One of the challenges in preparing for the larger project was the ability to predict the demands of the three technologies used for Sandstone's software applications, Hunt said. He explained that the "front end" of of the team building software uses Ajax, with PHP and Java running behind.
"Java is quite memory intensive so that was a requirement where we probably had an idea of what we needed, because it is relatively easy to do the theory on Java. The Ajax and PHP side is less easy, because all the different parameters that exist inside the web server and PHP settings and so on can have a massive, sudden cliff. It can be working perfectly well, but add a straw and everything falls over. So we needed to test that thoroughly," he said.
Sandstone eventually decided on 8GB of memory, to support the increase server demands, as well as the equivalent of a 20,000 MHz CPU. Hunt said that this could have rendered the project financially prohibitive under the terms of its previous hosting agreement, which stipulated a month-long rental of server capacity, charging for peak demand throughout the period.
In addition consultancy fees were charged, and Sandstone was unable to decide on capacity itself, relying on its provider to determine CPU and memory demands. Hunt estimated that this would have upped costs by as much as 10 times the amount paid for a cloud service.
"We wouldn't have been able to do this with a VDS offering," Hunt said. "The only way to do that with our previous supplier would have been to have a dedicated machine which would have increased the cost considerably. It would have been a nightmare."
Hunt added that by choosing a cloud service over a hosting system, it will be possible to easily increase the number of end users in a team building session with little testing. This means that systems could be provisioned for anywhere up to 10,000 users with only a few hours notice at most, he said, allowing the company to scale its business accordingly.
"The flexibility is important to us," Hunt said. "What we are doing is leading edge and as we bring out more activities we will need different things for those, and we won't need to change our technology based supplier."
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