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Recent Acquia Hosting Updates

The hosting team at Acquia has been busy! While we continue to focus on making Acquia Hosting the most reliable and scalable Drupal hosting service anywhere, we've recently made significant enhancements to its usability and to the data we provide our customers.

First up are several improvements to our Acquia Hosting UI. We've added a new tab to show statistics at several points in the hosting stack including before and after the front end cache and well as a count of total Drupal requests. For more detail, please read Kurt Gray's excellent blog post.

We've simplified the server architecture information in the UI to clearly show the load balancers, web servers, and DB servers assigned to your site. We show server name, role, Amazon instance type, and a links to your log files. Over time, we'll continue to extend this display so you have easy access to the information you need to manage your site and understand how it's performing.

Other recent changes include:

  • Cache clearing: Customers can now clear their front-end Varnish cache themselves via a link on the hosting tab. You can clear the entire cache or one hostname at a time.
  • ah-import-db: An optimizing DB import tool.
  • Drupal performance checker: We've taken Acquia's Drupal performance tuning expertise and written a script that identifies common Drupal configuration mistakes. Right now, our support team uses the script to check a site prior to it going live. Over time, we'll continue to extend this with an eye towards making it smarter and usable directly by customers.
  • Performance improvements: With nearly every release (typically one a week), we implement better Drupal stack tunings. Last week, we tweaked our APC bytecode cache configuration to significantly reduce disk I/O for high traffic sties.

Stay tuned for more. And please let us know what Acquia Hosting improvements you'd like to see.


Posted on by Greg Knaddison.

The biggest request in my mind is an object cache like Memcache. It's the one major thing missing from the stack in terms of performance. Right now the Acquia stack is best for sites that have anonymous visitors (i.e. Pressflow/Varnish) but not as tuned for logged in users. Certainly APC and the database architecture is helpful, but memcache would greatly extend the ability to provide a high-performance experience for authenticated users.

Posted on by jim.salem.

I partially disagree with this. We have several customers performing well with very large numbers of registered users. For example, I know one that has at least 300K registered users. Note that in D5 and D6, the Pressflow extensions (or similar improvements to the default user queries) are required to get reasonable performance with 100K+ users.

While a custom-integrated memcache server could result in significant speedups, most of our customers are not willing to undertake that level of development effort. We don't currently see dramatic improvements by just using the standard Drupal memcache module since it caches relatively little data.

I'd love to see more data from real sites on the benefits of memcache and particular with sites only using the default memcache module.

That said, we do think memcache offers significant benefits for customers willing to make the effort to use memcache to its full potential. For that reason, you'll see us (probably) announce memcache support later this quarter.