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'[EE] Host for piclist.com was: Still trying to buy'
2008\01\09@021533 by James Newton

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I would love to move to a hosting service. Here are the points that I have
to get past (and which none of the hosts I have checked on allow or will
answer questions about)

1. Custom 404 ASP script. All the pages are "processed" before being
displayed to the requesting browser. Email address obfuscation is only one
of the many reasons for that.

2. Email to archive gateway. The existing mail server has an option to call
a program when email arrives and that is how it gets put into the archive.
How do I do that on a virtual server?

3. Move and search 2 GB of archived posts. No, google will NOT do it. They
ONLY index what THEY want to index. I've been trying to get them to index
the PICList archives for years. The search engine on the current server may
be a tad slow, but it is searching ALL 2 GB of emails. Not to mention what a
pain it will be to actually move all that to the remote server.

--
James.

{Original Message removed}

2008\01\09@034309 by Nate Duehr

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On Jan 9, 2008, at 12:15 AM, James Newton wrote:

> I would love to move to a hosting service. Here are the points that  
> I have
> to get past (and which none of the hosts I have checked on allow or  
> will
> answer questions about)
>
> 1. Custom 404 ASP script. All the pages are "processed" before being
> displayed to the requesting browser. Email address obfuscation is  
> only one
> of the many reasons for that.

I would assume that a good Windows-based virtual hosted system could  
handle this, it's just your own copy of Windows running on a  
virtualized box, if it's done right.  You log in and do what you  
want.  (Think VMWare or similar run by the hosting company, not a  
cheap webserver-only virtualization that mucks with the http server to  
make it handle multiple domains... anyone can do that.)

> 2. Email to archive gateway. The existing mail server has an option  
> to call
> a program when email arrives and that is how it gets put into the  
> archive.
> How do I do that on a virtual server?


I would assume that however you do it on the current server could be  
setup to do the same thing.  I don't know your setup, but the list  
server somehow talks to your web server, that communication and  
software wouldn't change.  ???

{Quote hidden}

Again same thing, just move it to the virtual server.  I would assume  
a good hosting company would allow you to pay them some (minimal)  
amount to have a live tech plug in a USB drive or something you'd ship  
them if the bandwidth and time isn't there to do a multi-hour (slow)  
transfer of gigabytes of data.  Send 'em a DVD and tell 'em to put it  
in the drive for you, etc.

I understand your concerns, but I think if you stick with professional  
hosting companies and talk to them, there's cost and infrastructure  
benefits to not hosting servers in small environments anymore.  Where  
the price breakpoint is, I'm not sure -- but many large organizations  
(Expedia comes to mind, and they're an "all Windows" shop) build their  
own servers but don't host/house them in-house -- they leave the multi-
homed multiple-backbone routing to someone else, the air conditioning,  
the power backup, the hands-on (if they need a live technician), the  
firewalls... lots of the administrivia (that's the word I like to call  
it) to another organization and focus on their core business.  If it  
were truly cheaper to host stuff internally long-term, the data center  
market wouldn't exist.  One story from a friend in the medium-sized  
data center hosting biz is that their company has a large customer (a  
name on the Net that most people would recognize) that has two rows of  
7' rack cabinets filled with 1RU Windows machines.  They literally let  
them die out of the cluster as they have problems, or shut them down,  
and when they drop to 2/3 of their full server capacity, they schedule  
flights for a team of admins to come in, upgrade whole racks at a  
time, repair or replace the failed hardware or reload the software  
from bare-metal, and when they leave, the site is back at 100% server  
farm capacity, with no down-time.

(Actually my friend uses it as a story of how NOT to do things, he  
says the vast majority of the problems encountered that cause server  
shutdowns are due to Windows/IIS, and he has similar sized Linux/Unix  
customers who maybe have 5% of their server cluster farms down, but he  
agrees that either way is a valid server farm management technique --  
do whatever you're used to, he says.)

But there's definitely going to be a size and services breakpoint  
where it becomes cost-effective to host something "outside".  I can't  
do that math for anyone, since I haven't priced data center or co-
location facilities in a while, but when I worked in that biz, there  
was a LOT of competition.

Rackspace, Server Beach, etc... not mom and pop shops, UNLESS (like  
with many products) you can find a local place that has EXCELLENT  
(read: smart) staff and charges less.  Those deals are out there...  
but like any good deal, if you don't almost stumble upon them, finding  
them often takes more time/effort (lost opportunity costs) than is  
reasonable.

I have a friend who runs a small hosting/co-location environment in a  
former C-Band TV uplink facility that was abandoned that he bought for  
a reasonable price.  He and a few others put sweat equity into  
cleaning it up, adding generators, adding multiple fiber routes to it  
(the expensive part), etc... and yes -- it has some bandwidth and  
redundancy limitations over "the big boys" like Savvis (purchasers of  
Exodus) and SunGard (purchasers of a lot of mid-sized data centers as  
well as a complete server farm management company to start with), but  
I understand them and still host a box there.  No matter how I slice  
it, their backbone connectivity and latency numbers beat anything I  
could ever have installed at a residential or most small business  
locations.

I believe you're in California, right?  The co-location biz out there  
was way over-built for a long time, and lots of mergers happened,  
etc.  There should be some really good prices out there.  Not to  
mention it meets one of my other personal rules... unless I'm going  
for geographic diversity (to avoid things like large-scale natural  
disasters, which I've had nothing big or interesting enough to do that  
with yet), the data center must be within reasonable driving distance  
of my home... sometimes you just have to get to the box... in my case,  
the boxes are traditionally "co-located" and aren't virtuals, but I've  
helped folks with virtuals before, and from our viewpoint, you have no  
idea they're even on a shared hardware platform with others... you  
just log into them and do whatever... the only time the hosting folks  
get involved is in mounting physical media for loading things, or in  
reconfiguration of the virtual to allow more bandwidth, CPU, RAM,  
etc... at a price.

Rent-a-server, is what I'd call it.  The standard fiscal metrics  
apply, just like the rent-vs-buy decisions we all make on various  
products...

There are other options -- like many cities having fiber all over the  
place and a telco-operated MPLS network, but that's usually far more  
useful to connect sites within the city than cost-effective in  
providing bandwidth back-haul to a back-bone (or three).  In that  
case, it'd be a "I need high bandwidth and I can get it so cheaply  
here at this location because we're on the fiber ring that I don't  
mind building, hosting and maintaining the server hardware myself).

--
Nate Duehr
spam_OUTnateTakeThisOuTspamnatetech.com

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