Hosting costs for a small up!

Hey friends!

I am in the process of drafting a funding proposal to submit to my
university and I have no idea what costs I should include for my Rails
app.
My application will open to my university’s students. We are about 1600
students, so the app will handle few requests. The stack is a pretty
standard one: Rails and Postgres, with probably some in-memory
processing
later on. I do however want to expand the application to few other
schools
so I expect the potential user base to grow. Still, I probably won’t
have
over 1000+ or so users at best in the first year, which is what funding
is
for.

How much do you think the costs will be? I tried Heroku but to be honest
I
am still confused by their choice of terminology and I also read that
their
costs go up fairly quickly. How about a virtual server somewhere? How
viable is that solution for someone never managed a virtual server?

Best,

Hi,

I was going to suggest heroku (the free service) so you can test how it
handles all the students, but seems you want more than that.
Maybe linode? Where I work, we been using it for almost a year. We’ve
started with linode 512 and now we are using 1024.
Despite 2 interrumptions we had during this time, everything work great.
Another option could be Webfaction.

http://www.linode.com/
http://www.webfaction.com/services/hosting

Javier

I will look into Linode. Thanks Javier.

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM, Javier Q. [email protected]
wrote:

http://www.webfaction.com/services/hosting

university and I have no idea what costs I should include for my Rails app.
their costs go up fairly quickly. How about a virtual server somewhere? How
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Mohamed Wael Khobalatte

Thank you so much Paul. These are awesome resources.

On Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 8:56 PM, Paul M. [email protected] wrote:

If your start-up idea might even win some money :slight_smile:

university and I have no idea what costs I should include for my Rails


Mohamed Wael Khobalatte

Take a look at Amazon EC2 esp. since they make considerations for
those involved in education,

http://aws.amazon.com/education/

Even if you’re not in education they have a free micro instance you
can play with and might even be enough for you to at least get going,

http://aws.amazon.com/free/

If your start-up idea might even win some money :slight_smile:

http://aws.amazon.com/startupchallenge/

Paul (who hosts also at Joyent, Rackspace and Bytemark (UK))

On Friday, 9 November 2012 12:57:53 UTC-5, why-el wrote:

over 1000+ or so users at best in the first year, which is what funding is
for.

How much do you think the costs will be? I tried Heroku but to be honest I
am still confused by their choice of terminology and I also read that their
costs go up fairly quickly. How about a virtual server somewhere? How
viable is that solution for someone never managed a virtual server?

Costs can go up pretty quick on Heroku, but your application doesn’t
sound
like it would need a whole lot of resources. If nothing else, starting
out
on the free plans on Heroku will provide you with a better understanding
of
how much server you’ll actually need.

Another potential downside to a plain virtual server (on places like
Linode
or EC2) is that you’ll need to be able to configure the whole web stack

all you’ll get from the company is a server instance that’s running the
Linux flavor of your choice that you can SSH into, everything else is up
to
you. An environment like Heroku gives you a pre-setup stack that you
just
push code to. That may or may not be better for you - if you’ve got lots
of
sysadmin experience and like to set up everything manually, Heroku will
drive you crazy. On the other hand, if you’re relatively unfamiliar with
setting up a web stack (Apache / Passenger, for instance) and all the
other
services (outgoing mail, firewall, etc) then a plain virtual server
could
be a lot of extra effort.

–Matt J.

On Sat, Nov 10, 2012 at 6:02 PM, Matt J. [email protected] wrote:

Costs can go up pretty quick on Heroku, but your application doesn’t sound
like it would need a whole lot of resources. If nothing else, starting out
on the free plans on Heroku will provide you with a better understanding of
how much server you’ll actually need.

Put your basic arithmetic skills where your words are and prove
that… instead of being so broad that it’s pretty much FUD. Here let
me start you out in a ghetto system like Heroku:

1xBalancer ($20 a month + Bandwidth) = Router, 1xMicro Server ($15 a
month) = Application Server, 1xMicro Server ($15 a month) = Database
Server. Total cost at Heroku for the same = $0, of your own $45 +
Bandwidth

Lets jump up to 2 Dynos:

1xBalancer ($20 a month + Bandwidth) = Router, 1xMicro Server ($15 a
month) = Application Server, 1xMicro Server ($15 a month) =
Application Server, 1xMicro Server ($15 a month) = Database Server.
Total cost at Heroku for the same = $35, of your own $65 + Bandwidth.

Lets jump up to 3 Dynos:

1xBalancer ($20 a month + Bandwidth) = Router, 1xMicro Server ($15 a
month) = Application Server, 1xMicro Server ($15 a month) =
Application Server, 1xMicro Server ($15 a month) = Application
Server., 1xMicro Server ($15 a month) = Database Server, Total cost at
Heroku for the same = $70, of your own $80.

At 4 dynos you have a choice to make, because realistically you will
start hitting limits, that could happen as soon as 3 dynos maybe
sooner depending on the site. So at 4 dynos lets design it a bit
different (and round up and use the industry average of 750 to
calculate cost.)

1xBalancer ($20 a month + Bandwidth) = Router, 1xSmall Server ($50 a
month) = Application Server, 1xSmall Server ($50 a month) =
Application Server, 1xSmall Server ($50 a month) = Database Server,
Total cost at Heroku for “similar” = $157 ($50 for the Crane), of your
own $170 (with micro, it’s $130 only a $27 savings.)

Now, there comes a point where you make a choice, do you need more
data or do you need more concurrency. What I mean by that is, do you
rely on your db more than you rely on your application? For some sites
(like Twitter) this is the clear case, so you have a choice to make
there, do you use Heroku for it all? Or do you save a crap tonne of
money and use your own AWS for the database and Heroku for the routing
and application hosting? The only way to weigh that cost is to factor
in sysops. People often forget that sysops is a major part of
platform design, without them your design will more than likely fail
eventually or turn into your fulltime job killing your dev.

There is also the need to factor in db design, Heroku knows how to do
db’s, they pay some very smart people who have worked on Postgres
themselves to help them design it. Do you really think they can’t do
it better than you? Are you willing to scrap the duplication they
offer as well as off-site backups (more than likely) to save some
money?

People don’t leave Heroku because of price, it’s not expensive, people
leave Heroku because of infrastructure needs, at some point you end up
deciding it’s more beneficial to have your own sysops managing your
own infrastructure on AWS than to rely on Heroku, that reason is
entirely your own and most of the time it’s completely valid
(sometimes it’s just ignorant assumption that it’s cheaper to run your
own servers. In the op’s case it could be cheaper depending on how he
plays the AWS card get clever.)

  • Note all prices are based on you just ordering a server, not you
    reserving it like Heroku does at that point the math costs and it
    really depends on whether you’ll use the entire year or not (because
    really, the discount is only worth it if you buy a year of
    reservation.) They also don’t factor in any sysops costs… There are
    always sysops costs, and even if it’s your own time you assume is
    free, time is money, money is wasted if you spend more time doing
    sysops than devops (if you are the developer), hell, money is wasted
    if you have to do sysops period, because that’s less time doing
    meaningful refactors to add in features.

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