Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Dana Gardner, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, SmartBear Blog, AppDynamics 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
For IoT to grow as quickly as analyst firms’ project, a lot is going to fall on developers to quickly bring applications to market. But the lack of a standard development platform threatens to slow growth and make application development more time consuming and costly, much like we’ve seen in the mobile space. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Weiner, Product Manager of the Omega DevCloud with KORE Telematics Inc., discussed the evolving requirements for developers as IoT matures and conducted a live demonstration of how quickly application development can happen when the need to comply wit...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems, described how to revolutionize your archit...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society-changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jason Mondanaro, Director, Product Management at Metanga, discussed how you can plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change the world and it starts with business models and monetization strategies.
The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect their organization.
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Converging digital disruptions is creating a major sea change - Cisco calls this the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE is the network connection of People, Process, Data and Things, fueled by Cloud, Mobile, Social, Analytics and Security, and it represents a $19Trillion value-at-stake over the next 10 years. In her keynote at @ThingsExpo, Manjula Talreja, VP of Cisco Consulting Services, discussed IoE and the enormous opportunities it provides to public and private firms alike. She will share what businesses must do to thrive in the IoE economy, citing examples from several industry sectors.
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Opening Keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, d...
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
Akana has released Envision, an enhanced API analytics platform that helps enterprises mine critical insights across their digital eco-systems, understand their customers and partners and offer value-added personalized services. “In today’s digital economy, data-driven insights are proving to be a key differentiator for businesses. Understanding the data that is being tunneled through their APIs and how it can be used to optimize their business and operations is of paramount importance,” said Alistair Farquharson, CTO of Akana.
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a "Make or Buy" decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud business applications and services across multiple cloud delivery models.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, analyzed how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Payment...
In his keynote at 16th Cloud Expo, Rodney Rogers, CEO of Virtustream, discussed the evolution of the company from inception to its recent acquisition by EMC – including personal insights, lessons learned (and some WTF moments) along the way. Learn how Virtustream’s unique approach of combining the economics and elasticity of the consumer cloud model with proper performance, application automation and security into a platform became a breakout success with enterprise customers and a natural fit for the EMC Federation.
"Optimal Design is a technology integration and product development firm that specializes in connecting devices to the cloud," stated Joe Wascow, Co-Founder & CMO of Optimal Design, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CommVault has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. A singular vision – a belief in a better way to address current and future data management needs – guides CommVault in the development of Singular Information Management® solutions for high-performance data protection, universal availability and simplified management of data on complex storage networks. CommVault's exclusive single-platform architecture gives companies unp...
Electric Cloud and Arynga have announced a product integration partnership that will bring Continuous Delivery solutions to the automotive Internet-of-Things (IoT) market. The joint solution will help automotive manufacturers, OEMs and system integrators adopt DevOps automation and Continuous Delivery practices that reduce software build and release cycle times within the complex and specific parameters of embedded and IoT software systems.
"ciqada is a combined platform of hardware modules and server products that lets people take their existing devices or new devices and lets them be accessible over the Internet for their users," noted Geoff Engelstein of ciqada, a division of Mars International, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Internet of Things is moving from being a hype to a reality. Experts estimate that internet connected cars will grow to 152 million, while over 100 million internet connected wireless light bulbs and lamps will be operational by 2020. These and many other intriguing statistics highlight the importance of Internet powered devices and how market penetration is going to multiply many times over in the next few years.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dyn, the worldwide leader in Internet Performance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dyn is a cloud-based Internet Performance company. Dyn helps companies monitor, control, and optimize online infrastructure for an exceptional end-user experience. Through a world-class network and unrivaled, objective intelligence into Internet conditions, Dyn ensures traffic gets delivered faster, safer, and more reliably than ever.