New server

So the server that I bought back in April of 2006 to host this site died Wednesday September 18th, 2013.. I am not sure exactly what happened,  but found it unresponsive around 22:00. I went over to where it was hosted and it was still running, but the ethernet card lights were both on solid. After trying to get it to boot and show something on both the video card or the serial port for about an hour, I finally turned it off and got a screw driver out and removed it from the rack.

I had been expecting this day for a while, since the server was 7+ years old. So I brought it home and left it on the floor. The next night I tried to boot it and see if I could get in to it. No go, something was hosed in it. As soon as I plugged in the power the fans all went to 100% and no output on the video again. Great… So I pulled one of the drives out, and attached it to a SATA/USB adapter and mounted it to a Solaris VM on my Mac. Awesome, all the data was still there. After spending close to 8 hours copying the data off, there was a hunt for a new place to host my site.

The three “ideas” I had were the following:

  1. Joyent – They run servers running SmartOS (nee Solaris). So this would be my primary choice, cause hey, I love Solaris, and really hate Linux.
  2. Amazon Web Services – They only support Linux and Windows. So I would have to switch to Linux or Windows (not really wanting to do that)
  3. Host it at home and upgrade my cable modem to a business class one.

 

So I set out to look at the cost. Both the Joyent and AWS were pretty close for the “same” amount of “hardware”. Comcast Business class was going to be WAY more than hosting it some place else.. Now it was between Joyent and AWS.

Free Trials Away….

Amazon Web Services will let you use a one of their “micro” instances for free for a year. So I decided to set one up and see how it would go. I chose to do a SUSE Linux instances, since they didn’t support Solaris. About 15 minutes after clicking the “go” button, I had a SUSE “VM” on the Internet and root access to it.

While the Amazon VM was being provisioned I went to Joyent.com and decided to sign up for one of their free 2 month trials. Unfortunately it wasn’t as smooth as the Amazon sign up. While doing the registration process, it requires a phone to call to give you a PIN number to type in to finish the registration (I assume to stop hackers from spawning machines automagically). Well I put in the phone number and it called, but it only rang barely once and then hung up. It then changed the status page to an “invalid account” and locked it so I couldn’t do anything.

I tried calling them, and they said I had to submit a support request through the Internet. I did and some emails went back and forth, and then it was time to go to bed. The next day I received an email saying that the account had been updated and to try to log in. I also received an email from an account exec asking how it was going. (More than I received from Amazon…)

After work I logged in and tried to create my first “SmartMachine”. Well that sort of failed since I had not finished the registration part the night before. So I added my CC number to the billing info, but it still would not let me create one as it said I had no billing info set… Ha! I logged out and back in and it was much better, it let me pick the size of machine I wanted to create and a way it went. About 10 minutes later I had a root account on a zone on the machine.

So the work began on trying to get my site back up and running between the AWS SUSE VM and the Joyent SmartOS Zone. Surprisingly the SmartOS machine I had picked, had Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc already installed. BUT PHP did not appear to have been compiled with MySQL support. So I just decided to do my own compilation of Apache+PHP+MySQL.

As you can see, it is all up and working now.

So here is my quick comparison of Joyent (standard 64) and AWS (micro T1) given the 1 day of use now:

  1. Easy of signing up:
    • Amazon: Pretty painless. No issues that I had to contact some one for.
    • Joyent: Minor issue, and it may not be their fault, but it did take extra time to get it fixed
  2. OS Selection:
    • Amazon: They have a variety of Linux (7 different Distro’s) and Windows (2003,2008,2012) instances. However neither would be my first choice of OS for my site. Decided on SUSE Linux in the end.
    • Joyent: They offer 3 different OS’. Linux, Windows and SmartOS. SmartOS is a fork of Solaris when it was “open sourced”. Therefore I chose SmartOS, as I would much prefer it over Linux.
  3. Speed of provisioning
    • Amazon: Roughly 15 minutes from start to when I had root access
    • Joyent: Roughly 15 minutes from start to when I had root access.
  4. Processors:
    • Amazon: 1 Processor (Intel Xeon CPU E5-2650 @ 2.00GHz)
    • Joyent: 24 Running at 2.4GHz, 1vCPU
  5. Memory:
    • Amazon: 658Mb
    • Joyent: 2GB
  6. Disk Space:
    • Amazon: 10GB
    • Joyent: 66GB
  7. Networking:
    • Amazon: 15GB out
    • Joyent: First GB out free, each additional up to 10TB is $0.120

 

Right now the cost of both of these VPS’s is roughly around $47 a month. But will see how that works out with the network costs..

I will update in a month after seeing how they both perform.

2 Replies to “New server”

  1. I’ve been running on Joyent since 2007 and they’ve been very solid. In 2010 I selected them for my startup. Unfortunately they were having intermittent outages and support was not up to par. It turned out they were migrating from a Sun to Dell servers and hit an issue with APM that was causing servers to go offline every 2 weeks or so, but by the time they diagnosed this we had already switched to AWS (running their OpenSolaris 2009.05 AMI). Amazon was a nightmare with wildly erratic performance, at least 2-3 hung or crashed VMs per week, and even some silent data corruption caught by ZFS. I was quite happy when we migrated to our own servers in a colo 2 years ago. The big problem with Amazon is they never retire obsolete machines on their last legs, or ones with marginal components. We were spinning up 20 VMs at a time, then culling the runt sand keeping only the 2-3 that had acceptable performance. Everyone does this trick now, the result being good VMs are snapped up and held for dear life, but bad ones recirculate until you are most likely to get a dud when you ask for one). Joyent is much better about getting high-quality hardware in the first place.

  2. So far, joyent’s support has been very responsive when I have sent in requests.. I imagine that I will end up dropping the AWS after the free year. Based on what you have said and what I have seen with network issues.

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