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  1. #1

    Question Hosting for an Online Community: Hosting companies that can grow with me

    Good afternoon everyone.

    Thank you for your help in this matter and for having this fantastic site!

    I hope you can help me with three doubts I have regarding web hosting.

    1. Solutions that can grow easily with my site

    I am in the process of creating an online community with a social network, forums and blogs. According to my estimates, this site is intended (as I'm sure all others, haha) to grow and eventually get BIG in less than two years from the Production date.

    I need to find a hosting plan that will allow me to grow in parallel to my site. I think I would need a lot of space and bandwidth. Also, I would need a server with good RAM.

    Space is critical. For example, if I wish to allocate 128 MB per user, and I get - say - 500 users registered in the first month, I would theorically need 62.5 GB to be able to handle this. If we escalate this to 5,000 users, I would need around 1 TB.

    Consequently, bandwidth requirements are higher. I think I would need around 300 GB of bandwidth in order to cope with traffic and visitors. I intend to drive a lot of traffic to my site (I want to be able to buy food and stuff!) so that figure is frightening and it will certainly grow.

    I have read a lot of posts about this and everyone recommends starting out small. I would need a server that has access to SSL, custom scripts, unlimited db/subdomains/emails/etc, root access, .htaccess configuration, etc. This - I think - rules out shared hosting plans.

    I would have to go with a VPS solution that gives me all the flexibility to manage contents, scripts, users, etc. without having to take care of security / OS patches and other painful tasks.

    However, I do want to stick with a company that can bring me what I need. For example, if in 6 months I need to migrate to a dedicated server with 2 TB of bandwidth and 1 TB of disk space, the process should be easy. If later I need to migrate to a clustered dedicated server, this should not be hard.

    If anyone can point out suggestions on companies that create custom solutions, are reliable and are able to grow with my needs, I will be thankful.

    2. Development and Test Servers

    Also, I need to have a development/testing server. For the reasons mentioned above, I think I would need a VPS plan as well but with lower bandwidth/space/RAM. I would like it to be a hosted server since I want my three colleagues to access the site, source code, etc. I also need a server that can host Mantis, Bugzilla or any other bug-tracking systems, and probably a version control system as well. What do you think? What are your suggestions?

    3. Small (and probably hard to answer) questions

    - What do you think is the ratio of visitors vs (registered) users in a social networking site? For example, figures report MySpace having 60,000,000 accounts and also around 60,000,000 unique monthly visitors. That would account for a 1:1 ratio. However, for smaller sites I think this ratio should be around 5:1. Any ideas?

    - Anyone have ANY idea of what is the return time for the investment and ROI in social networking sites? If someone could point out a bibliographical reference, that would be awesome.

    Thanks a lot for your help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1,265
    If your figures are correct, you will be needing a dedicated server almost immediately after starting your communities. You may find a VPS will hold out for a while, but you will definitely need to consider getting atleast a small celeron dedicated server. You will most likely be able to find a host who can offer you a good dedicated server for you to start out on. You will most likely also want to keep in mind that you may need a fully managed server, unless you are well versed in Linux.

    Most companies will be more than happy to give you a deal if you buy more than one dedicated server. Now a days you can easily find a dedicated server for the same price as some vps units.

    You will need much bandwidth to fulfill your needs. You should be looking into unmetered 10Mbps to start out and then scale up from there. I know there are a few dedicated server hosts that offer unmetered bandwidth servers on 100Mbps ports, but only allowing to burst to those speeds. When searching for a provider you don't need high end bandwidth, as long as transferr is good you dont need to spend ungodly amounts fo money highend bandwidth, such as level 3 or peer 1.

    Also if you have as many visitors as you are emntioning above you will need to consider going with a host who will be able to set you up with a cluster, cause one server is not going to handle the load by any stretch of the imagination, unless you have a quad cpu opteron, with 24gigs of ram, load balancing network ports, etc. Usually much cheaper to setup a cluster .

    As for the ratio, I perosnally have no idea. You need a marketing analyst to look over the number to give you a better idea.


    lane

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    448
    Just to warn you. The solution you seek will not be cheap. As you will need management on your main server and seconday server and custom data storage . I imagine any real solution that fulfils all you needs would start from at least 400$/month.

    I do think you need to do more research before considering your hosting. And think about your business plan.

    As far as i am aware myspace and YouTube have never made a profit. I may be wrong however.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    10,574
    Take a look at www.myriadnetwork.com. They offer very high performance VPS environments and can you offer a way to move samelessly on to a dedicated server with no data loss, minimal (if any) downtime, etc.

  5. #5
    Thanks to everyone for the replies. I will take another look to the strategy and see what options I have.

    Any more comments are greatly appreciated

    So you definitely do not see a way I could start off with a VPS hosting plan?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    3,219
    Sounds like you're going to need a dedicated server right from the get go. If you're strapped for cash, check out some of the dedicated servers from The Planet (servers start at $69 a month). You'll easily be able to upgrade to a higher performance server after your site grows.
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  7. #7
    it also depends on what software you are using for your website. Good coding or programming would help to reduce server load.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Swellyville
    Posts
    2,340
    Quote Originally Posted by Shaw Networks
    Sounds like you're going to need a dedicated server right from the get go. If you're strapped for cash, check out some of the dedicated servers from The Planet (servers start at $69 a month). You'll easily be able to upgrade to a higher performance server after your site grows.
    Good suggestion, not to mention a pretty powerful player with strong reputation.
    <<< Please see Forum Guidelines for signature setup. >>>

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    10,574
    Quote Originally Posted by Shaw Networks
    Sounds like you're going to need a dedicated server right from the get go. If you're strapped for cash, check out some of the dedicated servers from The Planet (servers start at $69 a month). You'll easily be able to upgrade to a higher performance server after your site grows.
    The company is essentially in disarray after the merger with EV1Servers. I wouldn't touch them with a 40ft pole.

  10. #10
    The Planet will be able to come out of their growth cycle just fine.
    I think the merger between EV1 and thePlanet is a good thing.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    584

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    10,574
    Quote Originally Posted by Highland Web
    The Planet will be able to come out of their growth cycle just fine.
    I think the merger between EV1 and thePlanet is a good thing.
    They've been going through issues for months now. They won't be able to offer good support to the OP, and they haven't been able to offer good support for years now.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    uk
    Posts
    448
    Guys he needs managed servers/vps

    and he needs at least 2 if you read his post.

    I don't understand the people recommending him unmanaged $70 servers.

  14. #14
    Thanks again for your suggestions. I have checked ThePlanet and SoftLayer and they basically cover all my technical needs. However, as doc_flabby pointed out, I need managed since I do not have the skills (right now) to optimize, harden and secure a server. To my best knowledge, neither TP or SL offer managed services.

    I also noticed the problems with TP by reading on this forum - that is why I am a little more inclined towards SL.

    I might be able to get two servers from SL plus service management from a company like SeeksAdmin. Does anyone recommend this guy or is there something better?

    Another question, do you guys think I need two identical servers for development + testing/production or can I pay for a smaller server (yet with the same characteristics) for development and a bigger one for Production?

    Thanks again guys!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    188
    I would say a smaller server for development is fine, since you aren't going to put that big load on it anyway
    Systems Developer/Programmer

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter-SexyWing
    check layeredtech.com too

    They have large range of dedicated servers

    looks good

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