It is important that server platforms be optimized for Web server performance. It’s also critical that once a server has reached its full potential, organizations are able to expand from one server to a “farm” of Web servers. This guarantees that as the demand for Web server resources increases, organizations are provided with a solution to grow. In addition, as a Web site is distributed across one or more physical servers, the availability will increase as well. In order to facilitate this growth, scalability and availability services are required to provide automatic failover in the result of a server failure and automatic load balancing of HTTP requests between Web servers.
Solaris 7 Implementation Details
Solaris Easy Access Server lacks support for any integrated fault-tolerance and/or load balancing to benefit organizations that require more than a single Web server, or wish to provide higher availability by distributing their Web site across multiple servers. Additional products are available from Sun and third parties to provide these services to the Solaris platform.
On Solaris Enterprise Server, Sun Cluster and Solaris Resource Manager are available for handling clustering and load-balancing respectively. Sun Cluster supports 4-node clusters through an extensive GUI tool that helps ensure the reliability, availability and scalability. Solaris Resource Manager can improve application performance by dynamically allocating unused resource capacity and can also manage resources on a per user or per application basis.
Windows NT Server 4.0 Implementation Details
Available as a download for Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition is the Network Load Balancing Service (NLBS). Based on technologies developed for the Convoy Cluster Software by Valence Research. NLBS installs as a standard network driver and service. It operates in a fully transparent manner to all server applications and TCP/IP clients. Clients can access a WLBS cluster as if it were a single computer. Under normal operations, NLBS automatically balances networking traffic between the clustered computers, scaling the performance of one server to the level required by the customer. When a computer fails or goes offline, NLBS automatically reconfigures the cluster to direct client connections to the remaining computers. When the offline system returns to service, it transparently rejoins the cluster and regains its share of the workload. This service compliments the Microsoft Cluster Server by providing both load balancing and fault-tolerance at the IP level, improving performance and availability for IP-based services.
Windows 2000 Server will continue to support the same Web farm clustering solutions for scalability and availability as outlined above for Windows NT Server 4.0. Performance enhancements in IIS 5.0 allow for significantly better performance on SMP systems or those hosting large numbers of sites. These enhancements allow many more sites to be deployed on a single server and provide for significantly better performance, reducing total cost of ownership.
Internet Server Scalability and Availability Summary
Where Internet services scalability and availability is a priority, Windows NT Server 4.0 and Windows 2000 Server provide Windows Load Balancing Services (NLBS). With NLBS, TCP/IP requests are automatically balanced between machines. In the event of a failure, user requests will be automatically redirected providing absolute availability.
The Solaris 7 scalability and availability solution is provided through Sun Cluster and Solaris Resource Manager, which must be licensed from Sun and installed separately from the operating system. Only the high-end Solaris Enterprise Server includes these products as a standard component.
Streaming Media Services
In today’s electronic commerce-dominated marketplace, audio- and video-enabled Web sites and applications for both internal and external use are becoming more important to corporate customers. Streaming media allows high quality audio and video to be delivered over the Internet even with low bandwidth, dialup connections. It is providing many organizations with new and exciting ways to communicate with customers, employees, and business partners. Popular applications of the technology include corporate communications, customer and sales support, news and entertainment services, and product promotions.
Solaris 7 Implementation Details
Solaris 7 currently offers no streaming media solutions of any kind. Solaris customers desiring to deploy streaming media solutions must look to other operating systems and solutions from third party vendors.
Windows NT Server 4.0 Implementation Details
Available as a free downloadable add-on, Windows Media Services is a comprehensive, scalable, streaming media solution for customers running Windows NT Server 4.0. Windows Media Services scales easily from low-bandwidth to high-bandwidth applications and features total integration with the Windows NT operating system and other Microsoft products.
Audio codecs range in bandwidth from under 5.0Kbps at the low end, 5.0Kbps to 8 Kbps in the middle range, and 96 Kbps at the high end for broadcast quality audio. Video codecs range from 28.8-56 Kbps at the low end for dialup users, 56-500 Kbps in the middle range for users with dedicated connections, and 300 Kbps to 8 Mbps at the high end for full-screen, broadcast quality video.
Windows Media Services is fully integrated with the security model present in Windows NT Server 4.0, allowing easy securing of content. Additionally, Windows Media Services integrates with Microsoft Site Server for usage analysis and Site Server Commerce Edition for pay-per-view, pay-per-minute, and other fee-based or advertising-based multimedia applications. Finally, Windows Media Services is also integrated with the Microsoft PowerPoint presentation graphics program to deliver streaming slideshow presentations with integrated audio and video.
From a delivery perspective, Windows Media Services offers a variety of flexible options to deliver the broadcast to the client’s desktop. A fanout service is included that allows administrators to cost-effectively and easily distribute streams to other media servers, reducing network traffic over a Wide Area Network (WAN). In addition to traditional unicast (each client receives its own stream) deliver, Windows Media Services supports connectionless multicast, giving customers the ability to deliver a single stream to hundreds or thousands of clients simultaneously, greatly reducing the network bandwidth traditionally used in a unicast solution. In terms of capacity, Windows Media Services is currently the most cost-effective solution in the industry, supporting up to 1,200 simultaneous unicast clients on a single processor server with an Intel Pentium II 300 MHz processor.
In terms of media support, both live and staged events are fully supported. Windows Media Services supports the widely adopted Active Streaming Format (ASF) and Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) standards for streaming media.
Windows Media Services includes a full set of GUI based tools for administering the server-based services and for configuring and managing streaming media events. Command line and GUI-based tools are also provided for media clip encoding. The Windows Media On-Demand producer, co-produced by Microsoft and Sonic Foundry, provides an easy-to-use, GUI based tool for encoding, media management, and publishing using Windows Media Services.
Windows 2000 Server Implementation
Windows 2000 Server uses the same implementation of Windows Media Services currently available as a free download to users of Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0. The server, administrative tools, and encoder components are integrated directly with Windows 2000 Server and are available as optional components in Windows 2000 Setup. Other media production tools remain freely downloadable over the Internet.
On the Windows 2000 Server platform, Windows Media Services directly benefits from the many enhancements to the networking and communications infrastructure. In particular, the Quality of Service (QoS) features help to ensure a more reliable, consistent delivery of streaming media than is available on Windows NT Server 4.0. Additionally, the performance enhancements to the TCP/IP protocol stack made in Windows 2000 Server will be of direct benefit to users of the Windows Media Services, providing for better throughput and increased reliability.
Streaming Media Services Summary
For customers who want streaming media solutions, Windows 2000 Server or Windows NT Server 4.0 are the only logical choices. Solaris 7 offers no streaming media solution of any kind, forcing customers to look to other operating systems and third party vendors. Of the two Microsoft platforms, Windows 2000 Server is the best choice, as the customer will benefit from operating system integration, enhanced performance, and enhanced reliability from the networking capabilities.