Online Hosting for your Community Edition

Online Hosting for your Community Edition

  
Hi all,

This is a LIVE guide for how to cheaply and easily host your own Community Edition.
Share your setup below and I'll update this post to serve as a TOC for the best (bang for buck), cheapest and easiest solutions.

Here are some of the criteria I'll be using for comparison:
  1. Price / Month
  2. Setup difficulty (Mom | Standard Issued Human | Web Developer | Eric Oud Ammerveld)
  3. Hardware Specs (CPU, RAM, Disk)
  4. Other niceties (support for backup / snapshots)

Best Hosting

  • Contabo VPS L (signing up for 12 months removes the setup cost -> 21,98€/month)

Cheapest hosting

  • Contabo VPS M (signing up for 12 months removes the setup cost -> 16,99€/month)
  • Strato Spain (April promotion: signing up for 12 months gets you the first 3 months for free -> 9,99€/month wo/ VAT)

Easiest hosting

Waiting for submissions... 

Hi Guys,

Here is my solution; probably for Small and Medium Business setup but with easy scalable
functionality for Windows servers and Windows Desktop / Linux / Android etc.
Also a good speed, good backup and snapshotting functionality.

Hardware

1 x NAS - Synology DS-412+ (€535)
     Supporting both NFS and iSCSI and works great with VMWare
     Upgraded to 4Gb RAM (non-official)
4 x 2 TB Harddisk in Hybrid Raid setup (Sort of RAID 5) (€110 x 4) (€440)
1 x Gigabit switch(€25)
1 x Heavy Desktop machine (€600)
     Intel mainboard preferred
     Intel multicore (i5 quadcore in my case)
     Separate VMWare ESXi supported Network Interface Card (Check for HP / Intel / Dell)
     Stacked with a lot of RAM! (16 Gb in mine)
     If speedup needed stack a 128 Gb Solid State Disk for caching / performance increase (€100)
1 x Usb Stick 4 Gb; Running the VMWare ESXi Hypervisor 5.1 on this machine (€10)

Existing Internet connection (50 Mbit Fiber)

Software

- VMware ESXi 5.1 Hypervisor
  Providing snapshotting / Easy cloning and Multi-Server on only one PC.
  Create Thin Harddisk space so your backups will take-up a minimum.
- 3 x Windows 2003 SB Server (Buy OEM versions with your mainboard / other hardware!)
- 1 x Windows 7 machine
- 1 x Windows 8 machine
- 1 x Android x86 (Live CD)
- 3 x Linux Ubuntu / Debian (Mailserver, Separate Webserver, Guacamole)
- NGINX HTTP Proxy Linux Ubuntu 12.10 (Use a proxy server like NGINX to maintain your internal domains and to support hosting of multiple domains and redirecting local on just one HTTP port)
- Guacamole Linux Ubuntu 12.10 (Use this to quickly connect web-based to your server; 100% HTML5 and AJAX - RDP / VNC connection)

Backup

You could schedule backups using the Synology Software (RSYNC) or Onliny through Third Party software Synology also provides.
I've setup a small HP Terminal for both Proxy and Backup, flashed the 2Gb internal memory with Ubuntu 12.10 and put an NFS server on it.
It has an external harddisk of 1 Tb plugged in.
I've got a scheduled job ghettoVCB running at night that makes daily snapshots of my VM's and backs-up my VM Snapshots without interfering the running environment. I can go back a full week, and to the start of 2 months.
The backup of 8 VM's takes about 3,5 hours but goes by unnoticed since the environment has enough bandwidth and enough CPU power and memory.
Ofcourse another cheap solution would be a router that Supports NFS.

Moving to Enterprise

Since VMWare is pretty wide accepted and the Enterprise version has the same file structure upgrading would be pretty straight forward.

Extra costs

Power consumption is something that might differ and since I don't monitor the consumption of the devices I don't have a direct estimate for that.
Using green disks would decrease that cost.

Post a message if you want more info.
Wow Eric, lots of planning going on over there.
A bit away from "cheaply and easily" though. :)

Here's my contribution: Contabo VPS L
  1. Price / Month: 16.99€ + 4.99€ (for Windows 2008 R2)
  2. Setup difficulty: Standard Issued Human
    Order the VPS online and wait (up to 3 days) for them to get the machine online (you'll get an email with the machine IP and Administration credentials);
    Open a Remote Desktop connection to your new machine and there download and install the agile platform.
    If you don't feel like using Service Studio over Remote Desktop, install Service Studio locally and connect to your VPS using its IP address.
  3. Hardware Specs:
    VPS with 2 CPU / 8GB RAM / 400GB
  4. Other niceties: not sure yet (still exploring).
I also tested VPS M (1 CPU / 4GB RAM / 200GB) but found it a bit slugish.
That one would cost around 9.99€ + 4.99€ (for Windows).

The cool thing about VPS L is that if we setup the Java stack (it has enough RAM for it!!) we save up the Windows licensing cost of 4,99€ and get a nifty environment for 16.99€ / month.

All in all a big bang for the buck!
Davide Marquês wrote:
Wow Eric, lots of planning going on over there.
A bit away from "cheaply and easily" though. :)
It's kind of how you look at it.
I mean I have 8 servers running, can modify my number of CPU's any time and have a load of free space and potential functionality.
Besides there is a secure 1 Gigabit unlimited connection between the hosts.

Concerning the 'cheap' If I'd calculate my hardware total, I get around € 1710 which is a one-time investment that I expect to last for around 5 years.
I need an at home internet connection anyway so I'm not taking that into account; it's around € 60 a month for 50 Mbit up and download speed.
There are special 'Microsoft Developer' licenses for a very limited fee; not sure how much that is.
Say my yearly power consumption costs are around €400.
The totals would be €2110 then.

If I would want the equivalent in a VPS I'd spend a month
5 x Windows      = €110
3 x Linux            = €51
1 x Android VM  = €17
-----------------------------
€ 178,-

The year fee would then be € 2136,-
This means I'm break-even in around one year and will only have the power costs for the rest of the remaining years.
Saving me in five years current cost € 3710; hosted cost € 10.680 = € 6.970
So as you can see; I'm dutch. ;)

The needed 'expertise' might be a challenge for some but it's running since I have VMWare Server GSX
and besides an upgrade now-and-then there is very little maintenance to it mainly thanks to iSCSI en Synology.
A NAS can also be very useful for Home use (e.g. stacking Movies / Music)
I can expand my server count without any extra fee and I have full control over the system by the VMWare ESXi monitors (I/O, Memory, CPU, Network etc).
I have centralized logging thanks to the nas and Syslogd.
And because the set-up is pretty simple in case of emergency I am able to 'recover' within a very short time.

Disaster recovery
Fysical System Crash -> New machine with ESXi support network interface / Trade it because of guarantee and I'm up and running again.
NAS Crash -> Buy a new NAS / Trade it because of guarantee, Plugin the disks and I'm up and running again.
Disk Crash -> Buy a new disk / Trade it because of guarantee and plug it in; the Synology nas will do the rest.
Flood of NL -> No problem since my server is at the attic. My backup is downstairs though so that will be screwed.

Anyway; as you might see this geeky investment has proven to be the 'cheapest' and most 'agile' method to me or at least the best investment.
I can imagine any SMB that want's to grow and doesn't want the costs to grow with them but stay agile / flexible would benifit by a comparible set-up.
Well, you seem to have most things covered :)

While I get that using a hoster is more expensive, there are a number of things you supposedly get that should give you some piece of mind.


Suppose you have a fire in your house, or a flood, or something that prevents you to use it for a few days...

In services like Azure or Amazon Elastic Computing, you do pay more, but "your servers" are protected even from things like that and if they do happen, someone else has to fix the problem :)

Or, as in all things, it's a trade-off.

Eric Oud Ammerveld (Running PS version 7.0.1.7) wrote:
Davide Marquês wrote:
Wow Eric, lots of planning going on over there.
A bit away from "cheaply and easily" though. :)
It's kind of how you look at it.
I mean I have 8 servers running, can modify my number of CPU's any time and have a load of free space and potential functionality.
Besides there is a secure 1 Gigabit unlimited connection between the hosts.

Concerning the 'cheap' If I'd calculate my hardware total, I get around € 1710 which is a one-time investment that I expect to last for around 5 years.
I need an at home internet connection anyway so I'm not taking that into account; it's around € 60 a month for 50 Mbit up and download speed.
There are special 'Microsoft Developer' licenses for a very limited fee; not sure how much that is.
Say my yearly power consumption costs are around €400.
The totals would be €2110 then.

If I would want the equivalent in a VPS I'd spend a month
5 x Windows      = €110
3 x Linux            = €51
1 x Android VM  = €17
-----------------------------
€ 178,-

The year fee would then be € 2136,-
This means I'm break-even in around one year and will only have the power costs for the rest of the remaining years.
Saving me in five years current cost € 3710; hosted cost € 10.680 = € 6.970
So as you can see; I'm dutch. ;)

The needed 'expertise' might be a challenge for some but it's running since I have VMWare Server GSX
and besides an upgrade now-and-then there is very little maintenance to it mainly thanks to iSCSI en Synology.
A NAS can also be very useful for Home use (e.g. stacking Movies / Music)
I can expand my server count without any extra fee and I have full control over the system by the VMWare ESXi monitors (I/O, Memory, CPU, Network etc).
I have centralized logging thanks to the nas and Syslogd.
And because the set-up is pretty simple in case of emergency I am able to 'recover' within a very short time.

Disaster recovery
Fysical System Crash -> New machine with ESXi support network interface / Trade it because of guarantee and I'm up and running again.
NAS Crash -> Buy a new NAS / Trade it because of guarantee, Plugin the disks and I'm up and running again.
Disk Crash -> Buy a new disk / Trade it because of guarantee and plug it in; the Synology nas will do the rest.
Flood of NL -> No problem since my server is at the attic. My backup is downstairs though so that will be screwed.

Anyway; as you might see this geeky investment has proven to be the 'cheapest' and most 'agile' method to me or at least the best investment.
I can imagine any SMB that want's to grow and doesn't want the costs to grow with them but stay agile / flexible would benifit by a comparible set-up.
 
 
Carlos Ribeiro da Fonseca wrote:
Well, you seem to have most things covered :)

While I get that using a hoster is more expensive, there are a number of things you supposedly get that should give you some piece of mind.


Suppose you have a fire in your house, or a flood, or something that prevents you to use it for a few days...

In services like Azure or Amazon Elastic Computing, you do pay more, but "your servers" are protected even from things like that and if they do happen, someone else has to fix the problem :)

Or, as in all things, it's a trade-off.
Hi Carlos,

I agree with you; it wouldn't cover me in worst case scenario.

Catastrophe
Should that scenario happen though, I can assure you that my priority
won't be my servers or any of the information on it.

Every 1/2 year my house isn't burnt down or flooded I plug in a disk to 'save' just my personal
photo's in that case because that is the main and only important thing really worth saving.
That disk is stored airtight at a remote location.
Most applications I have developed for customers are running fine on their own systems.
Most of my customers are larger companies than me and have a worse backup plan.

Security
For as far as my 'security knowledge' reaches I know I'm pretty safe; hiding
my servers behind a proxy from which each movement is 100% monitored.
When my data is in the cloud the government might see it and it might be
cloned without my knowledge.
The cloud to hackers is a much more interesting target than my servers at home.

I merely anticipated on the following question: What do you think has the highest chance of ever occurring?
- A hacker / thief breaking in
- A full flood (at least 6 meters high) or a total fire burn of the house
Hi,

I've been using the VPS M for a month or so... and it is totally working for me! I only have small personal apps there, so it works perfectly to access them in the road via my smartphone. For the 15€ it is just awesome...

Davide Marquês wrote:
I also tested VPS M (1 CPU / 4GB RAM / 200GB) but found it a bit slugish.
That one would cost around 9.99€ + 4.99€ (for Windows).
...
All in all a big bang for the buck!
 
 
Home Alternatives

Another alternative for a cheap home server which is VMWare ESXi compatible is the HP n40l Microserver.

Here in the UK they've been on promotion for over a year now and after cashback come in at under £120.

I've yet to set up a Community Edition at home but it's on my to-do list.

Cloud Alternatives

I'm not sure how well it would run all the pre-requesits for the community edition however if you've not used it you can get a year of free Amazon AWS which includes 750hours/month on a Windows Micro Instance. Not sure of performance but something worth investigating.

Additionally if you happen to have a Microsoft MSDN subscription you can also get a free subscription to Microsoft Azure with enough hours per month to run a Windows VM. Also worth investigating?

If I get chance I'll have a look at trying out all these options and report back.
Actually scrap the Amazon AWS free tier subscription, a Micro instance would be too underpowered.

The free subscription via MSDN with Azure is worth investigating as you can run larger instances (but won't be able to have them on 100% of the time for the full month) if you're purely testing or developing rather than hosting.
Quick update: the Contabo setup fee of 29.99€ is back.
About that Contabo, how long have you used it? Because under the former name they weren't very well recommended, but I found no recent complaints(people like it or no one is giving them a chance?). And precisely because of the setup fee I think it isn't worth a small test. Should I jump for six months or better be caucious?
Hi Nuno,

I signed up this month to VPS M and L to try them out.
I'll stick to the VPS L since for 8Gb of RAM it's dirty cheap (haven't come across any similar offering with that much RAM).

I can send you/others a private message with the access credentials to the VPS M if you'd like to check it out (it will expire on the end of the week anyway). :)
Thanks to Davide I could try the VPS M for some time.

Service Studio 7 worked fine.
I've downloaded and published the Campaigns eSpace. Normal time and performance.
I've published the 5.0 version of RichWidgets solution. Took almost 6 minutes with all the upgrades needed.

The processor was ok. With Studio open and browsing at localhost between ServiceCenter and Campaigns, the processor in an average 5 minutes period would go once above the 50% and less than 10 times above 10%. Never approached 100%.
I've created an action that called itself infinitely to test deadlocks and transactions. The server handled it better than I expected for such a weak configuration.
Pagefile (2GB) stayed below 1,5GB in maximum work and after reboot with all running was around 900MB.

Obviously, the merit goes to the software. Staying so far from 100% in all fields means it doesn't saturate the resources.

The dev server at my company is very similar and the comparison was easy. Having the SQL locally is the main difference and can be an issue depending on what you want from you CE. As expected, the remote desktop connection is not as fast as in an intranet and browsing it from a different machine is not immediate, but those were the only problems.

It has a performance similar to an average home pc. I was satisfied with it and rented one for my project.
Hi you all!

I've tried the VPS from WebKeepers.com, the price is very low ($6.99 1GB Ram), but the problem is the Pagefile. It's not possible to use Pagefile, as it seen that's a limitation from their VPS structure. Without the pagefile it starts to thrown out-of-memory exception after reaching the max memory. I've also tried the 2 GB VPS but that too it's not enough.

So I switch to Contabo (VPS M), the price is good and if you extend the duration, you pay less or even get the setup for free. In a 6 month contract you only pay €9.99.


Take a look at Strato.nl http://www.strato.nl/server/virtual-server/ only €12,90 per month
1Gb RAM, 30Gb Disk

I'm running Community Edition v7 on it ....


STRATO Europa
Thanks Joop!
I've added STRATO to the "Cheapest hosting" list (strato.es has a cool April promotion).

Keep them coming! :)
No setup fees on Contabo for the next 10 days:
http://blog.contabo.com/company/happy-birthday-contabo-contabo-celebrates-its-10th-birthday/

In the meanwhile... has anyone come across other contenders? :)
Another two entrants: I'm requesting a SOMEE server for testing right now and will post back the results during the week.
In case someone is still looking for hosting, Contabo cutted the prices in about 20%.

               3.2GHz Proc.   RAM    Disk    Price (Linux)
VPS-M    1 core              4GB    200GB      7,99€
VPS-L     2 cores            8GB    400GB    13,99€
VPS-XL   6 cores          16GB    800GB    25,99€

+4.99€ for Windows

I've been using it for a year now (just renewed for 12 more months this morning), and never had problems. I'll probably get another one soon.