> The bottom line is that $10-$80 is perfectly fine for an unmonitored monolithic setup. But once you need to start talking SLAs and need to know this thing will be rock solid and survive random failures… well costs start mounting.
I've run sites that do tens or hundreds of thousands of uniques a week with base-level VPSes like Linode or DO, spending just $10-20/mo on it. But if you require high availability or must meet strict SLAs, you start hitting the Pareto principle pretty hard. You end up needing to pay a lot for that increased certainty, even if you are only squeezing a few more minutes of uptime or flexibility out of it.
There have been multiple outages that nobody noticed, some of them hours long. Usually the backend is the one to fail, so more than 90% of end user page loads are straight from RAM nearly all the time. And it costs $20/month or so.
Then, you can colocate it for $200 per month or less, with a huge amount of bandwidth included. And $200 is not the much-cheaper colos that are out there, so it is on the high side.
HA? Buy a second one and mirror in a different DC.
HA config via this method: $6k servers + $2k disk + $400/month colo. First year: $12,800 (still cheaper than AWS). Second and third year: $4800 per year.
AWS is not the solution for every task.
For self-hosting/personal stuff? Sure, EC2 is not cost effective. But you've just described a pretty powerful server for self-hosting, and you've left out a decent chunk of context around the considerations that go in to deploying HA, web-facing architecture.
Easier than AWS, that's for sure. Getting HA to actually work in AWS is a nightmare of proprietary configuration and obscure documentation. Hardware-in-a-DC HA has been around approximately forever, and there is far more documentation available on the hundreds of ways to get it working rock-solid... all without vendor lock-in.
You finding it hard != is hard
>Getting HA to actually work in AWS is a nightmare of proprietary configuration and obscure documentation
Strange. I have no problem with it. Most of my peers don't either. There is waaay worse documentation than AWS.
>Hardware-in-a-DC HA has been around approximately forever, and there is far more documentation available on the hundreds of ways to get it working rock-solid... all without vendor lock-in.
If you could point me to all this documentation you speak of that guarantees a "rock-solid" co-lo experience...
As for rock solid colo docs- there is this thing called Google. And in fact you barely need that. It's real easy to set up.
I think you've confused what "facts" are...
Doesn't matter. I guess some people are just destined to remain rack 'n stack sysadmins. Fine, more money and less competition for jobs then.
>As for rock solid colo docs- there is this thing called Google. And in fact you barely need that. It's real easy to set up.
I think you misunderstood my point. I know there are a thousand-and-one guides for setting up Nagios and Postfix and sticking HAProxy in front of it, but my point was that no amount of documentation can abstract away the actual pain points of dealing with co-los, including their owners, staff, and all the fun little problems that crop up with dealing with them.
For when it actually matters beyond a dollar value, I trust AWS engineers a lot more than I do HPE/Equinix etc...
For businesses with healthy margins, there's a clear tradeoff between cloud costs and opportunity costs. If you've got SLAs to honour and a lot of high-RoI engineering tasks in the queue, throwing a bunch of cloud resources at the problem might make perfect sense.
AWS isn't the solution for every task, but that doesn't make it a bad solution. The obvious parallel would be with Discourse's business model. Their product is completely free and open source, so there's nothing stopping you from running their software on a DO droplet, a colocated server or a Raspberry Pi attached to your home router. They have plenty of customers who are happy to pay $100/$300/POA for a managed deployment.
Exactly but many people don't need that.
And of course doing HA / load-balancing across data-centers is hard. Ideally you'd use haproxy to route traffic to two distinct backends - but if the proxy is down your traffic gets lost. Simpler solutions are possible, but to do it properly would require your own IP ranges/BGP etc.
(Some people use static sites and use DNS for failover, but I think we all agree that's a terrible solution.)
Any cost effective solutions for dealing with bursty demand for compute and networking that aren't AWS?
It's my opinion that memory bandwidth is a contributing factor to how well interpreted languages (Discourse runs on Ruby) perform. Since the hardware is dedicated, all available memory bandwidth can be used; on AWS you (may) share memory bandwidth between all VMs on the physical hardware.
WholesaleInternet.com I have used for their dedicated servers, but they also have inexpensive colo. The guys at HandyNetworks.com currently have some colo of mine, they have good quality hands-on help (their office is right beside their colo); they are more expensive however.
Check with WebHostingTalk.com and look for good reviews. Warning: always deal with either the owner/tenant of the colo or no more than 1 step removed; you don't want to be renting space from a reseller of a reseller: if someone in the chain goes under and hasn't paid for a few months, it will be a nightmare for billing and you may have trouble getting your hardware either turned on, or returned.
I've seen some enthusiasm around Discourse but for users who are used to the look & feel of a traditional discussion forum or the workflow of vBulletin, it can be very jarring. I believe there was a decent community split when Ubuntu tried to retire their legacy vBulletin forum in favor of Discourse; I think they are still running both side by side with almost different groups using them. XenForo is a more natural progression from vBulletin and would be my platform of choice.
Not sure about the state of open source forum scripts, though I don't recall phpBB/SMF/MyBB being replaced by anything else in that market recently.
But personally, I'd recommend XenForo. It's what most of the sites I run use (see Wario Forums for an example), and it's what many sites I'm a member/volunteer on use too (like The Admin Zone or Gaming Latest). Lots of choices for themes and mods there, it's pretty fully featured as far as basic options are concerned and the media gallery/resource manager work well too.
The fact many members weren't too keen on the other solutions I suggested helped too.
But yeah, XenForo is my recommendation.
and looks & works a bit like Discourse, + also Slack chat features (no mobile app though) and StackOverflow style question-answers. Open source.
The user does hardly any config, really has no idea how it works, which could make diagnosing and troubleshooting issues that crop up problematic.
I really wonder where the line goes between a decent VPS (properly provisioned and configured to handle traffic) and AWS?
* are averse to the kind of risk that comes with being tied to a smaller provider, and/or
* are not averse to the kind of risk that comes with being tied to a provider who cares not one whit for your well-being because your business is insignificant to them, and/or
* actually have a use for, and staff with the expertise to take advantage of, any of the million proprietary bells and whistles that AWS provides, and
* are not averse to absolutely abysmal UX.
Discourse falls mostly into category 3 above; as Sam enumerates they are taking advantage of a bunch of various AWS offerings and have split off several of their supporting services onto their own instances. Those things can be built up gradually; you don't just wake up one day and decide to become "Enterprise" and watch all your costs increase by two orders of magnitude.
And for something like Discourse, well a cheap Digital Ocean VPS or something would work quite well for most people and sites. Most aren't active enough to put any real pressure on a hosting account.
>Note it is important to have full perspective on costs here...
All too often I see the "AWS is too expensive" circlejerk devolve into a flat cost argument.
It is absolutely more expensive in that regard.
That being said, I see very few comparisons that take in to account all of the engineering effort saved by some of the AWS feature set.
There are non-trivial things that simply aren't a problem anymore on AWS, and time can be spent on actually interesting/difficult problems.
And really there are very few hints that are non-trivial and not a problem on non-AWS either.
In the end, AWS is still more expensive time and money wise, it's just a question of whether it's worth it and what you want to spend your time on. (For me, spending it on the AWSy things is not interesting)