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Chapter 24. The Business Web Site > Technology Expertise

Technology Expertise

Another important aspect of supporting a Web site is technology expertise. If the support you've chosen does not have the experience needed to architect, deploy, and support the right technologies or products, you may be stuck with a suboptimal infrastructure that is too expensive, not capable enough, not stable enough, or in some other way inferior. Of course, over time, these skills will be learned. Although this may be acceptable for an internal organization, it is a poor decision for an outsourced project.

Depending on the complexity of your infrastructure, the support organization may have to be expert in all aspects of current technology. These include:

Major server platforms: Intel, Sun, HP, IBM

Operating systems: MS Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX

Database management systems: Oracle, MS SQL Server, MySQL, PostgressSQL

Application Servers: BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, Tomcat, JBoss

Middleware servers: BEA Tuxedo, WebSphere MQ, MSMQ

Load Balancers: F5 Networks, Cisco/Alteon, Array

Firewalls: Checkpoint, Netscreen, Sonic, Watchguard, Cisco

Network elements: Cisco, Juniper, Netgear, Linksys

Outsourcing to a Datacenter

Data centers are facilities essential to the operation of a Web site. These are physical locations with servers, equipment, and people. There are some key buzzwords that you should know when looking for this kind of outsourcing solution.

Real Estate is the whole physical structure but specifically means the servers themselves, usually housed in individual cabinets, wire-fence cages, or cooled server rooms.

Bandwidth and Peering Arrangements are common in datacenters, although a growing number of external datacenter providers don't actually deliver these themselves but invite major network providers to locate access points within the datacenter and sell their circuits directly to the colocated customers. In either case, the bandwidth can be delivered via an Ethernet handoff or a telephone circuit, such as a DS-1 or a DS-3. You need to know what the arrangements are and adjust the architecture accordingly. For example, if the chosen facility hands bandwidth via an Ethernet connection, you will need a network switch to connect to it. If the hand-off is to a DS-3 circuit, you will need a router and a CSU/DSU to connect to it. Both are acceptable, but you need to know which one to buy.

Make sure the hand-off has sufficient redundancy to support availability requirements. You should look deep into the internal network of the bandwidth provider to make sure that the connectivity from the datacenter to the rest of the Internet has adequate redundancy to support your availability requirements, as well as wide peering arrangements to define performance requirements.

Clean, Redundant Power is a critical service in a datacenter. It is essential that the datacenter provide uninterruptible, well-conditioned power to the infrastructure and to the network elements that provide the connection to the Internet. Service should be delivered with at least N+1 redundancy across at least two modes of delivery. N+1 redundancy means that if you need two generators to run the facility at full load, you will actually have three at your disposal, and if you need 10, you will actually have 11, and so on. A good Data Center will have both backup battery power and backup generators (diesel or turbine). Furthermore, there should be at least one spare generator over and above the generator capacity necessary to run the entire datacenter at full electrical load, including climate control. N+2 redundancy is better, and some datacenters may even have 2N redundancy in some systems (that is twice as many components as needed).

Stable Climate Conditions are another critical service in a datacenter. It is usually provided by a redundant system of air conditioners and relies on carefully designed airflow to carry the heated air from the servers out of the facility and pump the cold air to the servers. N+1 redundancy is required in this service.

Physical Site Security for the site may include human guards, video surveillance systems, access card systems, and biometric systems, such as fingerprint, iris, or hand geometry scanners.



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