Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

What would be a good managed server solution for a design agency?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What would be a good managed server solution for a design agency?

    Hi,

    I'm new to the forums as we (the design agency i work for) are looking for a hosting solution to meet our requirements. I'm not looking for companies to tell me what they can offer - more an idea that my requirements are actually sensible. I don't know a huge amount about server administration so what i may say below may come across as a bit naive but that's why i'm asking this question.

    We currently host using a reseller package with a large provider based in the UK, offering some clients shared hosting (approx 150 sites - mainly wordpress and modx), some clients VPS hosting (approx 5 sites) and we also have a Dedicated server too (running a Magento site plus three other wordpress sites).

    What we would like to do is migrate away from this host - they don't offer managed VPS or dedicated servers and we want to move away from the shared hosting platform they offer too. We would essentially like to purchase a single, managed dedicated server and partition this to offer different environments that we can offer to our clients.

    We would like to purchase a quad core 1.8GHz server with 16GB memory, 4 x 500GB hard drives (to allow 1000GB storage with 1000GB RAID backup), 1TB bandwidth per month.

    Our idea is to partition the server and allocate the memory to different partitions. This would then allow us to offer different environments based on what the website requirements are and avoid site activity slowing other sites down. Essentially creating our own VPS solutions with an IP address assigned to each VPS.

    My questions:

    is this a sensible idea? Can it be done?
    If so what would be a sensible way to partition the server in regards to allocating resources? i.e. how much RAM per partition.
    Is it also sensible to run the email accounts on the same server or is there a better way to manage email? - I'm concerned about the implications of blacklisting (although we nor our clients practice spammy activity).
    Would another solution entirely be a better option such as Cloud VPS?

    We don't have megabucks to spend but we have a quotation from Melbourne Server Hosting for the spec i mentioned above that comes in at just under £400 per month. I'm guessing cloud VPS is a cheaper option?

    Thanks,

    Adam.
    Last edited by adambloomer; 7th November 2013, 02:15 PM.

  • #2
    Hi Adam,

    Do you need to go down the VM route or could give each client a shared hosting account on your own server? (think cPanel or DirectAdmin). VMs are cleaner but then you have the overheads of the VMs themselves because of the virtualisation, you'll waste RAM booting those various OSes, unless you need that segregation/allocation between your client sites. From the spec of the server you've mentioned, I would go shared hosting, and as you say, a managed box would serve you well and managing your client sites day-to-day would be a doddle. I understand what you mean about sites slowing others down, but you can monitor script times and CPU quite easily, and if you're designing the websites its easy to ensure you haven't got inefficient or bad code sitting in the scripts they use.

    In terms of emails, become a GoogleApps partner and use that platform, you'll be saving yourself a world of pain. It's very well priced and generous offerings, and "it just works". Hosting isn't your core business, after you're a design agency, so don't complicate things. Remember, if you sold it, you have to support it. For DNS signup for a large package with PointHQ.com and that way you can group and manage all your client domains there too, and give them sub-logins (just like with cPanel/DA) which lets them access their own domains if you need to give them access to their own domains as part of how you work with them (obviously they have the potential to then screw something up in the CP)

    What you want to achieve is all fairly simple, and fairly rinse/repeat on what has been done 100,000+++++ times before
    Joel Samuel
    WebHostChat Admin

    Tin Label Group[/COLOR]

    I represent my own views and not those of my companies or the forum(s) on which I moderate.[/SIZE]

    Comment


    • #3
      I have to agree with JSamuel.

      For the size of dedicated server you're going for you're probably going to run into RAM constraints very quickly (especially with Magento).

      If you decide to do it all yourself then GoogleApps and PointHQ are going to be huge time savers for you.

      If you go managed, you won't have those issues but you'll be paying more per month.

      If your time is at least as valuable per hour as the time you anticipate saving on having managed services then you should go managed.

      Your ideas are sensible but it does place all your eggs in one basket (and I'd say you don't have quite enough RAM).

      0.5GB for your host node
      4GB for your Magento + Wordpress
      4GB for your web hosting
      4GB for your existing VPS (no idea of the existing size)
      3.5GB for your own stuff (email, dns, web server?)

      These are all pulled out of thin air as there's no indication to the volumes of traffic you're driving so maybe more RAM to be allocated to your web hosting or possibly Magento if it's busy.

      Ultimately you may want to partition things better, i.e. is it possible to split your Magento + Wordpress into Magento and move the Wordpress users to the web hosting partition with your other Wordpress users?

      Personally, I would keep your own business operations off that hardware node. This is to separate your concerns.

      www.openitc.co.uk - We create, we host, we connect - Fully Managed VPS & Dedicated Hosting
      www.xenvz.co.uk - Premium, non-oversold UK based servers - Unmanaged VPS
      www.direvps.com - When nothing but price matters! - Brutal marketing for a brutal market!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
        is this a sensible idea? Can it be done?
        Can it be done - yes. Is it sensible - depends on your skillsets, how much you want to have to 'manage' the hardware, whether it allows for future expansion without a complete rebuild of the infrastructure, and various other factors.

        Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
        If so what would be a sensible way to partition the server in regards to allocating resources? i.e. how much RAM per partition.
        Depends entirely on the usage of each of the Virtual Machines and the requirements of the sites/os/supporting software.
        In general, the answer is 'as much as you can throw at it'
        There are also questions about what impact it may have in terms of the performance - will moving to a VM from a Dedi for your Magento site have an adverse effect on the client (and their sales) etc.

        Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
        Is it also sensible to run the email accounts on the same server or is there a better way to manage email? - I'm concerned about the implications of blacklisting (although we nor our clients practice spammy activity).
        Depends on the amount of email, the mail-server software footprint and so on. Blacklisting isn't really related to the technology you pick for hosting, and can be ignored from the discussion.

        Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
        Would another solution entirely be a better option such as Cloud VPS?
        Maybe, maybe not - cloud (and vps) are not a one-solution-fits-all despite what salepeople will tell you, and you may need several of them. There may also be the question of PCI for the ecommerce sites and other factors not yet thought of.

        Plus you'll still want 'offserver' backups, your clients will still expect access to a control panel, IP addresses are getting scarcer, so using more of them than you do now may have a significant cost implication, by moving to a single 'virtualised' machine, all your eggs are in one basket and dozens of other caveats.

        Maybe what you need is a consultant to come and go through the pros and cons with you
        Rob Golding Astutium Ltd AS#29527 Company#08183381 Phone#020 3475 2555
        Domain Name Registration - uk domains just £5.55/2 years | DNS Services | Web Hosting from £2.95 | Minecraft Servers from £2.50
        London Docklands Colocation 1u £49.95 | Virtual Private Servers from £4 | Virtual Dedicated Servers from £12 | Managed + Unmanaged Dedicated Servers from £69
        Make more money from domains - Talk to me about our Domain Reseller Accounts and WHMCS modules

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Adam,

          Partitioning the server like you have mentioned is a ultimately a VPS server. This would allow you to allocate individual resources (CPU, RAM & HDD) to each node individually and no one node could impact the others.

          The problem you have is I don't know any provider who will supply a VPS server and then manage it for you. You would normally rent a managed dedicated server and then rent individual managed VPS servers as required.

          My guess is you would need 5 x VPS servers and 2 Dedicated servers, 1 for your Magento site and 1 for all your Wordpress/modx sites and then the 5 VPS servers for each of the current ones. It sounds like you'll need managed servers as this should include backups and control panels etc and you should just be able to use the servers without worrying about making them work.

          Check with Melbourne if the price they have quoted is for a managed server or just the unmanaged box, if it's an unmanaged server then you'll need to configure it which isn't going to be an easy job if you don't have the experience.
          Neil Westlake - GoCreations - (01747 850200)

          UK based Hosting, Managed Virtual Servers and Dedicated Servers
          Web Host since 2005 - Authorised cPanel Partner.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
            We would essentially like to purchase a single, managed dedicated server and partition this to offer different environments that we can offer to our clients.
            As others have said, this is a "put all eggs in one basket" scenario, and that doesn't seem to be a great idea for your needs. You can easily distribute this workload across more physical machines, which means spreading your risk.

            Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
            We would like to purchase a quad core 1.8GHz server with 16GB memory, 4 x 500GB hard drives (to allow 1000GB storage with 1000GB RAID backup), 1TB bandwidth per month.
            I'm not sure if this is just a terminology thing, but remember - RAID is not backup!

            Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
            Our idea is to partition the server and allocate the memory to different partitions. This would then allow us to offer different environments based on what the website requirements are and avoid site activity slowing other sites down. Essentially creating our own VPS solutions with an IP address assigned to each VPS.
            As others mentioned, this creates some additional issues:
            1. Given that your primary focus needs to remain on your business (not running servers), you need your provider to manage the underlying physical server (virtualisation platform, host OS, configuration etc.) AND also each individual VPS. You'll need to discuss in-depth with your chosen provider to ensure that all of those issues are properly covered and that you fully understand what issues are your responsibility at the outset. Many many managed hosting providers will sell you something with a "managed" label, but actually do next-to-nothing in terms of server management for you (these are usually easy to spot by the fact you get root SSH; it's completely unworkable for this to be shared if the server is genuinely fully managed by your provider).
            2. The backup system/methodology needs to take into account that you're running this virtualised solution - not just when taking backups, but also in terms of restoration ability. You'll likely want to be able to restore an individual VPS without restoring (rolling back) the whole physical server, and potentially individual files / databases / database tables from inside each individual VPS. Make sure you have this angle properly covered off.
            3. Your ability to resize (e.g. for seasonal demand, taking on new clients, because your resource needs estimates were wrong etc.) is severely restricted. As soon as you go physical dedicated, you commit to a specific hardware spec; you can potentially change it, but it requires downtime and may also require painful migrations etc. which is the last thing you want to be wasting your time worrying about or your clients want to experience!


            Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
            Is it also sensible to run the email accounts on the same server or is there a better way to manage email? - I'm concerned about the implications of blacklisting (although we nor our clients practice spammy activity).
            To some extent this depends what your clients' needs are and what their budgets are. If they just want simple mailboxes it's quite simple and relatively painless to run them off your server without any real dramas. However if they want more features such as more aggressive spam filtering, shiney webmail clients, group collaboration tools (calendaring etc.) you'll probably find reselling something like MS Exchange (Office 365, Google Apps, Zimbra etc.) a better fit.

            That's all in relation to inbound / personal mailboxes.

            In terms of sending marketing email campaigns, I'd always advocate using one of the specialists (mailchimp, sendgrid, mailjet, activecampaign, campaign monitor etc.) for this sort of activity because they're far more feature rich than rolling your own (e.g. phplist) and none are prohibitively expensive.

            Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
            Would another solution entirely be a better option such as Cloud VPS?
            Splitting your clients up based on resource needs, PCI compliance issues etc. is a sound idea (also comes back to spreading risk as mentioned earlier) - rather than a Cloud VPS I'd advocate using multiple. The main benefit you'd get from this vs. dedicated is that you can scale them up/down more easily (how easily varies depending on tech / provider, so check on that detail) - it allows you to be a lot more flexible for your customers, which ultimately means you can deliver a much better service to them (keep them happier, help them be more successful, get more referrals etc.).

            Originally posted by adambloomer View Post
            the spec i mentioned above that comes in at just under £400 per month. I'm guessing cloud VPS is a cheaper option?
            A Cloud VPS is just a way of selling server resources; any way that you cut it, you're buying some server resources and the raw underlying cost of those resources will be ~similar no matter what (you'll see cost variations based on what's actually being offered, and level of costs to provide additional features - for example Cloud VPS may offer substantial redundancy/uptime features which you're not getting on your dedicated server, in which case there are underlying costs for the provider to deliver that infrastructure capability to you.

            I doubt you'd get a fully managed "everything that you need" physical dedicated server at the price point that you mentioned, but either way I'd encourage you to look first and foremost based on what you need and what benefits the various options will offer to you rather than focussing on the pricing too early on (price is "always" negotiable, and even if you find that you can't afford the perfect solution today, at least you will know it's out there for when that client need arises, or that you turned it down based on sound business reasons after a full cost/benefit analysis etc.).
            Last edited by Layershift Damien; 8th November 2013, 11:22 AM.

            Comment

            Working...
            X