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An Overview of ASP.NET - Greater Scalability

An Overview of ASP.NET

by John Peterson

Greater Scalability

Unfortunately scalability often gets lumped in with my last topic, performance, but it really is a different problem altogether. It's actually fairly easy to build a really fast site that doesn't handle more than a handful of users. Unfortunately I already talked about one of the biggest scalability improvements, caching, in my discussion of performance... so I guess I'll have to find something else to talk about here and amazingly this is actually not that hard, which just goes to show how much has changed!

First of all the system has been built with a number of features to improve performance in multi-processor and clustered environments. For example session state can now be maintained in a separate process, on a separate machine, or even in a database allowing for cross server sessions. This allows you to relatively easily add more web servers as your traffic grows even if you hadn't thought about it and planned for it during development. (If you haven't tried migrating to a web farm ask anyone who has and they'll tell you that this alone more than makes up for any headaches you might have upgrading!)

There's also something called web gardens that I don't fully understand yet, but they're supposed to help make multi-processor machines scale so they can do more work then single processor machines. I know it's a rather novel idea, but what the heck... someone thought they'd try and pull it off and apparently they have.

So you've been given the tools to build a better web farm, but what about keeping it running? Well processes are now closely monitored and managed by the ASP.NET runtime. When one leaks or deadlocks it's automatically shut down, but wait it gets better. A new one is started in its place to take over the load before the original is shut down. The runtime then directs new requests to the new process and drains requests from the old one and shuts it down. So not only do runaway processes get curbed without you having actually to do it, the end user never sees any down time because a replacement is provided! (Now you can't tell me that that's not cool.)

Oh... and now just so you don't forget... caching. All that stuff about caching in the last section, well it applies here too. If you've got a hundred people coming to your site for the same information, what better way to increase scalability then only having to get that information once and being able to reuse it? That's all I'm gonna say... really... well at least on this page!

Increased Performance | Back to the Index | Quicker and Easier Development

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