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Building a scalable, redundant cloud web application

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The joy of the cloud is that it makes it super easy to respond to changing demand. Say you write a web app. And it’s really good! In just a few weeks, you go from 10 users to 100,000.

In the bad old days, your app would have promptly fallen over, you would have had to buy new hardware and your sysadmins would have had to install and configure this hardware before your site came back up. These days, scaling up your server from a 2GHz processor to a 20GHz processor, or from 1GB of RAM to 8GB of RAM, is as simple as using an ElasticHosts cloud server pricing slider.

But what if you want to go to 10 million users? There’s still a limit on the size of a single server. To build a really high-traffic web application — and of course, to handle potential hardware or software failure safely — you’ll still need to branch out your app across as number of servers.

The good news is that the cloud makes this much easier too. Not only can you set up your high-traffic cluster as a series of virtual machines, managing the whole process from one command line, but you can connect them over a private VLAN and scale each element of the cluster up and down as you need.

Our new tutorial series looks at our recommended techniques for building a huge, high-traffic, redundant LAMP web application in the cloud. We have the following tutorials:

  1. Set up a cloud LAMP stack on an ElasticHosts machine
  2. Move MySQL to a separate cloud database server, connecting over a private VLAN
  3. Create a second MySQL cloud database server for master-master redundancy
  4. Add a second cloud web server and switch between the two using round-robin DNS
  5. Add a front-end Apache cloud load balancer for sophisticated traffic balancing between our two web servers
  6. Add a second HA cloud load balancer for complete redundancy throughout the stack

If you work your way through this series, you’ll have a completely redundant stack, balancing web traffic between two web and two database servers, and with failover of the load balancer, web and database server. Pretty cool, eh?

More Stories By Richard Davies

Richard Davies, CEO of ElasticHosts, joined the company from the leading global management consultancy McKinsey & Company, where he advised senior management at a large number of global high-tech and telecoms clients. Prior to McKinsey, he was one of the founding software engineers of Forbidden Technologies plc, a leader in web-based video tools. He is a published author from the early days of Java development.

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