrades on some of our servers in the not-too-distant future, which will again boost performance, as well as increase the security of our network.
We do all of these things because we should: it means everything to us to see you succeed and we’re determined to help you keep on being successful — not just working for you: but working with you. That’s what it means to work with isev.
Those are just a few of the things that we do regularly to keep our systems tip-top. But if you’re one of our customers, where we are hosting your website on our platform, is there anything that you can do? Actually, there is:
- Let us know when you’re expecting a high volume of traffic. We can make recommendations about how to keep your site up and running through the peak times. Forewarned is forearmed.
- Are you planning on driving consistent traffic via advertising and other marketing campaigns? Let us know so we can prioritise resources for you.
- If you’re looking to scale your site/service, talk to us about how we can help you achieve and support that growth.
For many of our clients, their website is their livelihood, so keeping it available and performance is critical to their success. They continue working with us because they can see the efforts we go to on their behalf and we love working with them. If you’d like to have a team of experts looking after your website, please contact us give us a call today on 01952 897 444
*I’ve got nothing against cyclists, it’s just how it is sometimes