Thursday, May 1, 2008

How many Kiosk Viewing Stations (KVSs) can Photo Parata support?

Hi folks, a question that comes up often is:

How many Kiosk Viewing Stations (KVSs) can Photo Parata support?

As you know Photo Parata is a program that is all about shares images (files) between a server and multiple clients. Initially I thought of solving the problem with Windows file sharing, than the using a web server revealed itself to be a far better solution.

The core designed of any web server is to provide content to many clients as possible. Theoretically a web server can service tens of thousands of clients at one time. Web servers are also designed to provide content in a read only manner. This is exactly what the doctor called for with event photography software, we want to distribute images quickly, but in a fashion that does not allow the user to alter the images.

Compare this to Window file sharing. File sharing is designed for multiple users to share the same file, all the users normally need read and write access to the files along with the ability to create folders, delete, rename, etc. Basically a lot more functionality that what is needed to display some images on KVS. That extra functionality does come with a price: There is a higher security risk, if it isn't setup correctly someone could get to the network and steal the files (images) and it take more computing power.

With this, I knew that using a web server to distribute the images, I was making a bit more work for myself, but I was starting with a core delivery system that was very fast, faster then the alternative. I knew that if there was going to be a real performance issue, it was not going to be hardware related, operating system related, or related to the core delivery system (the web server), it would be my code. If it is in my code, I can fix it!

This actually happened, in an earlier version I had reports that my system was running too slow under a load of 16 viewing stations. It took me a bit of digging but I finally figured it out and sure it enough, it was my code, and because it was, it is fixed now!

One of the customers that reported the problem now happily runs Photo Parata with 32 KVS, here is a thread he replied to where he posted an image of Photo Parata running the 32 viewing stations.

The same customer, and another talked again just the other day about Photo Parata's speed under load on Sports Shooter.

So how many viewing stations can Photo Parata handle? I know it runs 32 just fine on a Pentium IV, but I don't know the limit. Because it uses a web server, not file sharing, I am guessing it can easily handle 200+ viewing stations on a modern server.