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  1. #1

    High Quality SQL Server hosting needed

    Hi, I hope we are in the correct area if not can someone tell us where to post.

    This post might be long, but we want to make sure that we tell all information and question we had in one post.

    We have short term goals and long term. I will start with the short.

    We (David and I) are looking to be resellers, BUT we do not want a hosting plan that allows overselling. Ethically we do not believe in selling space that others are paying for to another client just so we can make more money. If we say that you have 10GB allocated, you have 10GB allocated. We would also like that respect in return. In other words, if a hosting provider that we go with, if we are paying for 10GB we are allocated to the full 10GB. (space and bandwith)

    I know our needs are not the norm, but what type of hosting service should we look for? I am coming to the conclusion that we are not looking for shared hosting. It is not in our budget to have a dedicated server at this time. Should we be looking for VPS or Cloud?

    Our specific needs now are:

    Windows Platform 2008 (r2?)
    SQL Server 2008r2
    ASP.NET 4
    .NET 4.0
    IIS27or 7.5
    Silverlight
    AJAX
    possible jQuery (could refernce to Google if not on server)

    We will be using 3/4 of the space that would be in our hosting plan to resell allocated space to our customers.

    We will be using the other 1/4 for our own different business.

    This leads us up to our long term goals.

    We are starting a small business that builds custom applications to small business with approx 20 or less users per client. Company's that cannot afford a full time IT dept. I am a SQL Server DBA/Progammer and a .NET developer.

    We will be phasing out the focus of reselling in favor of custom applications to small businesses.

    Can someone point us to the right provider? One who will work with us and help with tech support.

    We believe in quality over quantity. We are looking to build a reputation of quality and reliable service.

    Any and all advice is welcome.

    Thank you
    Christi and David

  2. #2
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    Well, VPS might be the right solution for you so that you can customize things as per your requirement. If you are looking for HA server with failover, you can consider cloud but you'll need to have very good amount of budget for it. I'll possibly suggest getting a VPS with robust backup solution (like R1Soft CDP). Also, I believe you are looking for managed solution? Do you have budget / specs in mind? Any preference for location?
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  3. #3
    Well .. Looking at your requirements , A Fully Managed Cloud based windows VPS would be the right option where you will get the support as well as other value added services by the provider.

  4. #4
    Well do you have budget for this VPS , as well as the location of the data center where exactly you want the VPS to be hosted. As E-Admins Said a Fully Managed Windows VPS would be the right option for you. Looking at your other requirements , getting a clustered VPS would be more powerful option. Ofcourse robust backup solutions like R1soft should be there too.
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  5. #5
    We are new to hosting, so I can only say what we would like, we do have in our budget for VPS, but do not know how much control we have over it. If for our applications need a third party software add on we would like to be able to install.

    We pretty much know nothing about hosting and reselling and would like to know what we need to look out for.

    We live in Southern CA (USA) so we would like our servers in USA.

    We would like to start small and grow into our business with the knowledge and experience we obtain.

    What is managed solution? Also, what is the difference between Cloud and VPS?

  6. #6
    Well the concept managed have many things included and the concept varies as per the providers. When you get a managed VPS , some providers assist you with Server security , patching , installations,Backup , support part. There are some providers who go beyond what I have mentioned above and manage the whole server as well as support the issues that are being occurred on hosted things on the server itself.
    Eminds Infotech
    5 Yrs.Of Excellent Support Services.
    Assisting World's Leading Data Centers
    info@emindsinfotech.com

  7. #7
    To get more info on VPS and Cloud and their difference , refer to this thread and you may get a nice idea.

    http://www.webhostingtalk.com/showthread.php?t=1057089
    Eminds Infotech
    5 Yrs.Of Excellent Support Services.
    Assisting World's Leading Data Centers
    info@emindsinfotech.com

  8. #8
    Thank you eNetCloud.

    I will take a look. Thanks for the help, again we are new and do not want to be taken advantage of. I just came from a really bad service that had awful customer support. Do not want to go through that again. As the saying goes "Fool me once..."

  9. #9
    Hi, I'm the David that Christi was referring to. I have more of a background in SEO, SEM and E-Commerce marketing; Christi is used to having an in house server being managed for her although she does have some experience as a DBM, she's more of a DBA/Programmer/Developer. We're really looking to focus on value added hosting... web design and integrated database applications for small businesses. I'm not sure about our billing or web panel requirements as we may be handling all that for our customers in an inclusive price/package. We're still doing our research and business plan formation. Thanks everyone for the input, we still haven't decided on our price range... the minimum for what we need to immediately start, but depending on the project size of our clients it could vary greatly I imagine. We did pick up a basic reseller plan for a month already ($20 for 20 2008 r2 databases and 20 domains/aliases) but were really unhappy with the quality of support provided (possible language barrier problems... although they were based in Texas)

    We could scale up our budget if need be (probably), but are trying to minimize capital outlay in the begining while we work out the bugs.

    Thanks, David

  10. #10
    On VPS hosting, do we install SQL Server ourselves? The .NET framework? Or if installed do we need our own license? IIS?

    What about webMatrix? Can that be used on VPS?

  11. #11
    Well if you with Managed VPS .. while placing the order just mention your requirements and the provider will take care of it. If you other customized requirement you should mention them to provider and you should receive the services accordingly.
    Eminds Infotech
    5 Yrs.Of Excellent Support Services.
    Assisting World's Leading Data Centers
    info@emindsinfotech.com

  12. #12
    We have found our top 3 providers that we are going to examine and search reviews. Then contact the provider that we are thinking of going with.

    How do we search on WHT for reviews to these providers (what are the search parameters) I have done a search, but the results are mostly what threads that they are posting in. Their answers help narrow our choices. But we would like to see clients reviews (whether current for former) We are also searching through google etc.

    The deal breaker for us is the overselling as we do not want to pass that along to our clients. Plus we do not want our clients overselling. We also looking at starting small to get our feet wet and learn the in's and out's with working with hosting providers.

  13. #13
    Yes... we are probably going to start with a solid reseller package right now... but really have our eye on managed VPS or a dedicated server in the future (hopefully not too far). Our budget looks like it's going to be in the $40/mo range, give or take for starters, but are looking to plan for even multiple dedicated servers when we need them in the future (something we would offer to clients should they need them).

  14. #14
    While we don't need anyone to hold our hand, we would like a competent hosting provider that can help us or point us in the right direction.

    We are doing as much research as we can, but there is so much we need to know and absorb.

  15. #15
    To give an example of our long term goal go to: oakhosting.net
    We would be using a windows platform and also offer custom business applications.

    Has anyone heard of such a plan on Windows?
    Should I contact their host providers?
    I am going to contact them about how they go about their business in terms of advertising offline (BBB, Chamber of Commerce etc)
    If you as a hosting provider and can meet our needs please let us know.

    Thanks
    Christi

  16. #16
    We have reached 20 of the 3 and still have a few questions.

    I have read about bandwidth and how to calculate what we should need. (it's actually a crap shot as we don't know how our clients will go within their limits)

    I did not see anything about how we should plan for RAM. What is the formula?

    We have decided to go with a managed VPS to get our feet wet, so to speak, and grow with that. We will only be offering web .NET window hosting and add VPS, Re-seller and dedicated when we can handle that volume. Does that sound like a good business plan?

    We want to stay with our core principal "Quality over quantity". Our long term goals depend on that.

    Thanks for any input
    Christi

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    We have reached 20 of the 3 and still have a few questions.

    I have read about bandwidth and how to calculate what we should need. (it's actually a crap shot as we don't know how our clients will go within their limits)

    I did not see anything about how we should plan for RAM. What is the formula?

    We have decided to go with a managed VPS to get our feet wet, so to speak, and grow with that. We will only be offering web .NET window hosting and add VPS, Re-seller and dedicated when we can handle that volume. Does that sound like a good business plan?

    We want to stay with our core principal "Quality over quantity". Our long term goals depend on that.

    Thanks for any input
    Christi
    Christi

    One question you must ask your prospective VPS provider is whether you can upgrade to a different VPS plan of theirs without them having to move you to a different server. If you need a plan with more RAM, you want to be able to upgrade it without any interruption to your service or any change of IP. That relies on them underselling to enough of an extent that they can absorb an upgrade, because RAM is one of the fixed quantities on a VPS node. (If a node has 16GB RAM, it can only run 15 or so VPS servers with 1GB each, assuming no overselling).

    When I was looking into Linux VPS, the advice I found somewhere was that running cPanel with MySQL needed more than 512 MB to run well. (So, 768MB, or better 1GB). If you plan on running SQLServer, it's memory needs may be different, and Windows servers are not my area. Someone else will advise you I'm sure.

    As for bandwidth, if you give each client a quota, you can make sure you stick within your bandwidth allocation for the VPS. All you need to do is make sure the limits you'd set each client are realistic so that people aren't avoiding hosting with you because you offer excessively low bandwidth.
    James Oakley, OakHosting.NET | UK Based | US Servers | Pay in , $ or
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  18. #18
    Thank you James! Your input has helped us out immensely.

    On a VPS, are we allowed to install open-source software? For example, I don't use Microsoft Office, I use OpenOffice 3.3 and I am searching for an XML Report writer. As I stated in my opening post, we are also going to be doing business web applications and use such programs.

    What about TOS? How in the world do you write a TOS? It will be 5 months before I can publish my own. Is there a place that has general TOS, privacy policy or any other legal document that we must put on our website?

    Since we are just starting up, how do we calculate our up-time? Ethically I do not want to put 99.9% up-time as we haven't had time to calculate.

    With managed vps, do we use their,our hosters, support system (tickets etc) or do we manage them? We want our clients to have excellent customer support, so we always want to view and have the ability to rectify any issues as quickly as possible.

    Thanks again for all input, had we not found this forum, we would have failed miserably.

  19. #19
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    Thank you James! Your input has helped us out immensely.
    You're welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    On a VPS, are we allowed to install open-source software? For example, I don't use Microsoft Office, I use OpenOffice 3.3 and I am searching for an XML Report writer. As I stated in my opening post, we are also going to be doing business web applications and use such programs.
    A VPS may be a virtual server, but it is your server to do with as you wish. It is your responsibility to make sure all software you install is properly licensed. OSS is one way forwards. Or you can buy licenses yourself, and some providers offer a reduced rate for Virtual Servers. Or, some VPS providers resell licenses for certain software, often at a cheaper rate than licensing it directly with the software vendor.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    What about TOS? How in the world do you write a TOS? It will be 5 months before I can publish my own. Is there a place that has general TOS, privacy policy or any other legal document that we must put on our website?
    Many people have found that TOS are one of the biggest tasks to undertake, often surprisingly so. I'm no expert. There are sites that will sell you a template, or even customise it as you put in your needs. But you need to make sure that it is written with your state / jurisdiction in mind, and your VPS provider will have terms of their own which will affect what terms you impose on your clients.

    At the end of the day, whatever help you get writing them, you have to work out what you want the TOS to say, and only you can do that. Will you allow adult content or not? Will you offer a money-back period or not? And so on. I'd advise looking at some of the shared hosts who are very active on here, and reading through their TOS in full. You'll find yourself thinking time and again either: "We need to say something that covers that", or "I wouldn't want that restriction in our case". Then, don't plagiarise, but work out what you need. Then get help.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    Since we are just starting up, how do we calculate our up-time? Ethically I do not want to put 99.9% up-time as we haven't had time to calculate.
    You're not stating what your historic uptime has been, but what you are willing to guarantee to your clients. It would not be unethical to guarantee 99.9% uptime provided you are confident that should be deliverable, and provided you are willing to underpin that with an appropriate refund if things go wrong.

    As soon as you have a server up and running, and some of your own content on there, set up a page that Pingdom can monitor, and start monitoring. That way you'll start to build up a historic uptime record that will guide you and reassure your clients.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    With managed vps, do we use their,our hosters, support system (tickets etc) or do we manage them? We want our clients to have excellent customer support, so we always want to view and have the ability to rectify any issues as quickly as possible.
    You'd have to do that. If you want a licensed package like WHMCS that may be something where they can resell you the license. I've never used it, but someone recommended to me the fact that Cerberus offer a free license for up to 3 seats.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    Thanks again for all input, had we not found this forum, we would have failed miserably.
    WHT is a good place!
    James Oakley, OakHosting.NET | UK Based | US Servers | Pay in , $ or
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    New: cPanel-powered Backup and Storage Space: with automated backups for hosting clients
    ... Drupal a speciality; PHP 5.3, 5.4, 5.5 or 5.6; Drush; Git; cPanel; Varnish; Apache 2.4

  20. #20
    Thank you James! Always there with a helping hand

    We are still weighing our options. We might go dedicated server route, as we would rather deal directly from the person who owns the server than not knowing how many users are actually on the server.

    SO, one more question, how do you disburse RAM? Say we had a 4GB of ram and were partitioning off 250 GB hdd. in 3 different hosting packages.

    We will be running SQL Server express to start and then when we can afford it, SQL Server Web edition. I know it's best to have 2GB RAM for SS alone.

    Thanks,
    Christi

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    Thank you James! Always there with a helping hand

    We are still weighing our options. We might go dedicated server route, as we would rather deal directly from the person who owns the server than not knowing how many users are actually on the server.
    A not-overloaded VPS on a high-specification node will outperform a cheap dedicated server any day. So don't go budget on the dedicated. Making the move to Dedicated would increase your budget from ~$40 monthly to ~$200.

    If you buy a VPS package, you are dealing with the person who owns the actual server. They own the physical machine on which your VPS is located. They let you use an isolated part of that machine, not just for your own website, but as your own (virtual) server.

    Sharing the VPS with other users on the same node need not be a problem, provided the provider has not overloaded it. They should be able to guarantee you the RAM they allocate you. Many providers let you have simply your fair share of the CPU, but some will even go so far as to say how many cores you can have just for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    SO, one more question, how do you disburse RAM? Say we had a 4GB of ram and were partitioning off 250 GB hdd. in 3 different hosting packages.
    You don't distribute the RAM. Most of the RAM would be used for your SQL Server, and if I've understood you correctly you would run one SQL Server service. Either the web hosting control panel you go for, or you, would then create databases on that SQLServer for clients to create tables on etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by christiwilsonc View Post
    We will be running SQL Server express to start and then when we can afford it, SQL Server Web edition. I know it's best to have 2GB RAM for SS alone.
    I'm no SQL Server expert, hopefully somebody else who's running SQL Server on a VPS will be able to help out here from experience. But, looking at the official system requirements page, for Express the minimum is 256MB with 1GB recommended; for web edition the minimum is 1GB with 4GB recommended.
    James Oakley, OakHosting.NET | UK Based | US Servers | Pay in , $ or
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    New: cPanel-powered Backup and Storage Space: with automated backups for hosting clients
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  22. #22
    Thanks James, I understand what you are saying and we have thought of the options with VPS. Just something in my gut says to go dedicated. With our long term goals I will need to work on a dedicated server as it is, so why not have one from start..

    My profession has been a full-time is a MS SQL Server DBA, so I do understand running multiple production and development servers so doing the web site hosting will give me experience in web development, partitioning drives, and hosting front end applications.

    We have been looking in the co-location area and looking at sig lines for data-center links.

    We plan to thoroughly test, re-test and test again before going live. We probable won't be going live for a few weeks. Below is a list of areas we need to research and be comfortable with., where we can do these tasks with no problems for us and most especially our clients. We want to stay small and have more of a one on one relationship(s) to our clients


    So this is what we are researching and documenting, which will keep us busy for a while. Internally we will be "live" for 7 days while we run drills on the server and then we will advertise for clients.


    partition drive
    allocate bandwidth
    allocate databases (both mySQL and SQL Server)
    allocate hdd storage
    security vulnerabilities
    firewall
    patches remotely, how often
    payments
    support for server
    support for clients (we do like to sleep and go out to dinner occasionally)
    learn website panel we want to use
    download and install software (open source)
    3 packages for hosting websites
    1 package for blogging (need to find software)
    Administrative tasks (server logs,error logs etc- build reporting system-tracker)
    User-Roles

    We would be eternally greatful if you (or anyone) can add to the list so we won't be surprised.

    Thanks everyone
    Christi

  23. #23
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    Hi Christi,

    I've tried to read through your requirements, but forgive me if I've overlooked something. At what I believe is your price and entry point, I feel your gut is wrong... dedicated is not the right choice. A properly run VPS, by that I mean (as previously described) one that had dedicated RAM and disk allocation and IMHO further one that has 'cloud' like attributes (clustered and highly available) will offer far more than a low end dedicated server. By 'low end', I mean something less than $400/month.

    Dedicated absolutely has its place, don't get me wrong. Prime examples, purpose built MySQL and MS-SQL servers. Anything WEB or 'front end' related though is a prime candidate for VPS/cloud especially once you factor in the quick scale up / scale down and high availability aspects. That said, within a few years we'll be virtualizing all roles regardless.

    Knowing SQL, you're aware that it's (by design) memory intensive. 2GB is an OK starting point, but in reality for more than a handful of sites you're cutting it close. Plan to ramp that up to 4GB or more. SQL Express is fine to start out with as long as you know the limitations and plan the upgrade path. The biggest 'gotcha' for me is the lack of an agent, therefore more difficulty in automating backup, maintenance and optimization jobs. Check out SQL Backup And FTP for an easy backup solution. Second biggest hurdle is the 1 processor limitation. Additionally, know the Microsoft SPLA guidelines for the future. My understanding is that if you're selling SQL services on Express you're in violation of the EULA as "a service provider". You'll want to verify and confirm that either way. For all these reasons and more SQL WEB edition is a very worth while upgrade and will generally fill nearly all cases.

    You've built your business around the Microsoft stack. Therefore, I'd recommend should you pursue the VPS/cloud route you go with a Hyper-V provider. Not simply for the virtualization layer and technology, however being Microsoft centric themselves the provider should better understand your needs and ability support you. Something XEN based would be my 2nd choice. I would not recommend Virtuozzo or OpenVZ technologies for your scenario.

    Don't worry about bandwidth so much at this point in the game. It's rare, if ever that I'll see any single client even remotely approach their quotas. You have to be hosting sites focused on video or file delivery to really exceed or make a dent in the quotas that most providers will give you.

    Overall you're asking the right questions and thinking along the right lines. Good luck!

    Regards,

    Wayne
    Last edited by AI-Wayne; 09-06-2011 at 11:05 PM.
    Applied Innovations (www.appliedi.net)
    Microsoft Gold Certified Hosting Partner, ASP.net Featured Host.
    Specializing in Windows Hosting since 1999.

  24. #24
    Hi everyone, thanks for all the input... I wanted to chime in and explain our long term goals in a bit more detail.

    The truth is simple website hosting is just a very minimal portion of what we're gearing up to provide.

    For instance, the last network Christi was administering as a DBA she set up with multiple clustered servers... One main production server with RAID 10 with log shipping, data, and applications split up between drives on the production server and the primary back-up server. (I'm not the DBA in the company, but this is how I understood her explanation) and if the RAID 10 was not recoverable due to a catastrophic event there was a third redundant back-up server that would come up. That server cluster just handled one application, there were additional servers for the marketing and accounting departments applications she developed and was responsible for... as well as 3 development servers

    They had a IT budget of a million+ for a 200 user network. In comparison I worked for a smaller Inc 500 E-commerce company doing SEO, SEM and E-commerce marketing (as well as being a design engineer), we outsourced our IT by using Netsuite (sorry I tried to link that but I don't have 5 posts yet), which we ended up not being too pleased with, they offer a wide range of applications and services but without the customization we really needed (plus Google hates their pages... they're not even W3C compliant last time I checked). That's who I consider our competition to be in the long run.

    We want to expand and develop a fully integrated customized solution including financial, marketing, e-commerce, inventory tracking, shipping integration, reporting services, manufacturing protocols, and of course web design and custom CMS... basically replace a companies need to maintain an IT department (beyond keeping their desktops running in-house); all done offsite "in the cloud" although we will develop desktop applications if a specific need arises.

    Our thoughts leading us to getting a dedicated server is to reserve a small portion of the server for web hosting just to recoup some overhead and use the rest as a development server for Christi to work with. We'll have reserve space for our hosting companies should they grow large enough and at that point we can pick up another development server for Christi's programming.

    In the long run we're searching for a provider that can scale up multiple servers for us quickly when we need them, and really be able to build a strong business relationship with.

    I'm sorry if our earlier posts were a little misleading with the talk about reseller plans and such... as we better developed our long term plans we needed to make some adjustments to what we want to start out with. I hope this helps give a little bigger picture of where our thought process is going.

  25. #25
    Join Date
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    David - I'm chiming in quite late here and I know alot has been said. From my experience in the industry and with your requirements I think you need to find a small, personal *managed* hosting company to suit your needs.

    I'd also advise at doing development work on a server running production websites - but that is your call of course.

    Saying that - I think virtual private server(s) would be your best bet to break into this, and if you need the power you can then migrate to a true Cloud solution or to dedicated servers depending.

    Hope it works out for you.
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