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View Full Version : Doing Some Consulting Work - Web Hosting Ideas


The Rick
05-17-2005, 10:26 AM
I've been contacted by a small startup company with an interest in hiring me to do some consulting work for them with the hopes of growing the company enough to make my position a full-time one. It's a long story about how I got contacted, but I've worked for small company's in the past and miss it so I'm interested. I'm also interested in getting in on the ground floor of something and creating myself a nice opportunity for the future including potential part-ownership (if he ends up not being able to pay me what I'm worth).

For the past three years I've been working for local government doing mostly web programming, software administration, and project management. However, before that, I worked for five years at a small ISP and by the time I left, I was co-managing network operations for the company and I had built a lot of the infrastructure.

Building the web hosting infrastructure is exactly what this guy wants me to come in and do. It's a technology company and they're looking at providing a handful of services including hosting, remote monitoring and administration, etc.

So, I have experience in this kind of stuff, but I'm three years behind the industry curve and need to catch up.

Anyone have any good advice for building a state-of-the-art infrastructure for web hosting?

HC_Chief
05-17-2005, 10:38 AM
Cisco certifcation route.... don't actually have to get the cert; just study the technology.

As far as the host systems are concerned, it depends on the platform. If M$, study up on Windows Server 2003, .NET and IIS. If *nix, Apache/Zeus.

penguinz
05-17-2005, 10:53 AM
Anyone have any good advice for building a state-of-the-art infrastructure for web hosting?Secure access to DataCenter, Needs proper cooling in summer, redundant inet connectivity with a large amount of B/W, redundant power (battery backup as well as generator). After getting the building enviroment where you need it then it is time to get your network infrastructure together.

Simplex3
05-17-2005, 10:59 AM
Unless your employer is dead set on doing MS stuff don't go that route. Take it from someone with an MCSE and two MCSDs, one in C#.NET, *nix is the way to go.

We used to have all Windows servers and we spent an inordinate amount of time keeping them up to date and secure. Add to that the license costs, the hardware required to run it, the fact that you will, without a doubt, need a firewall in front of it and your life turns into a nightmare.

We switched out of MS completely a little over a year ago and went with FreeBSD. We've only rebooted once and that wasn't required. I spend MAYBE 5m a week checking up on it, other than that it just runs. It sits out on the web, no firewall. It does the same amount of work with half the hardware. As a matter of fact, I get great hardware for cheap because I use stuff the Windows guys have to get rid of. I never pay anyone a nickle for license fees, all of that money goes right to my business.

As for the "learning curve" people, they're right. You've used Windows, you can jump right in and use Windows server. Of course you don't know what the hell you're doing, so you'll likely wind up screwing it up, but you can get in and do it. Any proper sysadmin will need to learn the new OS top to bottom before they get started anyway.

What all do we do on our one *nix server?

Web (Apache httpd)
Web stats (AWStats)
FTP (vsftp)
Database (PostgreSQL)
DNS (Bind)
eMail (Postfix)
--SMTP w/TLS
--POP3
--IMAP (Dovecot)
--Virus scanning (ClamAV)
--Spam filtering (Spamassassin)
----Shared blacklisting
----Baysian filtering
----Statistical filtering

We actually host services for our customers, so the box is not babied. It puts in its time, it gets its abuse. Never so much as a hicup.

Simplex3
05-17-2005, 11:02 AM
Secure access to DataCenter, Needs proper cooling in summer, redundant inet connectivity with a large amount of B/W, redundant power (battery backup as well as generator). After getting the building enviroment where you need it then it is time to get your network infrastructure together.
What he said. You're almost always better off renting space in a rack somewhere than you are trying to build up enough of a datacenter yourself unless you plan on having dozens of servers or more. We rent out our space @ $100/u/month.

The Rick
05-17-2005, 11:06 AM
Thanks guys for the responses. It appears that even though I'm three years separated from this stuff, it hasn't changed too much. Before, when I was doing this stuff we were running Linux with Apache, PHP, mySQL, qmail, etc.

I was already sure that Postfix has bypassed qmail in terms of a mail server, but Simplex, can you tell me why you use PostgreSQL as opposed to mySQL?

Also, what are you using for hardware?

penguinz
05-17-2005, 11:14 AM
We rent out our space @ $100/u/month.That seems a tad expensive. how big is your pipe?

Simplex3
05-17-2005, 12:01 PM
That seems a tad expensive. how big is your pipe?
I don't remember. Our biggest issue is we only have 2u. If we would get a 1/4 rack or more it drops under $50/u/month

I found it a lot cheaper out of town, but I wanted to keep it in KC so that I could swap them out, do hardware changes, etc. myself.

Simplex3
05-17-2005, 12:15 PM
Thanks guys for the responses. It appears that even though I'm three years separated from this stuff, it hasn't changed too much. Before, when I was doing this stuff we were running Linux with Apache, PHP, mySQL, qmail, etc.

I was already sure that Postfix has bypassed qmail in terms of a mail server, but Simplex, can you tell me why you use PostgreSQL as opposed to mySQL?

Also, what are you using for hardware?
We use PostgreSQL over mySQL because pgsql supports the things that real databases support. Triggers, stored procs, functions, all kinds of joins, etc. I used to write big damn Windows/SQL Server and/or Oracle apps, so when I started prototyping out new app on mySQL I found my hands tied. Tied to a wall 40 ft. from my body. mySQL is putting a bunch of that stuff in w/ v5, which may or may not be out yet, but a) it's all new b) it wasn't addressed when the platform was first designed; it's an add-on.

We used to run our production system on this box with no issues:

Dual P3 866
512MB RAM
(2) 18G SCSI HDDs

We recently took advantage of a Windows guy and got this for a few hours work:

Dual XEON 3.0GHz
4G RAM
PERC 4di harware RAID controller
(3) 10k rpm 72G SCSI drives (configured RAID 5)
Redundant, hot swap power

Needless to say the old prod box is now in testing. :)

You'll be tempted to use Linux because of its wide usage. Do yourself a favor and seriously consider the BSDs (Free, Open, Net). You'll be happy you did. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with Linux, we have a couple of Linux servers and I run it on my desktop and laptop. While Linux takes the "dump it in here and let's see if it flies" approach to committing, the BSDs are a more managed growth. It tends to get the latest cool-ass feature later, but you typically aren't concerned with that in a production server environment.

penguinz
05-17-2005, 12:44 PM
I completely agree with the BSD over Linux idea.

If you ever need more than the 2U let me know. I can recommend a local DC.