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We are a new startup, and we don't have much money right now, but we want to invest what we should.

We building a website that will let users to upload pictures, and have a galleries. It's very unique website, but we can't, of course, give more details here. We expect a lot of users as we progress.

The site is build on top of ASP.NET MVC, Windows Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2.

We don't sure what hardware do we need to run all this staff. We don't sure either how to get the licence for this staff and for what version. We don't have much money right now, but I want to know what I have to get.

The path is to have a nice cluster, to support it all, but we may start with one good server, that will be run all, and then add a new specific servers to a cluster. If you choose this path, what hardware would it be?

Or we may start with hosting, to run it all at the beginning. If we will choose this path, can you recommend the hardware that can support it all?

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8 Answers 8

As others have said, it largely depends on how important uptime is to you, but I'd definitely consider getting someone who really knows their beans to sort out the hosting for you (and take the responsibility of keeping everything up!). This would also most likely provide a more extensible system, at least until you're fairly stable and have some sort of usage data to give an idea of what sort of spec machines you'll need.

Have you considered Microsoft Bizspark as a way of getting the software licenses you'll need, for both hosting if you go down that route, and development tools? Jeff blogged about it here.

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1  
You beat me to it (BizSpark). –  osij2is Nov 3 '10 at 16:14

Given this is appears to be purely for dev work and you have no idea on the overall performance requirements I'd suggest just getting a cheapo little Dell desktop tower thing (something like THIS) knowing that it'll do the job for a short while but be cheap and that you will outgrow it soon, but you'll have more understanding by then.

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For a dev server, we want somting to run Windows Server Hyper-V to test out a cluster. –  stacker Nov 3 '10 at 13:04
    
ah ok, understood, that CPU wouldn't do the job, how about this; configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/… –  Chopper3 Nov 3 '10 at 13:19

My biggest recommendation would be to try and step away from SQL Server towards MySQL or PostgreSQL, as the licensing fees will become huge the bigger your database gets.

Depending on your business plan, it may be wiser to start off renting a server from a hosting provider instead of investing thousands in hardware and software, since you don't know how well your new website will pick up speed, as it doesn't sound like a particularly unique website

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Why just not start with SQL Server 2008 R2 Express? MySQL is not a consideration right now, but we do take a look on PostgreSQL. –  stacker Nov 3 '10 at 12:40
    
The more dev time you put into something, the more difficult it will be to step away from it. –  gekkz Nov 3 '10 at 13:19
    
+1 for suggesting a hosting provider. -1 for recommending against MS SQL on account of Licensing. There's several free versions of SQL, and Official Support costs regardless of company. –  Chris S Nov 3 '10 at 13:44

If you're wanting to avoid having to deal with hardware headaches or are expecting fluctuating traffic, or the possibility of rapidly expanding traffic then Amazon EC2 might be a great solution for you. You can quickly change the processing power behind your server, you don't have to deal with hardware failures or any of those issues. A lot of major companies are using Amazon's cloud services: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/

I haven't used them personally but have looked into it and when you combine EC2 (to run your server) and Amazon's S3 to deliver files and their other services you end up with a VERY stable, reliable, and flexible IT environment.

Maybe it's the right solution for you.

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If the application is ready to be deployed and used by your users, then : if you haven't got alot of money, you could go for the entry level servers, as it is a photo gallery, there will be some serious disk I/0 and writes, so you would need professional grade Hard Disks and raid controllers. A server like that can start around $1000 - but it will be good to check dell's website just as an example : Dell Rack mountable server

or

You can go for server hosting by different providers and get a windows box over there...that will work out cheaper as compared to investing straight away and you can always calculate your total spend per year and the amount of revenue you would make in a year....if you think you can spend $1000 - $2000 then get your own server with professional grade Hard disks and raid controllers or go for dedicated server hosting

You can always get a box as suggested above but if the app is being made public and it is a unique idea - it may well get overloaded sooner then expected.

Hope that Helps

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I'd like to learn a little more about your project, a couple of things come to mind.

The site is still in development now but when it goes live, it will become mission critical, 24x7x365 uptime and management. With that said the cost of having to worry about your infrastructure rather then focusing on the core of your business can become a time consuming task at an unknown expense. If for any reason there is downtime this can also cost especially if service credits need to be given to your clients.

I would recommend going the path of managed hosting. There are a couple of key players that come to mind however all of them will want to win your business. In selecting a provider they should be more interested in your business and understanding the needs rather then talking about hardware specifications and a numbers game. In addition the contract and SLA policy will explain what services are being offered and what level of guarantee can be promised.

The reasons why this option would fit best is you wont have to invest the capital in the hardware, including spare parts when hardware breaks and that includes your upgrades if partnered with the right company to work with for your hosting needs. This allows 24x7x365 monitoring and replacement with hands on from the companies team. This also extends into the software level of support to keep the tires spinning.

From a hardware standpoint it sounds to me that would would be best for this deployment is a hybrid cloud, public or private depending on regulations needed for the project and price factor as well as performance.

If you need some recommendations feel free to reach out to me I am more than happy to assist.

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My recommendation take small AMIs of centos 32bit install LAMP with http://gallery.menalto.com/ as you go you pay :D

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This is not an option, since our idea is different. –  stacker Nov 3 '10 at 12:43
    
The OP clearly states that their solution is Micro$oft based ... –  Guillaume Nov 3 '10 at 13:07

In the beginning you wont get so much hits therefore you can use even a normal PC with 4gb memory or less.

Yes as Gekkz posted the best is to host it on some server until you can afford the hardware and software. Mysql is the cheap route and the best for you now. Most software would be able to use Mysql even with odbc settings etc ....

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MS SQL Express is free; how is MySQL "the cheap route"? –  Chris S Nov 3 '10 at 13:46
    
MySql cheaper than MS Sql full version !! I see with Express R2 the limit is lifted from 4gb to 10gb DB size. So as long as it not reaching the limits. –  Pieter Nov 3 '10 at 13:58
    

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