Recommended structure for high traffic website

I'm rewriting a big website, that needs very solid architecture, here are my few questions, and pardon me for mixing apples and oranges and probably kiwi too:) I did a lot of research and ended up totally confused.

Main question: Which approach would you take in building a big website expected to grow in every way?

  1. Single entry point, pages data in the database, pulled by associating GET variable with database entry (?pageid=whatever)

  2. Single entry point, pages data in separate files, included based on GET variable (?pageid=whatever would include whatever.php)

  3. MVC (Alright guys, I'm all for it, but can't grasp the concept besides checking all tutorials and frameworks out there, do they store "view" in database? Seems to me from examples that if you have 1000 pages of same kind they can be shaped by 1 model, but I'll still need to have 1000 "views" files?)

  4. PAC - this sounds even more logical to me, but didn't find much resources - if this is a good way to go, can you recommend any books or links?

  5. DAL/DAO/DDD - i learned about these terms by diligently reading through stack overflow before posting question. Not sure if it belongs to this list

  6. Sit down and create my own architecture (likely to do if nobody enlightens me here:)

  7. Something not mentioned...

Thanks.

Answers


Scalability/availability (iow. high-traffic) for websites is best addressed by none of the items you mention. Especially points 1 and 2; storing the page definitions in a database is an absolute no-no. MVC and other similar patterns are more for code clarity and maintenance, not for scalability.

An important piece of missing information is what kind of concurrent hits/sec are you expecting? Sometimes, people who haven't built high-traffic websites are surprised at the hit rates that actually constitute a "scalability nightmare".

There are books on how to design scalable architectures, so an SO post will not be able to the topic justice, but some very top-level concepts, in no particular order, are:

  • Scalability is best handled first by looking at hardware-based solutions. A beefy server with an array of SSD disks can go a long way.
  • Make static anything that can be static. Serve as much as you can from the web server, not the DB. For example, a lot of pages on websites dynamically generate data lists out of databases from data stores that very rarely or never really change.
  • Cache output that changes infrequently, and tune the cache refresh.
  • Build dynamic pages to be stateless or asynchronous. Look into CQRS and Event Sourcing for patterns that favor/facilitate scaling.
  • Tune your queries. The DB is usually the big bottleneck since it is a shared resource. Lots of web app builders use ORMs that create poor queries.
  • Tune your database engine. Backups, replication, sweeping, logging, all of these require just a little bit of resource from your engine. Tuning it can lead to a faster DB that buys you time from a scale-out.
  • Reduce the number of HTTP requests from clients. Each HTTP connect has overhead. Check your pages and see if you can increase the payload in each request so as to reduce the overall number of individual requests.

At this point, you've optimized the behavior on one server, and you have to "scale out". Now, things get very complicated very fast. Load-balancing scenarios of various types (sharding, DNS-driven, dumb balancing, etc), separating read data from write data on different DBs, going to a virtualization solution like Google Apps, offload static content to a big CDN service, use a language like Erlang or Scala and parallelize your app, etc...


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