Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mac Mini hosting

Cute idea: web hosting on Mac Minis.
(Colocation or "colo" means that you buy or lease a computer, but it stays in the host's server farm, where they have techies who can keep it running all the time. A different option is "web hotel" where you share space with other web sites on one machine (box).)


Ray said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this similar to the P2P torrent type streaming that a couple or three years back caused all the uproar amongst I.S.P.s in the U.K. when the BBC first began offering free downloads of their old TV shows to anyone who wanted them?

They did that by implanting a hidden P2P relaying executable program on your computer, which, in effect, turned your computer into one tiny segment of a whole network of other similarly altered computers, which had also downloaded that sly little P2P relay from the BBC, forming one huge network which was constantly
exchanging amongst itself these free programs from the BBC.

The problem with it was that all that steady exchange of data packets between all those separately located machines caused such a burden on the various I.S.P. servers themselves that it
virtually overloaded many of them by increasing bandwidth usages beyond what they were designed to normally and efficiently handle.

The I.S.P.s struck back by limiting bandwidth usages to their
customers, particularly those whose
usages had recently skyrocketed due
to this P2P file-sharing scheme.

So I'd be cautious of anyone's claims of wonderful results from any similar linking of compatible machines - and I hasten to add that those don't have to be Mac Minis, they can be any computer which is capable of Internet use.
The technology these smoothies are taking advantage of doesn't depend specifically upon the brand of computer involved so much as it does on your willingness to let their system use your computer's hard-drive as a part of their greater network of linked hard-drives, all of which form together one huge virtual drive.

I need not add that such a scheme is an almost perfect medium for spreading malware around, and that has not gone unnoticed by the bad guys out there in cyberspace. You've already been told that "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" and that applies here too, so please be careful.

ummi68 said...

Timo Lehtinen said...

I don't think this is that, Ray.

Apparently is just an ordinary colocation service, the difference being that they only accept Mac Minis on their shelves.

With the advent of good quality VPS hosting services, I don't see much point in this, though. When your Mac Mini tilts, what you gonna do? Send another one over the mail?

You would need to have at least two online, one mirroring the other. That would double your hosting fee to $70. And you would still need to be prepared to deal with replacements when one fails.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I don't understand how it's different in this matter from regular web hosting with any ol' Mac or PC box.

Timo Lehtinen said...

They have bigger pipes than a typical home subscriber line. Also, supposedly they have UPS, 24/7 monitoring etc.

But, you are right, it's not that different. Especially if you pay for a fast ADSL or an SHDLC line to your home.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Ah, but it seems that this is co-location, meaning the machine is located in the hosts' building, with the faster pipes, 24/7 service etc. At least that's how I understood co-lo, it's what I have and what it was called.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Of course one could say "if the machine is not where I can see it, why would I care if it's a Mac Mini or what?" And that I can't answer. I guess it's a bit of a gimmick.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

BTW, I got that Pogopod recently and got a taste of how slow a home pipe is. The serving of files through my ADSL line was horribly slow. I got so disappointed I have not played with it since. They claimed it could do "streaming video". My ass it could.

Timo Lehtinen said...

"if the machine is not where I can see it, why would I care if it's a Mac Mini or what?"

It's easier/cheaper to send them a Mac Mini than a big tank (a Dell or something). Also, Mac Mini's are cheaper for you to buy from the store to begin with.

Other than that, it makes no difference what brand of box you have humming in a colocation facility.

But, as I wrote above, I don't use colocation. I rent VPS (Virtual Private Server) instances. That way I have the liberty and flexibility of my own server (with root access), but I don't need to buy hardware or worry about hardware failures/maintenance. Also, since I don't have to rent the whole box, the costs are very reasonable.

It's a dream come true in hosting!

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

So VPS is almost the opposite of Web Hotel; instead of many servers on one box, you have one server on many boxes...

(OK, I presume also many servers on those many boxes.)

Timo Lehtinen said...

VPS is a way to run multiple virtual computers inside a single physical computer.

Each of these virtual computers has its own disks (also virtual) and operating system installations.

The main difference to a web hotel is that greedy hosting providers tend to oversell the resources on their web hotels. A server might be serving thousands of websites. Also, there's very little protection from one of those websites hoarding all the resources from the others. A single badly written PHP script on one website might screw things up for everyone.

In contrast, modern VPS implementations (especially ones based on a technology called "XEN") guarantee certain amount of CPU time, disk I/O and network throughput for every VPS instance.

Another difference is that with VPS you have full root access and can install and configure your (virtual) server anyway you like.

So, as a customer, when you pay for a VPS instance you know exactly what you get. And you get what you pay for.

Web hotel services are not usable for mission critical websites. Modern VPS instances are.

Also, because VPS instances are cheap, you can easily buy mpre than one and spread the load in different ways.

VPS is not for the layman, though. You need to know how to administer servers, install and configure software, etc.

Timo Lehtinen said...

Colocation: you rent shelf space and electricity from the provider's machine room for your own computer

Private Server: you rent one of the provider's computers for your own use (the provider continues to take care of the hardware)

Virtual Private Server: you rent a virtual computer inside one of the provider's physical computers

Web hotel: you rent disk space (a user account) from the provider's computer

Timo Lehtinen said...

Private server is also often called "dedicated server". It is the most expensive form of hosting.

hangar said...

If you want that service in the UK you could try: