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  1. #1

    * Seeking Managed Dedicated, 1Gbps, Level3 Peering, Good Support/Hardware

    Greetings everyone, what an excellent community you have here.

    I've been banging my head against the table for a day (and done sporadic research for months) as there are simply too many providers out there. Too many that at first seem good, until you find out they've got bad Peering agreements that ends up going over slow "transit" lines to the US, or shoddy support.

    I'm starting a small business that will need to host product downloads (trials, updates, full installers), a server daemon infrastructure, etc, and will thus need good hardware and reliability.

    However, I don't want the headaches of having to do manual security, OS patching, software updates, etcetera, even though I am capable of doing it. I need to focus on my business and can't afford to hire IT staff, so I am seeking a fully managed solution.

    For these reasons, I am seeking:

    1. Linux (distro doesn't matter, CentOS is fine)
    2. Fully Managed (OS Updates, Security, Optional Firewall (not required, usually adds big expense), Software Updates, Backups all automated by the hosting provider)
    3. Good Support (Response time at least < 1 day, good staff)
    4. Quad/Octo Core with 6+ GB of RAM (for good SQL in-memory performance and daemon hosting)
    5. Located in Europe (England, France or Netherlands), at one of the internet backbone nodes, with Peering to Level 3 so that I can cover the US, Europe and Asia on a single server
    6. Gigabit connection, with at least 1 TB of monthly bandwidth
    7. Virtualization (so that Apache/PHP, MySQL, Postfix, and my daemons can all run in separate, safe spaces), probably running something like VMware Server or some other solution (exact solution doesn't matter to me as long as it is stable)
    8. RAID 1 for double disk read performance, and redundancy in case of crashes (hard or soft RAID with mdadm doesn't matter much to me, hardware is preferred but often adds significant expense and mdadm doesn't consume that much CPU)
    9. Low disk space needs, I will get away with less than 10 Gb, so I don't need all of those "2 TB" disk setups, maybe some money can be saved this way
    10. Multiple physical IPs so that one server can handle multiple services and sites without having to resort to virtualhosts.


    I'm not in any hurry. Company is launching in 4 months and I will greatly appreciate any and all replies.

    I can't afford Rackspace.net price levels of $1000+ (and heck they overcharge for poor hardware, but have great support and infrastructure). I'm thinking a price cap of at most around $500/month, preferrably much less but quality service is more important than price. I will be operating at a loss during the first year of startup, but have a cache of about $40k for company expenses so I'm not strapped for cash. Of course I'd love to find a good host that has all or most of the above for around $300 but I know that's unlikely and will more likely end up in the $400-500 range. I'd be pleasantly surprised if anyone knows otherwise though.

    Big PS: I'd definitely consider being fully virtualized instead of managed dedicated, if the provider is good. What I mean by that is, some providers sell completely virtualized solutions with multiple cores and a good amount of RAM, where you don't lease a box, but rather "virtual machines" (I've seen some providers market these solutions as "cloud computing", but that's a bit of a misnomer). These have even better uptime since a server crash will simply mean that another server on their network will pick up your VM image and resume service immediately, and you don't have the hassle of having to configure any hardware setups, you simply get the VM with the CPU count, RAM and disk space you need. This can also lower prices a bit. The only problem is, most of the fully virtualized hosts offer a very low amount of RAM which will be terrible for in-memory SQL performance. Another problem is that not all of them allow me to run multiple VMs (I want to separate services to Apache/PHP, MySQL, Postfix, and my own server daemons, all running in separate VMs, which I can easily do with my own leased box with virtualization, but may not be possible when you lease a completely virtualized solution unless the provider specifically lets you launch multiple VMs for the different services, so keep that in mind).


    Thanks in advance to anyone that can help me navigate the maze of hosts out there.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    I agree it's hard finding a good provider these days, since more and more providers keep on popping up
    The only advice I can give you is doing your research and I'm sure you'll select a good provider.

    Here on the WHT forums you can find reviews from companies and also companies advertising. I suggest contacting a few, ask for some quotes and compare. Also check response times and don't only go for the 'low price', which a lot of people do.

    Best of luck!
    www.InstantDedicated.com - Online in no time
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Assuming that is 500 Euros, you might be in business. Otherwise, most likely, you will have to do some of the more secure management aspects.

    Perhaps check the offer's section to see what is out there.

    You mentioned Rackspace's price, but they give great support/infrastructure, that cost money. Where did you come with $500 budget?



  4. #4
    @ServerBoost: Thanks for the response. I've been trying to compare hosts for a very long time and am nearing my wits' end since they all have great promises but most of them turn out to fall flat when you do some research. I checked you out and absolute love what I'm seeing, insanely good peering and great hardware in the right European backbone location. You don't offer managed solutions though, which is a big seller for me. Each minute I spend doing OS updates, software updates, security and backups is a minute lost in software development or customer relations. I'm going to consider you as one of the absolute top candidates for regular hosting if I don't find a managed host for under $500.

    @FortressDewey: Hehe, why would you think $500 meant €500? €500 is around $720 which is a price level that starts to sting quite a bit. I'd like to keep it under $500 (even if I lose some of the features). The most important managed aspects for me would be the OS updates and software updates.

    I know that I could handle most/all of it myself:
    * OS Updates: downloading and compiling updated kernels
    * Software Updates: using "apt-get update" to keep server software updated
    * Backups: using some sync program to autosync my databases and files over to a backup FTP somewhere

    The thing is that when it comes to security, I'm not interested in the headaches of being up-to-date on 0day exploits, properly configuring everything to bolted-down standards, etc. That's a constantly-evolving field.

    I'd love a fully managed host that basically provides all customers with ready solutions, where they have automated everything on their end to auto-update the kernel and software, run backups, and auto-update config files to each server to a "secured gold standard", so that the server management part is out of my mind.

    The worst possible thing that can happen if I manage it myself? I'll lose development/customer relation time, and I'll wake up with a server breakin one day. Therefore I will only go for it as a last resort.

    Question that just occurred to me: I know that you can make a cron job to run backups automatically. Maybe it's also possible to set up cron jobs for the kernel and software update parts. If so, that only leaves security, and taking care of apache with things like mod_security wouldn't be much harder than reading a couple of good guides on bolting down everything nicely. If so, I'd be considerably more likely to go for unmanaged hosting. Thoughts? I just don't wanna be trapped as a server admin, when my time is better spent in development/customer relations. Edit: I just found ksplice.com which will keep your kernel auto-updated without reboots and charges a low $9.95 per month for a virtual machine license (which would cover all my virtualized services). Very nice. I also found that there are ways to run "apt-get update" in cron. Geeze. I hadn't thought of this before. That only leaves security configuration, and I could handle that quite quickly with some good guides. Err. Alright, I'm now considerably more likely to go for unmanaged, since it sounds like I won't have to spend much time as a server admin after all!
    Last edited by Messajah; 04-12-2011 at 05:28 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Messajah View Post
    I just don't wanna be trapped as a server admin, when my time is better spent in development/customer relations.
    You can always grab an unmanaged server and find a server admin. That's going to be your best bet.

    Don't fall for the "fully managed servers" or "managed servers" lie that datacenters throw out there, they're not so much 'managed' as they only tell half the story.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by linux-tech View Post
    You can always grab an unmanaged server and find a server admin. That's going to be your best bet.

    Don't fall for the "fully managed servers" or "managed servers" lie that datacenters throw out there, they're not so much 'managed' as they only tell half the story.
    Right, yeah I just realized something that I hadn't even thought about (see my prior post's last edit at the bottom): Kernel updates (without needing reboots if you use ksplice) and software updates can be automated, and that only leaves the final piece: locking down configuration files. And of course backups are a simple cron job. I suppose a lot of "managed" providers rely on these automated practices, makes sense. I didn't want to be stuck checking for kernel updates and software updates every day to stay secure, and hadn't realized that these auto-update possibilities even existed.

    Since it turned out I can automate kernel updates (with a cheap $9.95/mo ksplice license for rebootless updates on all of my virtual machines), a cron job for apt-get update, and a cron job for rsync or another backup solution, it turns out that all that remains is the configuration file lockdown, and that is quite easy with some of the top quality guides out there.

    It sounds like I can actually go for unmanaged and simply set up some cron jobs and voila, the only thing I'd have to do manually is "apt-get upgrade" (as opposed to update) for major software updates that happen very rarely.

    Yikes. This is a big relief. I had thought I'd be forced to do all of that work manually if I went for unmanaged, and that would have really killed my sanity quickly.

    Too bad I can't edit the first post (edit time of 15 minutes expired), or I'd remove the requirement for "fully managed". This also brings down prices a bit and can afford me better hardware/service, since the actual service of "managed hosting" usually added anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on provider, and that money can now be redirected to a host with great support, peering and hardware. I'm loving the hardware and multiple premium peering (Level3 being the most important) at ServerBoost and will be checking them and many others in the France/Netherlands/UK internet backbone area.
    Last edited by Messajah; 04-12-2011 at 05:48 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Toronto, Canada
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    5,158
    Have a look in the offer section, you will be able to find many providers, also mentioned that the server will be used for product downloads? How do you know you wont need more that 1TB of bandwidth per month?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by THAMAN View Post
    Have a look in the offer section, you will be able to find many providers, also mentioned that the server will be used for product downloads? How do you know you wont need more that 1TB of bandwidth per month?
    Right now, 1 terabyte should safely cover growth in downloads for at least the first 2 years.

    Installers/updaters will usually range around 10 megabytes each since my programs are pure C++ with a graphical UI stored in space-saving PNG format, which means that it doesn't take up much space compared to programs written in a managed .NET language with runtime bundled and all kinds of massive graphics and sound files (such installers are easily around 50-100mb). Therefore my installers can be kept small. Coincidentally, small installers is a great advantage since it means more people complete the download instead of aborting, particularly if they are on slower conncetions.

    Now let's see how far 1000 GB(1TB)/month gets me at 0.01 Gb (10mb) installers:
    1000/0.01 = supporting 100,000 trials/installers/updates per month.

    It will take around 2 years of growth to approach such a number.

    I just need an option of expanding the allotment later, and pretty much all hosts allow that.

    Thanks for your reply.

  9. #9
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    Why do you want the most up-to-date Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc. anyway? I've never updated them since over 1 year already, why fix what isn't broken? If there is a security exploit, I would definitely update but why update just for the sake of having the latest version?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by chasebug View Post
    Why do you want the most up-to-date Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc. anyway? I've never updated them since over 1 year already, why fix what isn't broken? If there is a security exploit, I would definitely update but why update just for the sake of having the latest version?
    That's a hilarious attitude you have there. Each and every version will contain security fixes, plugging potentially disastrous exploits. Feel free to look up the changelogs for the software you mentioned, and you will see fix after fix in each and every version.

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    I have quite a few servers and never updated them after initial installation and server hardening. I don't want to break what isn't broken and I see no need to since the servers are stable as it is. If there are high risk security exploits, of course I will update the software to plug it.

    Like with PHP, I doubt people are always updating to the latest version, they don't mess with what works.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Messajah View Post
    Big PS: I'd definitely consider being fully virtualized instead of managed dedicated, if the provider is good. What I mean by that is, some providers sell completely virtualized solutions with multiple cores and a good amount of RAM, where you don't lease a box, but rather "virtual machines" (I've seen some providers market these solutions as "cloud computing", but that's a bit of a misnomer). These have even better uptime since a server crash will simply mean that another server on their network will pick up your VM image and resume service immediately, and you don't have the hassle of having to configure any hardware setups, you simply get the VM with the CPU count, RAM and disk space you need. This can also lower prices a bit. The only problem is, most of the fully virtualized hosts offer a very low amount of RAM which will be terrible for in-memory SQL performance. Another problem is that not all of them allow me to run multiple VMs (I want to separate services to Apache/PHP, MySQL, Postfix, and my own server daemons, all running in separate VMs, which I can easily do with my own leased box with virtualization, but may not be possible when you lease a completely virtualized solution unless the provider specifically lets you launch multiple VMs for the different services, so keep that in mind).


    Thanks in advance to anyone that can help me navigate the maze of hosts out there.
    This is what i would recommend. If you are going to host all the VMs at 1 managed server with RAID1, you will probably run into IO problems. You will get extra management costs, as these are per VM most of the time. But your 500 dollars max. budget seems to cover this. I would recommend to make a shortlist of providers and search WHT and other forums for reviews. I'm sure you should be able to find a good provider with your budget. Good luck!
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasebug View Post
    Why do you want the most up-to-date Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc. anyway?
    It is very important to keep all applications up to date on a server.

    Quote Originally Posted by Messajah View Post
    However, I don't want the headaches of having to do manual security, OS patching, software updates, etcetera, even though I am capable of doing it. I need to focus on my business and can't afford to hire IT staff, so I am seeking a fully managed solution.
    Should not be a problem. I think you look for Proactive server management correct? reactive management will be cheaper, but Proactive management will give you more time to focus on your core business instead of on your server.
    Rackspace offers proactive management, but there are several other players in that market, that do not charge as much as rackspace, but still give the same service (or better) as rackspace.
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  14. #14
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    It is very important to keep all applications up to date on a server.
    But it is not needed if it does not fix any security holes.
    Often newer versions are incompatible with older scripts/software (MySQL 5.X/PHP5 and older OsCommerce versions for example) and Updating is useless.

    SO you dont *NEED* to update IMMEDIATELY after some new version comes out, usualy the new version will have MORE bugs than the older stable version (true for apache/php, not so true for mysql - they usualy run good)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDIS View Post
    But it is not needed if it does not fix any security holes.
    Security holes are not the only reason, for upgrading applications. Improved general security or better use of resources are also strong reasons for upgrades.
    Every sane management company has a test environment were they first roll out new versions of applications, test that for a period of time (defined by customers), before rolling them out on production servers.
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