10 June 2011

ElasticHosts - Real user & hosting experience

Once in a time every web developer or company has to go through stressful and painful experience of choosing right solution for web hosting, server hosting, cloud hosting, name server hosting, etc. It is usually weird experience because you must rely on people recommending or completely trashing particular provider or hosting.

There are dozens of forums for webmasters with discussions about hosting, posts about recommended or bad providers. The problem with such forums is that for every recommendation you have 3-5 bad opinions. It means that service or  provider itself may not be necessarily bad but there are people who try to ventilate their frustration online. You don't usually get positive reviews online, if it works there is no reason to complain online.

We have been looking for right provider and solution for 2-3 weeks. First choice was to choose dedicated, VPS or cloud hosting. We chose cloud hosting based on fact that we had option to try ElasticHosts, CloudSigma, RackspaceCloud for free and directly compare it against our current dedicated HP ML330 G6 with RAID1 SAS drives. We have done plenty of tests and were quite happy with the speed of servers, network.

We chose ElasticHosts simply because:

  • they have partnership with Peer1 and ServerBeach, both of them considered quality providers.
  • Peer1 seems to be really good and fast network, we dont have problem with websites speeds in Slovakia, people from CZ, UK and US are all reporting very good speeds. Something we could not guarantee on local servers 
  • prices for the service were/are acceptable. I wonder how will the prices change in time with dedicated providers giving 1TB+ of traffic for free these days. Even ServerBeach gives 1TB of traffic with their cheapes dedicated server (£89 )
  • we cant be bothered with own hardware, costs and problems related to own dedicated servers. With dedicated server providers I don't like idea of waiting for support to change drive or memory for few hours (we have seen some horror stories), we prefer option of simply moving our VM into another HW
  • they have IaaS cloud platform and accept clients system images, own API and Elastichosts are gainong popularity with many scripts/packages supporting them directly
  • they have persistent storage up to size of 2 TB, hopefully prices for drive will get a bit lower in time
  • easy to use control panel, quick and easy creation and administration of various systems, no packages with fixed memory, cpu and drive for every package. You simply buy memory, drive, cpu and you can split whatever way you want. The minimum for first order is 2ghz cpu, 1024mb and rest you can do whatever you want
  • very quick support and sales responses (90% of responses comes from Anna, so she is either robot, workaholic or whoever replies they have they all have emails set as Anna)
  • very good documentation and FAQ, so good and big that I missed many important points but luckily support is really good and responsive and they replied to everything very quickly
  • I had technical problem so picked up a phone and ... they are live people so you can have chat and discuss technical things over the phone quickly
  • ... and finally because it is cloud/VPS/whatever you call it. If we don't like it, we simply download drive images and go to another cloud/VPS provider. Simple as that, no long contracts ...
There are few unanswered questions
  • How big and reliable they are? Time will tell, so far they had one problem with faulty router and they seemed to solve it quite quickly
  • What happens if there is a problem with the site outside their work hours? Phone switches to voice mail. 
  • All other providers have online system monitoring available to clients and public. Elastichosts don't have that now, they said they are planning to do it for public as well. So for time being I have been using Icinga to monitor all servers, network. 
  • Prices. Will they move as HW and connectivity gets cheaper? Fact is that Cloud hosting is simply more expensive than even dedicated server.
If you are interested, this is the Icinga Trends graph for last 7 days. You can see that outages were always at night, that's because we were configuring Win2k8. So not Elastichosts fault.

1 comment:

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