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Tuning your infrastructure configuration

Important

The Infrastructure page is not available to environments running on the Acquia Cloud Next infrastructure.

Acquia’s mission is to provide subscribers with access to the best Drupal hosting platform in the world, while also recognizing the need to allow reasonable levels of customization. Acquia’s infrastructure tuning formulas provide a balance of stability, performance, and customization.

To understand infrastructure tuning, it is important to understand these key concepts:

  • PHP process - A PHP process is used whenever a page request reaches a web infrastructure. One PHP process is required for each page request.
  • Memcache - A system used to store Drupal’s cache tables in infrastructure memory, rather than on the hard drive. This is sometimes more performant than contacting MySQL for all data necessary to process a request.
  • Opcode cache - A PHP caching layer, OPcache, which speeds up code execution time by caching compiled PHP logic.
  • PHP memory - Memory reserved for a PHP process to store variables and use when computing.

For applications and environments running on an infrastructure with web, file system, and database operations sharing resources, Acquia tunes your infrastructure by default to allocate half of all available memory to the database and 200 MB of additional memory for the operating system. The remaining memory can be allocated among Memcache, opcode caching, and PHP.

For some Classic Cloud production environments on Cloud Platform Enterprise and Acquia Site Factory, as well as all environments on Acquia Cloud Next, dedicated resources are always assigned directly to each service to prevent resource contention: Drupal (Apache/PHP), Memcache, SSH, cron jobs, cloud hooks, file system, and database.

Applications and PHP processes

Acquia Cloud Platform infrastructure leverages Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure. The processing power of EC2 infrastructure is measured in units called Elastic Computing Units (ECUs) or Virtual Compute Units (vCPUs). As a general rule, it is best to run no more PHP processes per application on a Cloud Platform Professional infrastructure than three times the ECU of the infrastructure.

By default, Cloud Platform Professional systems provision each application with three environments: Development, Staging, and Production. This means an infrastructure running three applications must support nine total environments. While these environments will share some resources, like CPU and MySQL memory, as needed, other resources like PHP processes have per-environment and per-infrastructure limits which help ensure overall hosting stability. These limits cannot be modified to allocate more or fewer processes to a single environment.

Note

PHP process limits will be reduced infrastructure-wide if more environments are added to your Classic Cloud infrastructure, or if any memory limits (PHP, opcode cache, Memcache) are increased beyond their default values. As a result, we strongly recommend that subscribers carefully consider the impact of these changes to existing applications before making them.

When you are deciding how big an infrastructure you need to purchase on Cloud Platform Professional,, it is important to make sure that you will have at least one available PHP process per application. The more PHP processes an application is allocated, the greater the number of simultaneous page views your infrastructure can handle. When your infrastructure doesn’t have an available PHP process for a page request, Acquia Cloud Platform displays a 503 “Service Unavailable” error message to the visitor. On an Acquia-hosted application, the 503 error message appears similar to the following:

503 error page

Note

For information about how Cloud Platform handles HTTP 5xx status codes, see HTTP 5xx status codes on Cloud Platform

When a Drupal application receives a page request, but there are no PHP processes available or able to be spawned to handle it immediately, the application may throw a “Max children reached” warning and waits for a process to become available. After a while, the application stops waiting to handle any such requests and the request fails with a “Temporarily Unavailable” message.

If your application returns frequent HTTP 503 status codes caused by long PHP queue wait times, you have two primary options for increasing the number of available PHP processes:

  • Optimize the code running the application
  • Purchase more infrastructure capacity

While purchasing more infrastructure is an immediate solution, there are circumstances where inefficiencies in the application code prevent additional infrastructure from yielding benefits. It is always a good idea to attempt to optimize an application, even if you wind up purchasing more cloud capacity. For more information about optimizing your applications, see Improving application performance.