A couple of weeks ago we told you about our “Don’t Make Me Wait” programme, which has the objective of optimising the Portal (and our internal Workplace) experience to delivering webpages in 2 seconds, where possible.
A number of actions are required in order to achieve this and Dan Kirkland, our Software Platform Manager, outlined these in his announcement here :
We thought it was time to update you on our progress and how far away we are from achieving our goal!
Dan mentioned in his last post that we had recently moved our core databases to some new, high-end, servers. The next phase of this work is to optimise the database as best we can. We were recently visited by a consultant from MySQL themselves who documented a number of pointers which we are currently working through.
Splitting Server Platforms
Up until now, we have been running our customer and platform management system (workplace) on the same servers as our web portals. Up until recently, this made sense; but as our business has grown, this implementation is no longer sustainable.
Workplace has evolved, and more advanced tools have been continually added to the platform, putting a further load on the servers. This means that the work we do internally to service customers and run our business has been directly impacting on the performance of these servers – and therefore the portal experience that you guys have.
To avoid this, we recently made the decision to move Workplace onto its own internal ‘w-servers’. This means that what we do internally should have less of an impact on the Portals. For the last 14 days, therefore, the Business has been slowly moved over to using the segregated Workplace platform.
Upgrading PHP & Page Caching Systems
Our web portals are built using PHP scripting, and we believe that the time is now right to be upgrading the PHP service on our servers to the most recent, stable version. At the same time, we plan to improve our page caching systems to improve response times and efficiency.
This requires intensive testing to ensure that the Portals operate effectively under the new PHP service, and the UserGroup are currently conducting beta testing on an isolated Portal server that has already been upgraded to the latest version of PHP. If you’re interested, you can track bugs and progress on the UserGroup Issue Tracker (at http://usergroup.plus.net/pugit/).
The new Workplace servers mentioned above are now successfully running with this latest version, and we hope to have the Portal servers upgraded by the 17th December.
Reducing the size of the PHP Source Files
Two nights ago we rolled out the PHP4 / PHP5 compatible code to our Portal servers. This is in preparation for the PHP5 upgrade, and part of this involved rolling out more efficient code so that the server performs only the necessary work for each specific page request.
Have these changes helped?
Internally, we are already seeing the benefits of improved performance from the progress we've made thus far. We have certainly noted an increase in performance of Workplace - and the Portals, to us, seem to be operating faster since we split into two separate platforms. Is everybody else seeing the same? Feedback gladly accepted and appreciated as always!
This item can be discussed on our Portal Forums.