Is Cloud Hosting right for me?

our office is growing and so is the need to better manage our domains/sites that we run.

We don’t build web apps (except smallish private ones) but we do frequently build traditional mostly ExpressionEngine powered websites.

Currently we run multiple shared hosting solution: Host Gator, MediaTemple GS and a local (New Zealand) one called Ramsu.

We’re beginning to build more and more international websites so hosting locally is no longer a core necessity, speed however is.

MediaTemple is very slow, at least for us in New Zealand so ideally whatever ‘solution’ we move to will be reasonably fast all around the world (or at least allow us to manage multiple locations from within one account).

We’re a relatively small design agency and don’t have a sysadmin in-house and our server guy is not particularly keen on going into the fully self managed dedicated virtual server field.

Looking for something that can accommodate our 60-80 websites that we currently run, I came across RackSpace Cloud Sites which looks really really nice, my question now:

Is RackSpace Cloud Sites (or an alternative that is equally scalable?) the best option for us? Or is cloud hosting only beneficial to web application, but not traditional websites?

We currently run and host around 60-80 sites on different shared hosting environments so ideally we’d find 1 solution to fit them all so we don’t have all these different hosts and locations to manage.

Reliability is getting increasingly important for us since our clients are becoming larger organizations and business critical sites (Hotel & Resorts for instance) where we cannot have any downtime.

Any advice would be much appreciated since I have no experience with hosting other than shared hosting solutions.

Thanks for reading the lengthy post.
I look forward to your help and suggestions.

surprised to hear it will require actual server management without an abstraction layer between that and myself.

I think that’s a difference between their cloud sites and cloud servers service. One is managed by them, the other is not and you get root access.

Hi wheeler,
thanks for your reply.

Judging by what the Cloud Sites screenshots looked like it seemed like a very user friendly (read: pretty) interface for managing ones sites… surprised to hear it will require actual server management without an abstraction layer between that and myself.

I just took a good look at Linode and their support document library. While I can grasp what you’re saying about the quality of their service I have to be honest and say as a web designer without any server knowledge it is far too daunting to see the shell box that much…

I realise that at some point someone at my office (i’m just an employee) will have to actually get a sysadmin in to do this type of stuff but having said that what we need now is something that can be used with some kind of good GUI for those not comfortable with shell code.

I see that you’re in Australia, have you got a recommendation for hosting in the Australasia (shared or otherwise)? We’re looking for something that can give us good speed for our NZ and OZ customer base of a site we’re building at the moment. (sorry this is a little off topic).

you will find with rackspace type cloud solutions, that you still have to manage the operating system as you would with a dedicated server.

The advantage is that in the event of hardware failure, your websites should move to other hardware without any downtime. Compare this to a standalone dedicated server where hardware failure can be disastrous, and redundancy comparatively expensive.

Certainly being in NZ you will suffer accessing American or European servers (just like we suffer a bit in Oz), but as you say, this is relative to where the end users are located, so being located on either of those continents might be better for the majority. Depending on the volume and frequency of data that you are transferring, this can be perfectly bearable.

One pretty cool VPS solution is called Linode, you get access to great hardware and can select and distribute websites over their various data centers in the US and Europe - or keep them all on a larger slice. It also comes with a great control panel.

In terms of stability I believe that is the best solution for everyone. But I believe everything depends on the budget you have for this

Some decent cloud server solution that will not break your bank are and

We’ve used both of them and are pretty stable with good support.

It will be the best solution for you as the number of site are more than 70 and the nubmers are going to increase you need scalable hosting go for cloud hosting

Cloud Sites certainly looks like it comes with a nice GUI as well, I can’t say for certain exactly what is and isn’t semi-automated, however I think you’ll find that whilst you can deploy an up-to-date OS in an instant (awesome), to keep it up to date with future patches, you will have to manually run commands at the shell.

This is more or less the same setup as Linode except “in the cloud”.

I wish I could recommend someone in our part of the world, but to be honest i’m still looking for a provider that ticks all boxes. Certainly if you just want a fast server the choices are many. The issue is adequate customer service and reasonable pricing.

Have you ever worked with a GUI like cPanel/WHM? The advantage of something like that is you can run it on a VPS or dedicated, it patches automatically, and it handles backup and recovery fairly nicely as well, if you were to go for dedicated hardware.

I’m not saying its perfect, but it does fill the gap between shared hosting and a dedicated sysadmin fairly nicely, and most web design level people can work with it.

I stand corrected, I was reading from the cloud servers page.

If you don’t need root access it sounds like a pretty good solution.

I think the one good dedicated server will be enough for you needs

thanks for your feedback.

Cloud Sites does sound like a really neat solution for us. Now that I’ve found all this out my colleague is complaining that he won’t be able to run some kind of integrated SVN setup without root access, but I guess it’s either full root and him sorting all the server stuff out or just not use versioning on the live server…

That’s the US/EU setup sorted, now we still need to find a reliable and fast australia/new zealand host.
Any recommendations? Ideally also a fully managed solution…

I believe that is good idea to move to the cloud hosting only if you really need that.

My advice is for purchase one dedicated server

A dedicated server wouldn’t provide you with enough power in the short or long haul. Cloud is perfect for your situation I believe. I personally have never used or needed cloud hosting simply because VPS is still powerful for me.

That is entirely subjective as it depends alot more on the volume of traffic and the resource usage of the websites that are hosted, combined with the hardware at hand.

In terms of CPU grunt I think you’ll find dedicated servers are still very cost effective.

Full disclosure, I work for Rackspace, and it sounds like Cloud Sites is a fantastic option for you. We maintain the infrastructure, security, patching, etc. You don’t have root access to the servers but from what I can tell, you don’t want that. Cloud Sites is month to month with no long-term contracts. If I can assist or answer any questions for you, feel free to post 'em here. I also use skype with the same username. :slight_smile:

Hello there,
we spoke to rackspace but it turned out Cloud Sites is unable to run ExpressionEngine’s Multiple Site Manager that we frequently use since the MSM plugin requires the specified domains to be on the same server and that apparently could not be guaranteed with the way cloud sites operates.

Ahhh… gotcha. How about a cloud server?

That one isn’t managed… i think?

Just sent you a private message. :slight_smile: Coming REAL soon. Days away! Hang tight!