Hosting client applications - part time developer

I do web development outside of work and I have three new projects
starting soon from a little brouchureware site to larger applications. I
have a personal hosting account with TextDrive that allows me to run 3
domains, this is not going to be big enough to host the apps for my
clients.

How do other people host Rails sites & apps for their clients? All this
talk of VPS solutions etc sounds fine if you were a full time developer
running your own business. I would like to charge my clients for the
hosting rather than have the hassle of them setting up accounts with
providers themselves, also that looks rather messy and uncopoerative and
these clients are not that tech savvy.

A small VPS is probably out of my price range for now as the cheapest I
have seen in the UK is £19.99 per month. Then I have the hassle of
setting the server up with Rails, Lighttpd (or that Mongrel thing ?).
Also with a VPS I take it that the running of the server is up to me.

My experience of trying to get an application working on TextDrive was
Hell. It kept crashing for no reason, using up too much resources etc.
Rails may be easy to build but its damn hard to deploy especially of the
work is for clients and you need the site to be up!

What would people recommend?

A slightly confused Rails developer.

If you’re at all concerned about uptime, you probably want to steer
clear of shared hosting, at this point. The good news is that several
Rails-specific VPS solutions are available now. I can’t vouch for any
of these personally, but as a starting point check:

rimuhosting.com
railsmachine.com
engineyard.com

There are lots of threads on this list, so a search through the
archives will give you plenty more information should you need.

Good luck!

On Wed, Jul 05, 2006, James W. wrote:

How do other people host Rails sites & apps for their clients? All this
talk of VPS solutions etc sounds fine if you were a full time developer
running your own business. I would like to charge my clients for the
hosting rather than have the hassle of them setting up accounts with
providers themselves, also that looks rather messy and uncopoerative and
these clients are not that tech savvy.

You don’t have to be full-time to have a nice server. It’s one of those
things you should invest in, your clients will be impressed if you can
handle that portion for them.

A small VPS is probably out of my price range for now as the cheapest I
have seen in the UK is £19.99 per month. Then I have the hassle of
setting the server up with Rails, Lighttpd (or that Mongrel thing ?).
Also with a VPS I take it that the running of the server is up to me.

If you’re charging your clients for hosting, I would suggest that your
price range should go up significantly. Proper hosting is not cheap,
and part of your job is to explain that to the client. Cut-rate hosting
means inevitable downtime, and businesses are always willing to pay to
avoid that.

For comparison, I’ve deployed a brochure site to a host at $20/mo, which
we’re passing on to the client. They were ecstatic it was so cheap.
Multiply that by three and you can afford a fairly nice VPS. That was
under a specific request to find cheap hosting, though. We normally
recommend much more expensive hosts.

As far as running it, you’re right. That’s the way it goes, though.
You either have a shared host where you’re going to run into problems
like you describe, or you have to learn some sysadmin stuff.

You might want to look into http://railsmachine.com/, which offers some
kind of specialized Rails hosting that I believe are semi-managed VPS.
You might also consider moving from TextDrive to another of the Rails
webhosts. I’ve seen Planet Argon (http://planetargon.com) recommended
by people I know to have experience in deploying apps. I’ve personally
had a pretty decent experience with DreamHost, but I wouldn’t put too
big a site up there.

My experience of trying to get an application working on TextDrive was
Hell. It kept crashing for no reason, using up too much resources etc.
Rails may be easy to build but its damn hard to deploy especially of the
work is for clients and you need the site to be up!

It’s really not that hard to deploy. It’s tough to find a webhost who
is doing it right. Some of the technology further up the stack (ie,
FastCGI) is a total pain in a shared environment, and apparently it’s
really hard to get right.

What would people recommend?

My best suggestion is to suck it up, have a talk with your clients, and
go get yourself either a VPS (rimuhosting is pretty popular) or a
less-expensive dedicated server (I hear good things about layeredtech).

Ben

James W. wrote:

A small VPS is probably out of my price range for now as the cheapest I
have seen in the UK is £19.99 per month. Then I have the hassle of
setting the server up with Rails, Lighttpd (or that Mongrel thing ?).
Also with a VPS I take it that the running of the server is up to me.

I’ll pimp Bytemark (www.bytemark.co.uk) who’ll give you a basic VPS for
15+VAT per month, or 150 for the year. You can manage your own DNS
with them and host as many apps, domains servers etc as you like. The
basic spec is not brilliant, but you can upgrade as you get more clients
hosted.

I have two separate VMs with them and have been very happy.

A.

On Jul 5, 2006, at 7:56 AM, TJ Stankus wrote:

The good news is that several
Rails-specific VPS solutions are available now. I can’t vouch for any
of these personally, but as a starting point check:

rimuhosting.com

These guys are great.

railsmachine.com

These guys are really great. :slight_smile:

engineyard.com

Thanks for the PR, but we’re not ready yet and won’t be in Jame’s
price range. We’re targeting business critical applications and
non-stop availability along with rationalized and simplified
deployment.

Additionally, we’re not a VPS solution, per se, though Xen is part of
our stack. We’ll be selling portions of a fully redundant cluster, as
opposed to portions of a single box.


– Tom M.

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