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  #1  
Old 12-21-2003, 03:28 AM
lenardd lenardd is offline
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Critical Mission App Hosting


I'm currently doing some early research to locate a provider to host our "critical mission" application written in ASP.NET/C#/MSSQL. Some background info:

Basically when a client signs up for our service, we would configure an instance of our application to start from a subdomain and point it to its own copy of a MSSQL database. (So 100 clients translates to 100 instances of the application running and 100 MSSQL databases.) Client connection is via SSL.

Site location and network security is very important as the database will store very sensitive data. We would like to provide our clients details on the steps we have taken to assure them their data is "safe" on our servers.

Though most of our clients will be based in North America, we need to make sure they can access the application from UK and Austria/NewZealand with good performance. A good worldwide backbone(s) is essential.

Customer support and system reliability is important as any failure with hardware or system software would really hurt our operations if not addressed in a timely manner.

A couple of senarios I could start with:

1. A balanced VPS provider + shared SQL Server license
2. A dedicated webserver + shared SQL Server license
3. A dedicated webserver + dedicated MSSQL Server + purchase Standard or Enterprise MSSQL license
4. Colocate

I'm not too keen about #4 as I don't want to be bothered with the hardware stuff....and if something fails I need it fixed quickly as per some SLA.

Our starting budget is limited but as our client base increases, we need the flexiblity to expand easily, quickly, and inexpensively. (Note: What I mean by "inexpensively" is.....a provider that will allow us to scale up efficiently.....not expensively.) I would like to keep it under $500/m (to start) but I may be unreasonable due to the multiple SQL Server database requirements.

I would appreciate any thoughts from those that have been there before ( ie. web-application hosting ).....good or bad. I would like to stay away from providers with complicated/changing plans and those that "nickle and dime you to death" especially when scaling up.

Thanks.



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  #2  
Old 12-21-2003, 08:57 AM
JDMundo JDMundo is offline
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You didn't mention how much, if any, actual server management you plan to do yourself. That's a major factor in cost and determining the host.

I would suggest you bounce your message above on a couple of hosts like rackmy.com/Xiolink and maximumasp(.com), both high-quality Windows hosts.

I will say though that $500 wont get you terribly far if you're serious about the critical in "critical application hosting". Critical or high-availability typically means that you have full redundancy, so if one component in your setup fail, everything still works, there's no downtime, cause you have two of everything.

There's no way you can get that for $500 at a premium facility. .. But not necessarily necessary to go nuts with multiple server, failover load-balancing gear etc to begin with. You could get just one reasonably powerful box, load everything on that and take very frequent back-ups to a remote space, so if this one box implodes you can restore everything quickly.

And when your clients inevitably complain about the downtime, blame someone else (and make sure you include a disclaimer in your SLA to your clients about downtime out of your control). ;-)

.. Then when you have the bucks later, expand to multiple servers etc.

  #3  
Old 12-21-2003, 09:13 AM
JDMundo JDMundo is offline
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And one thing I forgot to mention.. When hosting clients that uses MS SQL you can't just purchase a regular MSSQL server license and use that, you need the MS Service Provider licenses (http://www.microsoft.com/serviceprov...ng/compare.asp). Bad news is that you have to be a certified MS "partner" to get those, good news is that you don't get them, you rent the license from the host such as Rackmy who are certified etc. The cost varies from host to host, but in the neighborhood of $250 per month for the MSSQL standard license. That's good, cause it means you don't have to fork over $5K for it upfront.

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  #4  
Old 12-21-2003, 09:58 AM
TDMWeb TDMWeb is offline
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I'd start off with 1 dedicated webserver and space on a shared SQL Server machine in the same datacentre. This will probably be easier to arrange in the US than Europe, but worth trying to estimate your likely spread of clients worldwide and do some tests from various locations if you can.

Don't put SQL Server on the webserver machine. Do go for a quality provider, who is a Windows specialist, and who will jump to your help immediately you have an issue (not in several hours time). Make sure you have daily offserver backup and test it works, and that the SQL Server is backed up daily too, and do a test restore.

I'd start with a reasonable but not over-the-top webserver spec and aim to add a second webserver when you can. Multiple moderate servers are better than one massive server, in my opinion. Definitely go for Windows Server 2003 not Win 2000.

I'd think your $500 will start you off with a reasonable webserver and shared SQL Server space. Take care to try and estimate your data transfer requirements so you don't get any nasty shocks.

Add your own SQL Server machine when rental costs justify it.

Hope that helps!

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  #5  
Old 12-21-2003, 01:21 PM
pmabraham pmabraham is offline
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Greetings:

$500 per month != mission critical hosting.

While the need may be there, the budget doesn't reflect the need.

Even in co-location, given SQL licensing, I'm not sure how you could easily keep under $500.

Thank you.

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  #6  
Old 12-21-2003, 08:38 PM
StreetWarz StreetWarz is offline
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Deffinately not $500/mo for Mission Critical Situation.

I recently setup some client with 4 servers looking to do about what you are doing.
1 Server Webserver
1 Server Database
1 Server Email
1 Server Backup

2 of the 4 servers are Dual Xeons, and others are Single Xeons.. all running Raid 5, with backup using 3 x 73gb drives.

Lets put it this way, you need near 3 Times your $500/mo for mission critical. Specially with full managed/ < 4 hour repair downtime. etc..

If you are looking at $500/mo then you are giving less than a mission critical solution.

Goodluck in your search for this kinda provider. Hope its Quality bandwidth too, people who want mission critical servers will spend the Extra $$ for the security of knowing their sites are safe, and wont go down.

  #7  
Old 12-21-2003, 09:37 PM
lenardd lenardd is offline
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StreetWarz,

Keep in mind we will only have a handful of clients at first so I was hoping to jump into something like say MaximumASP Balanced VPS plan or ORCSWeb WebFarm plan to test the waters. Then again, I don't know if these plans are good enough for hosting Critical Mission Apps to start. (I will ask them when the time comes.) If not, I guess we'll just bite the bullet and go for a couple of dedicated servers. We don't need an email server. A backup server will come later but for now I'll just pay the provider a monthly fee to do it.

Anyways, the above setup is not something that will be keep for long if things go according to our plans. We hope to have our own dedicated servers within 6 months.

  #8  
Old 12-21-2003, 09:59 PM
pmabraham pmabraham is offline
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Greetings:

If you market a specific value, one needs to deliver that value.

Otherwise, pick a different niche.

Thank you.

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  #9  
Old 12-21-2003, 10:08 PM
StreetWarz StreetWarz is offline
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you could probably start off with a couple High End dedicated's like Dual Xeons, with small amt of bandwidth. And addon as you grow.

You would be looking at $300-$400 per Dual Xeon (good bandwidth & < 4 hour repair + backups)

and then you need windows/mssql licensing on top of this.

You might be better off starting a lower end webhosting/vps, and as you attain more income. Then step up to the big leagues.

Or you can simply take the bigger risk of the higher startup.

Either way webhosting/dedicated reselling etc.. is a tough business to start, you need alot of income up front.

Again Goodluck.

  #10  
Old 12-21-2003, 11:18 PM
lenardd lenardd is offline
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JDMundo

Are you saying that purchasing a license from below that I wouldn't be able to use it on my dedicated server?

shop.store.yahoo.com/go2pcsports/sql20en1proc.html
shop.store.yahoo.com/go2pcsports/micsqlser20s1.html

--Lenard

  #11  
Old 12-21-2003, 11:29 PM
lenardd lenardd is offline
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TDMWeb,

I like your approach. The key will be finding a quality provider that will allow us to scale efficiently. I've always found it a crap shoot when picking highly rated providers. They don't turn out to be as good as people say.

Currently, I'm looking at the following:

MaximumASP - I like what they have to offer....like their "Load Balanced VPS" to start with. (I may be crazy to consider such a plan....but remember I will start with about 5 clients at first.) The plan is also a good way to provide "99.999%" uptime reliability at the beginning. Not sure who their tier1 providers are. Support seems pretty decent with an occasional blip from what I have read.

Orcsweb - These guys look good too and well recognized. WebFarm plan looks good to provide the "100%" uptime reliability if I don't go with the dedicated solution at start. Not sure who their worldwide tier1 providers are.

ThePlanet - Nice set of tier1 providers. They also have a lot Managed Services to offer to a small company like ours. Not sure how their overall customer support is for all those services.

XIOLINK - Nice tier1 backbone providers. Well respected and apparently reliable. Their plans don't seem to be priced with IIS6 and Windows Server 2003. I think they want more money for those configurations.....likely not a big deal.

Verio/NTT - Lots of services. Access is superfast through my broadband provider. Not sure about their customer support. I understand their network is very high quality. But I wonder if I'm putting all my eggs in one basket if it should go "down". At least, say with the Planet, they are connected to multiple tier1 providers. Any thoughts?

Rackspace - Highly rated? Didn't they used to be a spammers haven turned "good"? I hear some providers still block emails coming from them. Their spin off division proactive7.com looks interesting but more expensive?

--Lenard


Last edited by lenardd; 12-21-2003 at 11:40 PM.
  #12  
Old 12-21-2003, 11:33 PM
Mfjp Mfjp is offline
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There are also cost of redundant network gear, possibly hardware load balancer for clusters. Just lots and lots of things to get it done right. Then, u'll need a provider with a couple gigE behind a pair of Juniper M40 so he could filter out massive DDos.

  #13  
Old 12-22-2003, 07:51 AM
JDMundo JDMundo is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by lenardd
JDMundo

Are you saying that purchasing a license from below that I wouldn't be able to use it on my dedicated server?

shop.store.yahoo.com/go2pcsports/sql20en1proc.html
shop.store.yahoo.com/go2pcsports/micsqlser20s1.html

--Lenard
Yep, they're no good for what you're doing. Application service providers need the SP licenses from MS (see the link I included above).

  #14  
Old 12-22-2003, 09:51 AM
TDMWeb TDMWeb is offline
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I'd look at smaller rather than larger providers -- you will get a more personal service, more responsive (in my experience).

I'd hesitate to use ThePlanet for what you need. Their ServerMatrix (SM) arm have been hugely successful which means they are short of techies at the moment. I know ThePlanet is a higher-spec and higher-support operation than SM but I'd be nervous that they really have enough people just now.

If you go for someone who does not have their own DC, then be sure that not only the provider but the DC as well will give the service you need.

__________________
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Windows & Linux hosting and fully managed dedicated servers with great customer service!
UK-based but serving the world...

  #15  
Old 12-22-2003, 03:22 PM
alert3ff alert3ff is online now
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Looks like you will want to talk to CrystalTech
http://www.crystaltech.com
Excellent Windows/SQL host!
Spent 4 years with them and was always happy with them.
Just moved everything to Unix as no longer needed the window enviroment.
They offer a broad range of plans and dedicated boxes.
At least call them and see if they can help.
Ed

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