charitable Engineer

The tech detail of the platform being used to host the world record attempt #comment24 is powered by WordPress, CIsco, EMC and TimicoThe attempt at the Guinness World Records® Record for most comments on an online news post in 24 hours is set to start at 6am on Thursday 5th January. This is going to be an interesting experiment which will hopefully raise a lot of cash for the RNLI.

In order to make a success of the record attempt we have moved the blog off its old shared platform onto a new state of the art job hosted at Timico’s new data centre in Newark. This is before the data centre is officially up and running so we have all its resources to ourselves. I am heavily indebted to Timico for this.

We have been quite busy getting the new infrastructure up and running so I am also very indebted to neighbour Steve Nice and his company Forlinux for their help with the platform software.

The basic architecture looks like the diag on the right (click to enlarge).Cisco UCS server architecture used to host for world record attempt A load balancer fronts a number of wordpress servers that in turn feed off a two database (one replicates to the other as a backup).

Each server is a Cisco UCS B200 blade and connects with 2 x 10TByte EMC Storage Area Network (SAN). The blades are dual 6 core (hyper-threaded) Xeon processors with 96Gigs of RAM each and with the Hard Drives disabled for mtbf optimisation purposes. The components are all connected using a 10GigE backplane.

The data centre initially has 2 x 10Gig connections coming into it so there is plenty of bandwidth available. The site supports IPv6.

We are using WordPress 3.3 on top of CentOS 6/Apache 2.2/PHP5.3 and mysql 5.1 – version numbers are hidden from people querying the web server (Apache).

The blog itself, already relatively light on plug-ins, is based on the Thesis theme and has been pared down to the minimum to maximise performance.

Some plug-ins are worth a mention. Caching is employed using WP Total Cache for performance optimisation. Simple Twitter Connect is used particularly for comment tweets and AddToAny is used in the post for sharing.

We were kindly offered CDN capacity by Limelight Networks but we as we have already been working overtime to get the data centre ready there wasn’t time to incorporate this. The CDN is probably just a “nice little extra” on this occasion anyway as the content isn’t particularly heavy on bandwidth.

If you want to help with this world record please tell your friends – the post is going live at 6am on Thursday at If you regularly use a forum or have your own blog please leave a post with a link to this site.  If you want to donate please use the JustGiving page or click on the big green “DONATE NOW” button in the sidebar.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

13 replies on “The tech detail of the platform being used to host the world record attempt #comment24”

Thanks Lee. Appreciate the input. We did discuss not using Apache but the general consensus was to keep it. I will however revisit it with the guys in the morning.

All the best

@ rupertrogue

If I recall correctly, it’s impossible to give a definitive answer on how many connections Apache can cope with – as it all depends on the type of load. A static page will consume less resources than a PHP page (which is heavier on resources). It also depends on how you’ve set things like PHP up…

nginx and lighttpd are much better than Apache at handling lots of small requests, and serving up static files (I think due to clever caching stuff…). A few of my friends have put nginx in front of Apache to serve their static files – leaving Apache to serve the processed files… Some of my friends also use varnish to cache stuff.

So I guess in this case – nginx would serve up the static page, and when you add a comment, it gets posted back, and passed to apache? At least that’s my understanding…. I don’t really get servers.. javascript’s my thing 🙂

In any case, the ForLinux chaps have set the software up – and they know their onions. If they say Apache, then they’ll have a really, really good reason for it 🙂

I can’t wait to see what happens 😀

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