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I am starting a new web venture that may need to scale to a high number of users.

I am confident with the SPLA licencing for SQL Server Web edition, but want to know if I will need to factor in upgrading to Standard, Enterprise or DataCenter (pretty sure it won't be this one).

I know one shouldn't think about scaling before he needs to, but this will affect the architecture of the site and the business plan.

I know the processor limit is per physical processor, not thread, so that doesn't worry me. However some of the mirroring and backup features would worry me. Does SO rely on these features?

Could a site like Stack Overflow run on SQL Server Web? What aspects of maintenance and high availability would be impossible to achieve?

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migrated from Jan 25 '12 at 19:36

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

This is more a question about SQL Web edition than it is about Stack Overflow. I'm looking for the best place to migrate this to. – Bill the Lizard Jan 25 '12 at 19:29
It depends; it's hard to answer this without knowning exactly how Stack Overflow works internally. If StackOverflow uses HA Mirroring, Clustering, or PowerPivot For SharePoint (just kidding), then it'd be a lot harder. – vcsjones Jan 25 '12 at 19:35
Technically it probably could run on Web. But what are your expectations of failover, disaster recovery, data mining, etc? – vcsjones Jan 25 '12 at 19:39
Possibly check out this SO podcast which discusses some of their scaling problems. – jadarnel27 Jan 25 '12 at 20:54
The requirements for a multi-tenant solution for which a web edition licensing makes sense are usually completely different from what SO did and had to optimize for. Could a well designed, well executed and well tuned multi-tenant app with Web server licensing semantics run in Web Edition? Absolutely. Would a scale-up monolithic database like SO run on a Web edition server at high throughput? Possibly, but unlikely. – Remus Rusanu Jan 25 '12 at 22:14
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Considering that SO is one of the most highly visited sites in the world, it may not be the best site to compare against for a new venture.

That being said, SO, to my knowledge, has rolled their own solution in terms of scaling various aspects of the system, including caching just about everything that they can to remove as much load off of the database as possible. Most systems of the SO scale end up in this scenario because no off-the-shelf product or built-in scaleability feature fully meets the needs of these extremely-high-traffic sites.

So, while I wouldn't be very surprised if SQL Web couldn't handle high traffic loads, I would bet that the built-in scaleability pieces you get from other tiers of SQL Server will not, on their own, be enough to handle these sorts of extremely high loads. (hence why SO doesn't rely on them as their primary scale vector.)

Lastly, the business plan for any new venture that is concerned with a high potential to scale needs to also include a revenue stream that scales along with the business volume (whatever that may be).

So, if you scale in the volume of data your system has to hold and manage, does revenue scale with it? Likewise for number of users, or any other metric that will grow. If you find that you are not scaling your revenue as fast as the expense of scaling the combined metrics, you have issues to worry about.

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