As part of our 10-Year anniversary coverage, we intend to update our insanely dated FAQ entry that describes our system setup. Today is Part 1 where we talk mostly about the hardware that powers Slashdot. Next week we'll run Part 2 where we'll talk mostly about Software. Read on to learn about our routers, our databases, our webservers and more. And as a reminder, don't forget to bid on our charity auction for the EFF and if you are in Ann Arbor, our anniversary party is tomorrow night.
CT:Most of the following was written by Uriah Welcome, famed sysadmin extraordinaire, responsible for our corporate intertubes. He Writes...
Many of you have asked about the infrastructure that supports your favorite time sink... err news site. The question even reached the top ten questions to ask CmdrTaco. So I've been asked to share our secrets on how we keep the site up and running, as well as a look towards the future of Slashdot's infrastructure. Please keep in mind that this infrastructure not only runs Slashdot, but also all the other sites owned by SourceForge, Inc.: SourceForge.net, Thinkgeek.com, Freshmeat.net, Linux.com, Newsforge.com, et al.
Well, let's begin with the most boring and basic details. We're hosted at a Savvis data center in the Bay Area. Our data center is pretty much like every other one. Raised floors, UPSs, giant diesel generators, 24x7 security, man traps, the works. Really, once you've seen one class A data center, you've seen them all. (CT: I've still never seen one. And they won't let us take pictures. Boo savvis.)
Next, our bandwidth and network. We currently have two Active-Active Gigabit uplinks; again nothing unique here, no crazy routing, just symmetric, equal cost uplinks. The uplinks terminate in our cage at a pair of Cisco 7301s that we use as our gateway/border routers. We do some basic filtering here, but nothing too outrageous; we tier our filtering to try to spread the load. From the border routers, the bits hit our core switches/routers, a pair of Foundry BigIron 8000s. They have been our workhorses throughout the years. The BigIron 8000s have been in production since we built this data center in 2002 and actually, having just looked at it... haven't been rebooted since. These guys used to be our border routers, but alas... their CPUs just weren't up to the task after all these years and growth. Many machines plug directly into these core switches, however for certain self contained racks we branch off to Foundry FastIron 9604s. They are basically switches and do nothing but save us ports on the cores.
Now onto the meat: the actual systems. We've gone through many vendors over the years. Some good, some...not so much. We've had our share of problems with everyone. Currently in production we have the following: HP, Dell, IBM, Rackable, and I kid you not, VA Linux Systems. Since this article is about Slashdot, I'll stick to their hardware. The first hop on the way to Slashdot is the load balancing firewalls, which are a pair of Rackable Systems 1Us; P4 Xeon 2.66Gz, 2G RAM, 2x80GB IDE, running CentOS and LVS. These guys distribute the traffic to the next hop, which are the web servers.
Besides the 16 web servers, we have 7 databases. They currently are all running CentOS 4. They breakdown as follows: 2 Dual Opteron 270's with 16GB RAM, 4x36GB 15K RPM SCSI Drives These are doing multiple-master replication, with one acting as Slashdot's single write-only DB, and the other acting as a reader. We have the ability to swap their functions dynamically at any time, providing an acceptable level of failover.
2 Dual Opteron 270's with 8GB RAM, 4x36GB 15K RPM SCSI Drives These are Slashdot's reader DBs. Each derives data from a specific master database (listed above). The idea is that we can add more reader databases as we need to scale. These boxes are barely a year old now — and still are plenty fast for our needs.
Lastly, we have 3 Quad P3 Xeon 700Mhz with 4GB RAM, 8x36GB 10K RPM SCSI Drives which are sort of our miscellaneous 'other' boxes. They are used to host our accesslog writer, an accesslog reader, and Slashdot's search database. We need this much for accesslogs because moderation and stats require a lot of CPU time for computation.
And that is basically it, in a nutshell. There isn't anything too terribly crazy about the infrastructure. We like to keep things as simple as possible. This design is also very similar to what all the other SourceForge, Inc. sites use, and has proved to scale quite well.
CT: Thanks to Uriah and Chris Brown for the report. Now if only we remember to update the FAQ entry...