Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Sematext Blog, Pat Romanski, Stackify Blog

Related Topics: Linux Containers, PHP

Linux Containers: Article

Taking Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, and PHP to Their Logical Extreme

Taking Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, and PHP to their logical extreme

Let's play word association. I say "Web Hosting." I bet "fat margins" didn't jump into your head. More likely, you thought of some of the "where are they nows" of the bubble, like Exodus and PSINet. Let's do another round - I say "New York City," and I'd wager that "cheap rent" wasn't the first thing you thought of, either. So it may surprise you to learn that one hosting company that's been around since 1993 and that's actually making money, Logicworks (www.logicworks.net), just happens to be based in New York City.

What's their secret? Talk to CEO, Carter Burden, and he'll tell you that they have low customer turnover because of their superb support, and that this also allows them to earn a modest price premium over the competition. One customer raves: "I have been a client of Logicworks for over 6 years. The service has been as close to flawless as anyone has a right to expect." - Director of Technology, Philadelphia Magazine

Sounds like a good formula: a satisfied, growing customer base and healthy margins even in a space-intensive business in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.

Just how does Logicworks manage to provide over-the-top customer service without blowing out their SG&A budget? Typically, the more a company spends on customer service, the lower their margins, since they need to spend money on more customer support reps. In the hosting business, companies can incur costs buying third-party systems to correlate servers to customers so that, when an issue arises or when the customer wants a new feature turned on, it can be accomplished in a controlled and documented way with minimal effort and at maximum velocity. When you're talking three facilities, two live and one backup data center, where all facilities are connected via an in-house Gigabit Ethernet MAN, you get an idea of the potential complexity. Scaling such a system smoothly as you increase customers is also a daunting task.

After struggling for years to make commercial systems fit their needs, but failing to achieve the desired results, Logicworks embarked on a bold venture to build a custom integrated asset tracking, CRM, and system monitoring tool. Pause for a moment and take this in - not three tools - one for asset tracking, another for customer relationship management, and a third for system monitoring - but one tool that does all three, and in which all three components are seamlessly connected. In June of this year, just before I became acquainted with Logicworks at a trade show in New York, they announced the availability of their creation, which they call LogicOps.

In the Beginning...
Mr. Burden passionately explains his rationale behind unifying Logicworks' operational data in one meta system. "I felt that, in order for us to simultaneously meet our stringent customer service targets and keep our operational costs in check, it was imperative that we have a fully integrated platform for all of Logicworks' systems management activities. LogicOps ensures absolute precision and tight security controls for the services we offer now, and all the services we plan to offer in the future. Even more important, LogicOps provides a high degree of transparency into our operations for our customers, giving them control over their servers' administration."

Through a demonstration of LogicOps, I was impressed with the sheer breadth of the tool. Using LogicOps, a customer can enter a service ticket to add more RAM to one of their servers, for example. A Logicworks support rep will then use the tool to assign the task to a technician. When completed, both the support rep as well as the customer will receive a notification that the task has been completed. Then, when accounting needs to reconcile their inventory of RAM, they can use the same LogicOps system to track the customer to which the stick of RAM has been assigned, and when.

Because LogicOps contains detailed data about Logicworks' datacenter layout and chassis placement, it can also draw both a top-down view of the datacenter space, as well as a front view of each rack (see Figure 1). This allows management to make decisions about expansion without having to step foot in the datacenters and without tasking datacenter engineers with "gofer" tasks. This capability extends to power and switch/router capacity as well. Because LogicOps is a centralized repository, it provides engineers with an enormous amount of data in a single location. Instead of needing to search through multiple systems to collect the information required to accomplish a task, be it an IP address, a phone number of a client, or the location of a machine, they can find it all in one pass from a consistent interface.

Build It and They Will Come
Based entirely on open source components, LogicOps stores and represents assets (servers, racks, routers, VLANs, even memory modules), customer data (addresses/phone numbers, authorized contacts, service requests), and network status (utilization, failures) as generic objects in parent-child relationships. The unified tree structure groups all service elements into interconnected patterns, allowing for greater transparency for the customer while reducing Logicworks' operational complexity.

In building LogicOps, explains the system's architect Bart Grantham, open source software (OSS) was not a requirement, but rather it was a natural fit; most of Logicworks' engineers were comfortable with OSS, and this choice provided them with a lot of flexibility, which proved to be crucial as the project progressed. Price was also a factor, though not the deciding one. Furthermore, the team's level of expertise with OSS gave Logicworks' management the comfort they needed to forgo the backing by a central authority that you get with a commercial package. (See Figure 2)

Settling on Linux (currently Red Hat ES4) as the OS for the platform was easy given the team's familiarity with Linux and the ready availability of pre-made images for server deployment. PostgreSQL was chosen as the database back end for a number of reasons. Though not necessarily the fastest open source database, the Logicworks team liked the tool's enterprise features as well as their clean implementation. They also felt that the PL/pgSQL language made the development of stored procedures more flexible and expressive, which became a big plus at the end of the development cycle when, during final polishing of the application, the team achieved an enormous performance boost by moving some small but complex pieces of the application logic into stored procedures.

The middleware language selected was PHP for its ease-of-use and deployment and because of the good supply of developers who know it. This has made finding new members of the team to support the application relatively easy. For Bart and his team, this choice has also aged well with time. The team has found that the activity surrounding PHP includes strong community support and a wide array of useful libraries, such as ADODB and Smarty, both of which found their way into LogicOps. They also liked the eAccelerator PHP code cache, which helped reduce system latency. While eminently satisfied with their choice of PHP, the group recognizes that Python would also have been a good choice. Indeed, one extension of the tool under consideration is a cross-platform desktop client that, if implemented, will use Python to deliver an enhanced user experience.

Not surprisingly, Apache won the day for the Web server, though, after reading about lighttpd's speed and nice integration with PHP, the team is giving this alternative a look to see if it can deliver any performance gains.

More Stories By Greg Wallace

Greg Wallace is Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Emu Software, Inc. Greg received his MBA and Masters of International Affairs degrees from Columbia University in New York City. He also spent a year as a Rotary Foundation Scholar at the University of Barcelona, Spain. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
LinuxWorld News Desk 10/25/05 03:37:53 PM EDT

LinuxWorld Feature: Taking Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, and PHP to Their Logical Extreme. Let's play word association. I say 'Web Hosting.' I bet 'fat margins' didn't jump into your head. More likely, you thought of some of the 'where are they nows' of the bubble, like Exodus and PSINet. Let's do another round - I say 'New York City,' and I'd wager that 'cheap rent' wasn't the first thing you thought of, either. So it may surprise you to learn that one hosting company that's been around since 1993 and that's actually making money, Logicworks (www.logicworks.net), just happens to be based in New York City.

LinuxWorld News Desk 10/25/05 03:15:02 PM EDT

LinuxWorld Feature: Taking Linux, Apache, PostgreSQL, and PHP to Their Logical Extreme. Let's play word association. I say 'Web Hosting.' I bet 'fat margins' didn't jump into your head. More likely, you thought of some of the 'where are they nows' of the bubble, like Exodus and PSINet. Let's do another round - I say 'New York City,' and I'd wager that 'cheap rent' wasn't the first thing you thought of, either. So it may surprise you to learn that one hosting company that's been around since 1993 and that's actually making money, Logicworks (www.logicworks.net), just happens to be based in New York City.

@ThingsExpo Stories
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...