Our transition from VPS hosting to our own dedicated server
Jun 2017
VPS Vs Dedicated Server
John Ince
What's a VPS?
Ok, keeping it simple. It's kind of like having your very own server connected to the Internet. It looks and feels like a real computer BUT it's actually an emulation of an operating system which shares resources with other VPS (hence VIRTUAL Private Server) instances on a single physical computer. This server could even be LINUX operating system or a Windows server running multiple emulated operating system instances. The VPS gets a timeslice of the full processing power of the main machine. The memory, CPU cores and disk size are all software configurable. It's a compromise based around pricing. Cheaper than a physical box. You can work out the performance restrictions and downsides based on the sharing resources element.
What's a Dedicated Server?
It's your own physical computer in a rack within a data centre. It exists. Security permitting you could head on into the building and plug a keyboard and monitor into it. It's real. It isn't shared with anyone either, greedily it's all your own. Pick your machine specification and the box is configured and racked. Remote access is pretty much the same as in the VPS world. In our case through remote desktop. This physical box could be virtualised into what is essentially the same as a VPS, albeit a private VPS with only your own instances.
Our Migration from VPS to Dedicated Server
Over the last week we've been migrating from multiple VPSs to our very own single dedicated server. It all ran pretty smoothly with only a few teething troubles. Our realtime cloud architecture is very easy to setup and configure. We managed the move to the dedicated server in under an hour. Historically we ran multiple VPS servers which we have now combined into a single dedicated cloud with ALL our clients onboard. We've now an outrageous amount of resources at our exclusive disposal. Fields of memory, Acres of Fast SSD storage, 100Mbps network connection and a supercharged multicore processor. Life is good. So why historically did we start from this point, Why the VPS?
Why the VPS in the First Place?
Firstly cost. We were a poor startup right? Correct. However it turned out to be much, much bigger than the physical cost. How many cloud hosted webapps could we run on a VPS with very limited resources? What a great place to be when you're trying to create the next generation of economical, energy efficient and performance aware software. The more efficient we code and the less network traffic congestion the more we can squeeze on a tiny computer. In reality we're taking a 50cc moped and squeezing every last drop of performance out of it whilst at the same time increasing it's green credentials. We managed to shoehorn about 20 live webapps onto a single VPS without performance degradation. We believe that we can push this way beyond this into the future. Imagine the energy savings achievable in data centres throughout the world.
We Monitor our Cloud Webapps 365/24/7
If we are going to fit a quart into a pint pot then we really do need to know if there's spillage when we aren't looking. We coded a whole range of system performance tools that give us a health check on our realtime cloud webapps and also the performance of the VPS or dedicated server. If our VPS time slice becomes an issue we should know. We've a comprehensive series of alarms that point us to the exact issues, from issues in our software, slow network performance, poor CPU processing just for starters and centralised reporting too. Welcome to our world, this is how we tune and maintain our software and servers. If there's a problem, we know about it. We know if our web hosting provider is wobbling before they know it themselves.
So Why the Move to Dedicated?
We monitor our hosting 24/7. We noticed and consistently logged a degradation in our hosting performance. We raised tickets to no avail. We simply know more than most clients about our VPS performance. However there was another issue driving our move. This one was an operating system problem. On our VPS we were stuck on Windows Server 2008 and IIS 7.n. We're getting more requests for our secure ssl variants of our cloud webapps and we could only fit one client's ssl certificate on one Win 2008 server. A restriction of IIS. Our cloud webapp architecture already supported multiple secure ssl certificates. So it's either one VPS per ssl customer or move to Windows Server 2012R2 and IIS 8.n with multiple ssl certificates supported. We also wanted to be free of the shared element that sometimes killed performance just at the worst possible time, during a demo. Reason enough?
So What's it like on the Other Side?
Dedicated server bliss. Our monitoring shows beautiful response, zero alarms and the world is all good. We can now start to build our own load balanced solution into the future with multiple dedicated servers in our own cluster.
What about LINUX and other Server Operating Systems?
We currently develop and run our cloud on windows server based operating systems, however we are completely OS independent. Our server technology is written entirely in c/cpp (with a tiny amount of PHP glue code) and we can simply do a port to any operating system that has a c++ compiler and linker. It's our intention to provide a stock LINUX Apache version out of the box, it's on our impressive backlog of tasks to do. Our client technology is browser hosted and works already across all desktop and mobile platforms with a modern browser.
Doing it differently since 2012. We're simply 10 years ahead. Our software is designed, coded, maintained, supported & hosted in the United Kingdom.
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