Split your web content or not? Part 1 of 2

Achieve higher levels of performance using a split deployment on your web tier

With BI4 the web tier performance took a hit due to the introduction of AJAX support and increased size and complexity of the web applications. To remedy you can try to throw more memory at Tomcat or play around with the different viewers. Switching your default View and Modify viewers to the Web option does help some, but the real solution to consider is splitting the static and dynamic web content across a web and application server. The simplest form of this would be to put the web content on Apache and the static content on the bundled Tomcat.

There are several areas that this split uses to achieve the performance gains. First is the use of cache headers.  Moving files marked with cache-able headers to Apache decreases the number of requests on Tomcat. This helps spread the load of serving a page between Apache and Tomcat.  Second is a decrease in the amount of garbage collection that Tomcat has to do. Garbage collection intervals become far less frequent and require less time when they only have to clean up dynamic content. The third and final is the use of mod_cache in Apache, coupled with htcacheclean. At a high level this provides an automatic way to clean up the static Apache cache based on age and/or modify date.  This allows Apache to read from cache directories versus htdocs which is much faster.

At EV Technologies, we recommend the split deployment to all our customers. I cannot take credit for anything revolutionary here.  The SAP manuals are a good resource and will get you through this but most of my information came from articles written by James Rapp from SAP.  Links to his SDN documents are below and are wonderful resources to get a deeper understanding of how this all works and what the benefits are, including some nice screen shots showing performance gains visually. Thanks to James, I did not have to go through and reinvent the wheel with new docs since his are so good.

In the second part of this series, I will discuss the pros and cons of splitting your content and some basic detail on how it is done technically.  Hope you enjoy the reading and it provides some food for thought.  Thanks!

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