When Hostgator and BlueHost along with a myriad of other hosting companies owned by Endurance International Group went down Twitter was abuzz with mad clients complaining. Many of which had no local copies of their site(s). Nor did they have a backup plan for them or if applied, their clients. It is understandable that web designers wanna save on their overhead and host their clients site as cheaply as possible. But in this and many other cases you get what you pay for. I have worked for over 15 years creating fully redundant datacenter and cloud infrastructure for numerous companies. In my vocabulary “downtime” is a four letter word.
With todays cloud environments you can have full redundancy and minimize the impact of an outage be it localized or geographic. There is always the possibility of having the dreaded downtime but it can be minimized inexpensively for mission critical things.
Small businesses can’t be hosted by the all-inclusive shared server account model that many of the largest (and cheapest) hosting companies provide. This is a remnant of circa 1995 business model for hosting. Where a shared account is used to host website, email, FTP, DNS, and the kitchen sink. It’s understandable that something like a website being down might not be the end of the world for some SMBs but having email down along with every other service they need can be detrimental. We all know putting all your eggs in one basket is never an optimal idea.
Let alone the security issues that come with shared hosting. If one site is compromised due to a simple cross site scripting or other issue the whole server will be taken over. Leaving your site and data as collateral damage to someone else’s mistakes.
There is a need for a revised method of providing SMBs and independent web designers to get cheap but reliable (including well architected) hosting.
It is not 1995 anymore…
I use many devices in many places and find simple set-it-and-forget-it services like Dropbox make my life much easier. I always need access to many different files on a daily basis. Yet I like many others are not comfortable with some of the privacy policies or terms of service most 3rd party services force you to agree to. Plus there is the expense of many of these services. With broadband and DSL speeds offering such great speeds it seems a waste to have a computer at home with much of your music and videos along with important files much too big to be stored even on Dropbox.
Using ownCloud to be your Own Cloud
Most home routers and WFi routers have built in support for dynamic DNS. This allows you to have a subdomain (or top level domain) pointed at your home connection that used DHCP to give you an IP. This means your IP can change and the dynamic DNS service repoints your domain to the new IP. Thus, allowing you to access your home network from anywhere. What I will be describing is installing all needed packages and ownCloud on Debian based system, namely in this example Ubuntu Server Edition 12.04 LTS.
You can also use this example to setup ownCloud using the AWS Free Tier to create your own true cloud based Dropbox replacement for you and your entire family. Simple setup an AWS account and enable EC2, and S3 (optionally). Then fire up a micro instance of Ubuntu Server. Connect an additional EBS volume for added storage. You can also use this same instance to run your own VPN/SSH tunneler, but that is for another post.
I was reading an interesting article on Inhabitat about various large IT companies working to create code auditors that audit for energy efficiency. Being that server farms are a huge user of energy it makes perfect sense to not only try to use renewable energy sources to power them. But to go to the source of the issue and insure the code itself is as efficient as possible. It’s a simple idea but one that to be honest had never crossed my mind. You could compare it to a house that uses old fashioned everything that is an energy hog and is powered by solar. So it takes 10 times as many solar panels to run the house which basically cancels out any impact to the environment since the non-renewable energy used to make the solar panels to begin with. The article also pointed out a Greenpeace campaign called “COOL IT” that gives report cards to big IT companies and their use of renewable energy. To my surprise Cisco seems to be at the forefront. The stranger thing was I saw no mention of Amazon, who is one of the biggest cloud providers around now.