Let's talk about hosting companies

A rails app I wrote for a client needs a new hosting company.
Currently it’s being served by textdrive under the $15 shared hosting
plan. However, we’re running into some problems with the setup and
the client wants us to use a dedicated machine.

  • The biggest problem we’re experiencing is the production server has
    been crashing at least once a week since March. This is main thing
    that’s upsetting me and the client. I’m pretty sure it’s not us as
    all of our exceptions are being handled.

  • The client always intended this application to be run on a dedicate
    machine. Currently, the app doesn’t have any performance problems and
    it’s an internal site so it’s not going to be slash-dotted anytime
    soon. But still, they want to peace of mind to know that the site has
    plenty of room for growth.

  • Also, I want to use a mongrel_cluster based deployment. Textdrive
    uses lighttpd, which has been okay. But I’m more familiar with
    mongrel and it seems quite fast for our needs.

  • My client also wants this machine to run a few static and PHP driven
    sites. Shouldn’t be a problem with apache though.

  • The client also wants the machine to run a mail server. This is
    where my experience drops off a bit. A few people in my company have
    suggested I use plesk or some other web-gui tool to configure this.

Given these requirements, can anyone suggest some hosting companies to
investigate?

– RYAN

If you do not need your own physical machine (and all the headaches
that go with that), check out Engine Y… I am very pleased with
their service, and they provide a depth of operational support you
can not afford short of a major site. They support redundant virtual
private servers so your client would not need to worry. I can assure
you that your up time would be better than a standalone box you need
to manage yourself.

Michael
PS. I am not affiliated with them, just a satisfied customer

You’re probably right in terms of the headaches on deploying to a
dedicated machine. That’s why VPS appeals to me more and more each
day. Tell me, does EngineYard offer DNS and email server
configuration through some sort of cPanell? I’m looking for something
more than, “Ya, we do that. Go ahead and install it, then spendd a
week configuring it yourself.”

– RYAN

They use a mail service which includes 5 accounts, and you can add
more as needed. All admin is over the web, and nothing you install.
It supports POP and IMAP for clients.

They really offer production level deployment with no hassles.

Michael

Ryan S. wrote:

A rails app I wrote for a client needs a new hosting company.

– RYAN

It sounds to me like this website doesn’t really need the “big iron”
that you would be paying for at EngineYard. If you want a provider that
has over-the-top support, I would suggest RimuHosting.com. They can set
you up with as much performance as you need for less than EY would and
their support is, as they say, worth raving about. EY is probably good
too, but is more expensive and is, I think, intended for high traffic
sites.

jp

On 6/19/07, Jeff P. [email protected] wrote:

their support is, as they say, worth raving about. EY is probably good
too, but is more expensive and is, I think, intended for high traffic
sites.

EngineYard has a couple nice things going for it:

  1. You’re basically getting another member of your team to handle
    server stuff. You don’t have to configure jack no your servers.
    Seriously, just give them the svn url, and they’ll give you a
    capistrano deploy file. These guys know there stuff when it comes to
    deploying rails apps.

  2. The slices that you pay for run only rails/nginx. They’re not busy
    dealing with database/svn/email stuff. Those are all managed by EY
    for you. I think email boxes are provided through webmail.us, and the
    EY email servers only handle SMTP…

Also, Rails Machine is a great VPS host too. Top notch support, and
your VPS slice will be running a rails app in minutes after receiving
your root password. It comes with the rails stack preinstalled.


Rick O.
http://lighthouseapp.com
http://weblog.techno-weenie.net
http://mephistoblog.com

Given these requirements, can anyone suggest some hosting companies to
investigate?

I still think it’s hard to beat 1and1.com (or .co.uk or .de) on price
for what you get. I have two servers with them now and reason to call
their tech support on several occasions and they seem decent enough.
Stuff seems to take “hours” to fix rather than say “minutes”, but I
think if you lean on them then it shouldn’t take “days” to fix stuff
(this is just an estimate based on what I see, no evidence…)

What I do is log in via the serial console, boot into the rescue distro
and reformat the drives and install the OS of my choice. Then I stick a
bunch of vservers on the machine…

Ed W

Pat,

When was this? I have been using them for several months, and while
there was an issue about the time I started, it is been quite solid
for the time we have been there.

Michael

On 6/19/07, Ryan S. [email protected] wrote:

  • My client also wants this machine to run a few static and PHP driven

I would get a VPS and manage it yourself. It’s really not hard to
manage assuming you’re controlling everything. Servers get tough to
manage when you try to host a bunch of people running crappy software.

You should be careful with EngineYard. We hosted our service there
for a few months and it was ridiculously unstable. Also it never had
anything to do with our code - the DB server would crash, drop
connections, stuff like that. It was just unacceptable considering
how much we were paying. Apparently those outages didn’t affect all
the customers, and they say that we were unlucky in that we
experienced a lot more outages than others. We signed up with them
initially because we felt we could just focus on our app and let them
handle the deployment. By the end of our time with them, we all
honestly had trouble sleeping because we’d lie in bed thinking, “Man I
hope EY doesn’t go down.”

We’ve been running a couple dedicated servers located at Voxel and
haven’t experienced a single problem. It has been a huge relief to
move off of EY and handle deployment ourselves. It’s not that tough
and we don’t have any stability issues.

Pat

On Jun 20, 2007, at 4:07 PM, Pat M. wrote:

connections, stuff like that. It was just unacceptable considering
how much we were paying. Apparently those outages didn’t affect all
the customers, and they say that we were unlucky in that we
experienced a lot more outages than others. We signed up with them
initially because we felt we could just focus on our app and let them
handle the deployment. By the end of our time with them, we all
honestly had trouble sleeping because we’d lie in bed thinking, “Man I
hope EY doesn’t go down.”

Hello all.

Ouch! :frowning:

Pat and twistage did indeed have bad Engine Y. experience. His
description of that experience is 100% accurate. We’ve apologized for
the experience they had and refunded hosting fees as they requested.

They are however, the only customer that has ever left Engine Y.
unhappy.

This is not to suggest that we haven’t had our share of challenges,
some of which were technical, others related to very rapid growth.
One thing our customers appreciate is transparency in the face of
those challenges. We’ve implemented such things as a weekly all-
customer conference call where we can get direct feedback from
customers on a regular basis, etc.

It’s painful to us that one of our customers had their experience,
and we are working hard and taking steps to ensure this never happens
again.

Here are some well know sites hosted at Engine Y. and their uptimes
for the month of June, according to our external multi-POP monitoring
service.

bonnaroo.com 99.982%
lighthouseapp.com 100.000%
hivelogic.com 99.929%

We’ve recently avoided the issues that they experienced by shuffling
around some cluster resources, and we’re extremely happy to report
that the root of the problem, a Xen crash bug associated with disk I/
O, appears to be fixed in the latest release of Xen.

We’re testing this new release on our second cluster, and once we’re
convinced that this new Xen version performs better than the previous
version, we will roll this update out to the existing cluster as well.

Hopefully one or more of our customers will come to our defense here,
and explain their decision to use Engine Y. in their own terms.


– Tom M., CTO
– Engine Y., Ruby on Rails Hosting
– Support, Scalability, Reliability
– (866) 518-YARD (9273)

I have been very pleased with Engine Y… The thing that is crystal
clear to me and seems to be overlooked
when talking about self-hosting or self managed hosting is that then
the organization / developer needs to do
the management. A raw VPS solution still requires 24/365 support
staff that are knowledgeable about all the
various aspects of hosting a site. For a site short of several
million hits a month that is unrealistic. Getting a single
box or VPS node up and running is possible by most of us, but
keeping a site up that is using replicated
databases and is running on several nodes is way more trouble than a
small shop can justify. In my experience
unless you are a world class sys-admin the “do it yourself” solution
to this problem is far worse then using a service.

Even with Engine Y.'s longest outage their up time is enviable by
most IT shops, and would be very hard to beat
without a staff > 5 people dedicated to that task. They have also
been far more responsive than the typical IT shop.

I look on them as more an IT outsourcing play than a raw hosting
play. For me and my clients this makes far more
sense. And, when something goes wrong (as it always dose no mater
who is doing it), I bust their chops about it,
and it gets resolved quickly. I can not ask more than that.

Michael

I’m using Rails Machine and am very happy with them. You can get a 256-
Mbyte VPS for $75 or a full physical machine for $500. Unless this app
has pretty high usage, you may be fine with the VPS. For a little more
money, you can get a bigger VPS so you can run more mongrels.

The rails stack there is completely turnkey, but you do have to set up
your own solution for mail, backups, and monitoring. I’ve invested in
doing that and I don’t regret it, but it wasn’t quick (when I was
doing it myself) or cheap (when I hired an experienced sysadmin to do
it for me). Bradley Taylor, who runs Rails Machine, is the author of
mongrel_cluster, so you know you’re in good hands when it comes to
understanding the technology deeply.

Engine Y. is a big step up from a shared textdrive account, and if
you have a high-volume app, it is probably worth it. But Rails Machine
is a great solution for an intermediate level. For me, it is far more
cost-effective that Engine Y., because I run lots of low-traffic
sites, for which Engine Y.'s pricing model isn’t really viable. At
Rails Machine, for $500/month I can run 16 256-Mbyte VPSs, each of
which can handle 4-5 mongrels.

Michael
www.mslater.com


original post:

A rails app I wrote for a client needs a new hosting company.
Currently it’s being served by textdrive under the $15 shared hosting
plan. However, we’re running into some problems with the setup and
the client wants us to use a dedicated machine.

On this topic, anyone got any bright ideas for a
reasonable Ruby / Rails hosting company in the UK? I
have a couple of clients who would like to migrate
some of my existing and (primarily) perl applications
to Ruby and Rails at some point… Sadly the hosting
company I currently use which is cheap and reliable to
the point of being uneventful period has no plans in
the immediate future to provide a Ruby / Rails
environment.

Steve

— Pat M. [email protected] wrote:

machine. Currently, the app doesn’t have any
familiar with
suggested I use plesk or some other web-gui tool

for a few months and it was ridiculously unstable.
signed up with them
haven’t experienced a single problem. It has been a
huge relief to
move off of EY and handle deployment ourselves.
It’s not that tough
and we don’t have any stability issues.

Pat


Yahoo! oneSearch: Finally, mobile search
that gives answers, not web links.
http://mobile.yahoo.com/mobileweb/onesearch?refer=1ONXIC

I would also recommend a VPS for what you need. We use Slicehost.com
and they are SOLID with really great (almost unbelievable) prices with
a 256MB VPS starting at $20/month (1GB for $70/month). If you need
more resources, you can up/downgrade automatically from your control
panel in-between the different plans and it takes all of 5min to
complete. We’ve been there 8 months with no downtime so far (besides
upstream scheduled maintenance.)

On 6/20/07, Tom M. [email protected] wrote:

You should be careful with EngineYard. We hosted our service there

Hello all.

Ouch! :frowning:

Pat and twistage did indeed have bad Engine Y. experience. His
description of that experience is 100% accurate. We’ve apologized for
the experience they had and refunded hosting fees as they requested.

They are however, the only customer that has ever left Engine Y.
unhappy.

I want to add a bit, since upon rereading my response it seems I
ripped into you pretty good.

I think that the problems we experienced with EY were purely technical
and really had nothing to do with the people. They’re a sharp bunch
that worked with us to solve the problems we experienced. When we
decided to leave, they were very gracious.

Personally, I enjoyed working with them. They were pleasant to talk
to and VERY eager to solve any problems. Unfortunately, the tech side
of it was just unstable and that was unacceptable to our business.
I’m sure that if we need help scaling in the future, we’ll consult
them for advice as I’m not sure there’s a group that knows more about
Rails deployment than them.

Pat

Check out http://www.railshostinginfo.com for a comparison of some of
the UK based Rails hosting companies.

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