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> the system really struggles
Have you been able to identify where or which part of the system
is really slow? (is it the database, coldfusion, network, web browser, etc.)
> would it spread performance across the servers
Clustering will not take one request and process it across servers.
I think taking one request and processing it on multiple servers is called
parallel processing and I'm not sure there are any products out there that
would allow CF to do this. However, I believe CF can take a request and
process it across multiple processors (provided that your machine has
Ideally, clustering would distribute many requests across many servers so
that no one machine is required to process all incoming requests. As you
know, this method is called Load Balancing.
Here's an example to think about... you only have one user using your
application but this user runs the more complex scenarios. Load Balancing
would not at all help the performance of the system but parallel processing
(if it were available) might help with the overall throughput.
> or just provide fail over
Clustering can provide fail over.
> concentrate on finishing one running task as fast as possible
I'll make an attempt at an analogy for this one...
Adding more servers is like adding more lanes on the road.
Using multi-processor machines is also like adding more lanes on the road.
But in both cases, you are still constrained by the speed limit.
Not only that, but the given road conditions may slow you down; like
not enough memory, hard-drive to slow, etc.
You can take an alternate route. One with more lanes, higher speed limit,
and better road conditions. But this can get pricey.
I know it sounds like I am suggesting that you throw more hardware at the
problem. You should always be weary of such suggestions since most of
the time the problem is with poorly written or inefficient code.
So before you pay the toll, be sure you know where the potholes are. If you
don't have a whole lot of users and you are already experiencing performance
bottlenecks this may be an indication of code that can use more tunning.
Or it may just be a configuration issue.