Some beginner server/database questions

Discussion in 'Business & Enterprise Computing' started by jars121, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. jars121

    jars121 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,787
    Location:
    Sydney
    G'day everyone,

    I'm currently working through the technical requirements of a project I'm working on. I have little to no experience with servers, and only very minimal SQL experience with databases. Please bear with me :)

    I'm designing and developing a touchscreen information system. In a hypothetical 'installation', a client may have 50+ of these touchscreen systems installed. Each 'installation' would have a server, with the following primary functions:

    1. Host a database with all the required data for populating the touchscreen information systems
    2. A filesystem for serving all the required scripts and media for the touchscreen information systems (photos and videos)

    I will store the image/video file addresses in the database, rather than storing them directly in the DB as BLOBs.

    I would have a DDNS service established, as well as IP Address Management software installed on the server, to enable remote DB management.

    In theory, each of the touchscreen systems would run an instance of a script which is hosted by the central server. All touchscreen systems would run the same script, but with local properties/configuration.

    Both the touchscreen computers and the server will be running a Linux distro.

    Does this system layout make sense? For single installations in the past, I've contained all data management and hosting to the touchscreen computer, but for larger deployments, I'd rather have the scripts and media housed centrally, to make updates/upgrades/etc. more simple.

    If the above does make sense, do I need to look into hardcore servers, or can a fairly basic server do the job? I'm envisioning a tower server, with a basic RAID 1 setup and plenty of RAM.

    Any red flags in the above? Is there a 'best practise' way for achieving the functionality I'm striving for? The above makes sense to me, but I haven't yet done in-depth research into the validity of some of my statements.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
     
  2. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    13,873
    A Big red flag to me, is that it seems like you are trying to reinvent the wheel. Digital Signage and Kiosk style information display software already exists, what business problem does 'rolling your own' solve? that is otherwise not filled by any of the myriad of pre-made software packages available?
     
  3. Daemon

    Daemon Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    5,469
    Location:
    qld.au
    What you're probably looking for is an API style interface like REST. Put this on a hosted server (ie web / vps hosting) if you want reliability.

    Like PabloEscobar mentioned though, roll your own (especially without experience) is a potential disaster for whoever you're installing it for. The use of ipads and similar for kiosks is cheap and easy, especially with all of the 3rd party covers / enclosures designed exactly for this.
     
  4. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,313
    Location:
    Tweed/Gold Coast
    There are a few different solutions out there for this.
    Look into BrightSign, we are quite happy with it and I think it will do what you are after.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    jars121

    jars121 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,787
    Location:
    Sydney
    The system I'm building is far more involved than simply configuring an existing market solution. A keystone of my business model will be around customisation and optimisation, which is something I can't offer if I'm using an off-the-shelf product.

    As above, there isn't a market solution which achieves the functionality I'm striving for, nor does it align with my business model. I have experience with system design and implementation, it's just the distributed hosting and database requirements I'm unsure about.

    As above, the system itself is more involved than digital signage. I've looked into market options like BrightSign, and I wouldn't hesitate in using them if they fit the bill.

    Thanks everyone for your input!
     
  6. joe_sixpack

    joe_sixpack Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2002
    Messages:
    2,850
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Sounds like you need a technical business partner not advice on servers and databases from a computer forum.
     
  7. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    13,873
    What is your business model? What does it offer that is unique and different enough to justify a business taking the risk of going with an untried, untest product and person, when compared to the myriad of existing digital signage solutions out there.


    Distributed hosting and Database requirement are part of the whole "System design and implementation" that you have experience with.

    If you outlined more about what you are trying to achieve, we may be able to offer more help.

    The questions you have asked;

    "Does this layout make sense?"

    Without really describing your layout, You've mentioned some of the technology you intend on using, but nothing about how the parts will communicate, nor any details about what you actual goal is, it's hard to offer an educated opinion regarding the sense of your layout.

    If the above does make sense, do I need to look into hardcore servers, or can a fairly basic server do the job?

    Again, more info required.

    if you are going to stream HD video from your server, to 50 clients, then your system requirements will be drastically different from if you are pre-loading the videos onto the clients (ie. Just using it as a content server). Whats the rate of change of data required, what backups are required, how is the server connected to the clients, what is failure mode if the clients are unable to contact the server.

    Any red flags in the above?

    Depending on the answers to many of the questions above, Yes. You've got an idea, which to you seems great. But you've asked some questions, that without more information surrounding the use case, cannot be accurately answered. And if you can't ask the right questions, then a big red flag to me, would be, how can you have the right answers for my business.



    Describe the system to us? Pitch OCAU if you will. Because, so far, what you have described;

    Sounds a fuckton like a stack of off the shelf solutions for digital signage in information systems. Similar to what you would find in Visitor Information centers all over the world.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    jars121

    jars121 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,787
    Location:
    Sydney
    All very valid points mate, thanks again for your input.

    My choice of words in the OP probably wasn't the best. I've identified what I believe is a niche in a particular market, which is why I'm not putting too much detail into these posts. Given the posts above, I need to do more research.

    Thanks all :thumbup:
     
  9. PabloEscobar

    PabloEscobar Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Messages:
    13,873
    Therein lies the rub.
    If your posting on a public forum looking for free advice, then you need to part with some of your valuable information.

    The alternative is to pay someone for the advice, and have them sign an NDA so that nobody steals your idea.
     
  10. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    11,887
    Location:
    melbourne
    Sorry to threadcrap, but really, you shouldn't be giving people advice. Sort out your own backyard etc.

    Good luck with project jars; still shooting?
     
  11. OP
    OP
    jars121

    jars121 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,787
    Location:
    Sydney
    Cheers mate, much appreciated :thumbup:

    Yes and no; I'm flat out with work and side projects such as this, but the desire to be out and about shooting is still there. I've got a couple of good friends that have started to get into photography a bit more, so hopefully I can piggyback off their enthusiasm :leet:
     
  12. infiltraitor

    infiltraitor Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Messages:
    3,801
    Location:
    melbourne Donated:$133.70
    the specs of your server would have to change depending on the clients requirements.

    ie: 5 touchpad kiosks linking to the server for media may only need a basic server.
    50 touchpad kiosks linking to a server will need a much larger server capable of serving the media without lag etc.


    i would look at ways of making the updating simpler rather than leaving all the media on the server.
    have a copy on the server and when the kiosks boot up they check versions of the file and update as required.
    this way you are only transfering media files etc over the network once rather than constantly transfering data when the kiosks request
    an upside of this model is the network and server requirements are lower so you do not need to scale up the server with a larger deployment, rather you just stagger the booting of kiosks to reduce traffic :D
     
  13. OP
    OP
    jars121

    jars121 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2008
    Messages:
    1,787
    Location:
    Sydney
    I've spent most of this week reading, and this is more than likely the strategy I'm going to employ. I'm going to utilise an Amazon RDS to house all the required, with an Amazon S3 server for hosting all the required media and scripts. I'll programmatically check the database and media version numbers on boot up, so that the required scripts/data/files can be run locally, unless a new version has been uploaded to the AWS database/server. If a new version is available, the current local versions are deleted, the newer versions downloaded, and then run locally.
     

Share This Page

Advertisement: