[SATLUG] Affordable Healthcare websites

Matthew matthew at infodancer.org
Mon Oct 7 12:02:43 CDT 2013

On 10/07/2013 11:20 AM, Borries Demeler wrote:
> This sounds like poor code design/incompetent development was at the
> root of the problem. Yeah, open source tools aren't going to save you
> from that one.
I'll throw in my 2 bucks, having deployed websites that received
significant traffic on both Linux and Windows platforms before. 

You have a LOT of work to do before the OS platform you are running on
becomes your limiting factor.  You have to make sure your pipe is large
enough; make sure your database (or other back-end resources) are fast
enough; optimize your common database queries; tune whatever connection
pooling mechanism you are using; avoid making unnecessary calls to that
database; tune your webserver to allow for sufficient concurrent
connections and other parameters based on available ram and cpu
resources; separate your content into tiers if necessary (static ->
dynamic -> database); make sure you're not pushing disk io limits; do
actual load testing to see what you missed, which can be pretty complex
in itself; and a lot of other stuff.

At some point in there you check the OS for limiting factors.  Maybe you
bump the number of open files up from the stock values (on both OSes). 
Maybe you tweak some tcp/ip parameters.  Maybe you switch filesystems or
tweak the parameters on your web server away from their default values
to support a higher traffic site.  You can do a lot of those things on
both Linux and Windows.  A lot of the concepts are fairly similar, even.

At that point, I would say that Linux (and most of the other unixes)
will provide a better platform for managing a high traffic site, but
only after you've gone down the list of things that have nothing to do
with the OS first.  That's a long list and exactly what makes a
difference is going to depend on the site itself and how it was written. 

Just saying "Run it on Linux" is not a panacea.  If your website was
written poorly, it will still be written poorly.  If your windows admin
knows what he is doing, he can tweak a lot of the same or similar things
that he can tweak on Linux.  There are user interface differences and
technical differences, and I'd be willing to bet that most Linux distros
are tuned to be better servers than Windows out of the box, but on sites
like the healthcare site on launch day, none of that is going to matter.

Either your programmers wrote a good website that can handle the load,
or they didn't.  In this case, it sounds like they didn't.  I'm sure
they spent the last week frantically trying to identify the problems and
the last weekend frantically trying to fix them, and I doubt what OS
they were running was anywhere close to the top 10 in their list of

As for incompetent developers... I'd have to see what they told the
politicians who set the launch date before I would go that far.  For all
we know, the developers said "We're not ready!" and the politicians said
"Launch anyway, we cannot be seen to miss this deadline."

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