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Published:
2013-02-10 08:54:31 -0500
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January 2012 - our server setup

At the beginning of 2012, the OTW owned 6 servers and paid for space on 6 virtual machines for the rest of our services. The Archive of Our Own was completely hosted on servers we owned (5 of the 6). This is important because owning the servers makes it easier for us to protect fanworks. We also had one switch for the Archive servers (this communicates between the different machines).

All our physical servers were at a colocation host - we pay them for space, electricity and bandwidth, and physical maintenance when required. The hosting costs at the start of the year were around $800 per month. The charges for the virtual servers were $420 per month.

Machine specifications

As of January 2012, the machine specifications and jobs were as follows:

Machine name Specification Purpose
otw1 ProLiant DL360 G5, E5420@2.50GHz with 16GBytes of Ram and 140GB of RAID 10 disc. Archive of Our Own Mysql secondary (database server for the Archive), Sphinx (used for free text searching), web stats
otw2 ProLiant DL360 G5, E5420@2.50GHz with 16GBytes of Ram and 140GB of RAID 10 disc. Archive of Our Own Memcached (used to speed up the Archive). Resque workers (run jobs that do not need to be done immediately, such as sending email). Redis (used to store data that needs to be stored quickly, such as page hits etc.).
otw3 Supermicro X8DTU, 24 gig of RAM, dual E5620 @ 2.40GHz, 4*143GB SAS discs Archive of Our Own Nginx (web services) and the application which provides the Archive.
otw4 Supermicro X8DTU, 24 gig of RAM, dual E5620 @ 2.40GHz, 4*143GB SAS discs Archive of Our Own Same as otw3.
otw5 Supermicro X8DTU, 48 gig of RAM, dual X5650 @ 2.67GHz, dual intel X25 80GB disc Archive of Our Own Mysql primary (database server for storing the works in the Archive)
Qnap QNAP TS-809U, 8*2GB discs. Archive of Our Own and other projects Storage device used for backups, work downloads, and shared binaries.
switch 16 port netgear dumb switch. Archive of Our Own Networking switch used for communication between internal servers
Tao Virtual machine with 1GB of RAM OTW tools Service machine: primary email support, Mailman (mailing lists), DNS hosting, and other support services and tasks.
Zen Virtual machine with 1GB of RAM OTW projects Web server: Hosts Fanlore, Transformative Works and Cultures (the OTW journal) and Symposium (TWC’s blog).
Buddha Virtual machine with 1GB of RAM OTW projects Web server: Hosts transformativeworks.org, the OTW Elections site and Open Doors.
Stage Virtual machine with 1.5GB of RAM OTW Projects Test Webserver: Used to test all websites’ code (including the AO3) before they go live.
Dev Virtual machine with 2 GB of RAM Archive of Our Own - internal Development server: Used to provide a Unix environment for Archive developers, so people don’t need to set up the code on their own machines to code for us.
Spine Virtual machine with 2 GB of RAM Service machine: Used to host offsite backups and other services.

Definitions:

Virtual machine: a server that looks like an actual computer but is actually software built on top of a larger, higher performance server. Virtual machines are ideal for web servers and other basic workhorse systems.

Storage device: A system that is mostly disk space and networking. Imagine a gigantic external hard disk times a billion.

Service machine: A system that runs mostly behind the scenes programs that Joe User never sees, but OTW staff may need.

KVM: Keyboard/Video/Mouse: Servers generally do not come with these, but are just big boxes full of disks, memory, CPU, and lots and lots of fans. To talk to a server directly, while in front of it, you generally need a KVM.

DNS: Dynamic Name Service. What tells other computers (like yours) where to find sites like archiveofourown.org.

Colocation: Remote hosting site where servers are kept. Hosting costs include power, cooling, and someone to physically work with the machine when needed.

Archive of Our Own - server setup

As you can see from the above, the Archive of Our Own uses the most servers and therefore has a more complicated server setup. For the curious (and technically minded) here’s how they were organised at the start of 2012:

Diagram of OTW server setup in January 2012