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Ask HN: Hosting in the cloud
6 points by dstorrs on June 13, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 5 comments
Does anyone have experience with hosting a small dynamic site in the cloud as opposed to, say, a shared host like DreamHost or a VPS like Linode? What were the difficulties / advantages you encountered? Did it make the overall setup, maintenance, and development of the site easier or harder?

Based on the pricing for AWS et al, it's not cost-competitive to keep a cloud instance running 24/7, and I don't see any really significant advantages in development / maintenance. Until one of those things changes, the cloud looks more like a place where startups and small companies only store data and do short-term processing. (That likely changes when you get significant revenue / traffic, but that's a different set of problems.)

What exactly do you think "the cloud" is? Fundamentally, there isn't much of a different between AWS and Linode. Both are just virtual machines, but AWS attaches some fun buzzwords to them. If you want to run a virtual machine 24/7, you don't need virtual machines as powerful as AWS's minimum plans, and you don't have enough money to run them on AWS, why not do it on Linode (or Slicehost, Rackspace Cloud, etc. It's all the same.)

At least in this context, when I say "the cloud", I'm talking about a pay-as-you-go service that provides the ability to dynamically re-allocate processing and storage resources in accordance with demand.

I've tinkered a little with http://heroku.com/ and if Ruby is your thing it really is awesome, especially the setup and maintenance parts. The first few chapters of the tutorial at http://www.railstutorial.org/ are worth reading if you're not familiar.

My current project is on a Rackspace VM because I want more control to do unconventional things. It does need to reach a certain scale before is starts paying off though.

AWS is a bit more expensive but can be cheaper if you use the right size or number of machines. For example, run 25 machines during the day and less at night rather than buying enough hardware to meet peak demand.

Though there are some cool extras that come with AWS such as the ability to add EBS volumes, take S3 snapshots, etc. This can give you options that VPS or dedicated don't.

But a VPS is basically the same thing. I suggest you test out "cloud" instances and see how much load they support and then compare comparable hosting plans at various places based on cost and reliability.

We host 200 sites on a machine similar to an AWS small with more processor (2g ram with tons more processor - about 11 compute units but rarely hit 25%) Though io is 3-4 times as fast. Some of the sites are pretty active. If you just have a single small site, it would be way more than you need at this stage. Though a VPS would be great because you can get a feeling for how much power you need.

I've considered "cloudsites" from Rackspace but based on page loads, I think it would cost $450/month. That's a bit more expensive than running powerful collocated hardware...but nice since they manage it. It would be fun because they track your machine usage so you are motivated to write efficient code. Though I think it starts at $150.

I've played around with a few different services, but the things I use them for aren't very resource intensive. I use dreamhost shared hosting for my personal site and a few static sites I own. For my web apps, I use a small linode account. And for setting up test environments for clients, I just use Heroku since it's so darn easy for my rails apps.

It pretty much just comes down to personal preference and what you really want to do with the service. Just one suggestion though... Stay away from Godaddy's hosting. I had to setup a site for a client using their service, and it freakin' blows.

Good luck in your search!

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