Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Kalyan Ramanathan, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Xenia von Wedel, Pat Romanski

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
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@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 Onalytica. 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.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
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 ...