We all know that Drupal is where flexibility meets simplicity. A CMS designed to be the perfect solution for non-technical users, Drupal is a unified system that strives to have the strengths of a content management system and a content management framework. So irrespective of what a site builder is looking to create (from a news site or an online store to a social network or highly complex govt website) it is just a matter of combining the right modules for a perfect Drupal development.
Drupal has been constantly updating itself, and its newest version is a proof of how this open source CMS has quickly evolved into one of the most sought after framework (almost 1 million websites use Drupal 7 according to a report by Drupal.org) The newer version of Drupal-Drupal 8 has had its users at the edge of their seats with some of the most exciting features.
Some of these features of Drupal 8 are:
- Out of the box web service: Gone are the days when websites were only for desktop and web services were only used for websites using a service from other systems. With a variety of devices in the picture, web services in the present world are more important than ever. While web services are supported by a 3rd party module in Drupal 7, it has been included in Drupal 8 core.
- Security Improvements: Security has always been a concern, and with the addition of new features, Drupal 8 has made ways to make systems more secure.
- Easier & Faster: With Drupal 8, the Drupal API is completely RESTful, making it easier for the developer to use Angular.js ,Ember.js & many other display tools without much hassle.
- Mobile Improvements: Like we talked earlier, mobile devices are the driving force in today's world. Drupal 8 provides full support for mobile site templates accompanied by easy back-end administration from a mobile device.
As most of these features support some of the biggest & complex sites which drive a lot of traffic and are vulnerable to performance issues, it becomes important too handle these problems as soon as possible as the driving force in traffic growth is not just confined from clients to servers but also between the back-end servers.
So let us discuss a few tips that can help us solve some of the common performance issues that Drupal-based websites face.
DA wide range of Drupal websites initially use Apache HTTP server as their web server and the fact that instructions for configuring it are widely available, makes it the first choice among many website owners. But as the website grows and starts driving in more traffic, that is when people shift to the NGINX server. At this stage, with difficulties in supporting more than 10,000 connections at a time to the entire server freezing out or crashing, Drupal and Apache share problems which are hard to overcome.
With the site's vulnerability at stake, NGINX is the preferred choice by the people to stabilize the site's architecture. Instead of changing servers and causing issues, several steps can be taken to address such performance related problems as the site grows.
- NGINX as the first choice for the web server of your Drupal Site improves performance & sharply reduces the memory utilization.
- NGINX is one of the most popular reverse proxy servers for a number of Drupal Sites as it can handle the internet traffic and reduce the burden on your application server.
A quick fix that can take care of the performance, security & flexibility of your Drupal website is a move from Apache to NGINX as the web server for your site. A common problem that haunts most of the web servers is the C10K problem - the difficulty that the web servers have in supporting simultaneous connections (usually not more than 10,000 connections at once). NGINX was designed to solve this particular problem. With an ability to run an ongoing event loop that handles requests as they occur, without allocating resources to the requestors, NGINX eliminates the overhead that the process of forking a new process for each new connection incurs.
Reverse Proxy Server
A reverse proxy server is not like your usual servers. This server receives the requests from the browsers and instead of immediately processing them, examines each request and decides what action to take on it: either to carry out the request by itself or to send it out to another server for the fulfillment.
Deploying such a server is the first step in creating a site architecture that allows flexibility, redundancy, improved security and a basket full of other good things. One of the main reasons a reverse proxy server is likely to help the performance of a website is because the communication between the web servers is faster than the communication over the internet. And this communication with other web servers in the reverse proxy serving is essentially free.
Thus by adding a reverse proxy server, your Drupal site is free from handling the entire Internet traffic directly. This server immediately takes care of a site that is crumbling under the pressure of huge traffic, security problems & performance issues. With the introduction of new flexibilities in the site architecture, a reverse proxy server allows new capabilities & functions that can run efficiently without impacting the application server.
Multiple Application Servers & Load Balancing
It is highly impossible to get better performance with a single application server. But bigger & faster servers are potentially expensive and because a single device always has an inherent performance, you need to upgrade or replace the current device (a highly disruptive operation) for more performance. This is where a reverse proxy server comes into the picture. This server allows the usage of multiple application servers which ensures better Drupal performance by just adding additional servers into the system. This process of adding and removing the servers can be made easy with the right software tools such as NGINX Plus which reduce the amount of downtime to a great extent.
The presence of multiple application servers means that there has to be a technique to decide which server gets the next request. The techniques range from a simple approach to a complex one in which each server is examined by the system to find out which one is least busy before sending a request. This is known as Load Balancing. The NGINX server & the NGINX Plus support five load-balancing techniques that help in improving the Drupal performance.