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System Deployment

The College of the Liberal Arts at Penn State was running their online courses on an underpowered VM infrastructure and using an inefficient web software architecture. This resulted in multiple performance issues and outages at peak traffic time.

In addition to application improvements, Six Feet Up carried out a technical investigation aimed at identifying the most appropriate hosting setup for the College. The team proposed a new hosting architecture, and specified what size VMs (RAM, CPU cores, etc.) to set up, and which filesystems to use. Finally, Six Feet Up deployed and tested the College's new hosting infrastructure.

The courses are now running on 9 Virtual Machines: 1 for testing, 4 for acceptance and 4 for production. The Plone CMS is running in each environment on a pair of application servers and PostgreSQL is running on a pair of database servers. For better concurrency and scalability, RelStorage is used to store the data on two PostgreSQL database servers. A Netscaler load balancer is used internally and externally to provide scaling and high availability, as well as used as a caching proxy. Memcache is used in the application for caching sessions and frequently-used RelStorage data. Six Feet Up used Pacemaker and Corosync to ensure high availability at the database layer. The team leveraged to run the final performance tests.

Since the new system went into effect, the server issues have been entirely resolved and the College of the Liberal Arts has enjoyed a fast and "rock solid" system.

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