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I have in the past few months gotten acquainted with setting up a linux web server, making it secure & hosting multiple domains on it.

What I am planning to do in the near future is setup a small hosting company that will host 4-5 clients to begin with and then later scale.

I want to know from people that have experience in this industry :

1) Is it a good idea to use the Amazon-ec2 to setup the server and use it for this purpose(as opposed to having a dedicated setup).

2) cPanel optimized for VPS costs about $15 a month, which is okay. There are several add-ons available and the cost with all of these runs into about $150+ per month($1980 a year) which is pretty expensive for a small setup. What add-ons do you advice for a simple small setup.

3) Does cPanel handle resource division, where a particular user will only have access to x amount of ram/bandwidth/processor usage and will not hog into other users resources.

4) Will this sort of a setup enable a reseller accounts or only direct customers under the main account?

5) What blogs/books have helped you to learn about and deal with this sort of a setup?

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4-5 clients? So like 20 USD monthly income ;) Graulations - nice ventur. This is a freaking mass business. Scale or pay. And slim margins. –  TomTom Jun 18 '11 at 13:29
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1 Answer

up vote 11 down vote accepted

First off - no offense, but if you only have a few months of experience with linux web services, you have no business providing services to other customers. There are many nuances to doing things in a secure, well-performing manner that require a much more in-depth knowledge of the software involved. Additionally, web hosting is an incredibly price-competitive industry. With a single server, you will never have the economies of scale that the large hosters do and as such, won't be able to offer cheaper pricing. Furthermore, since you're relatively new to this, you will likely not be able to offer better performance, features, or security to make up for the higher price.

If I were to give a recommendation, I would suggest getting a reseller account with some place like Hostgator, Dreamhost, etc. Doing so will free you from the burden of figuring out how to properly set up and maintain the server. Also, these reseller accounts nearly always come with cPanel licenses for you and your customers. While you're building your customer base on the reseller account, you can further hone your sysadmin skills until at some point in the future, when you can start hosting customers on your own system.

To answer your questions, though:

  1. No, I would not recommend EC2 for a shared hosting system, especially for someone that's new to all of this.
  2. No comment other than you could possibly look into Webmin/Usermin. They are free/open-source cPanel alternatives.
  3. No. To do this, you would need some sort of virtualization system (Xen, OpenVZ, KVM, VMware ESXi, etc.)
  4. No comment.
  5. No amount of blog or book reading can replace pure experience. If you really want to get into this industry, seek a job with a company that either hosts their own large website or perhaps with another webhosting company. In those environments, you'll be able to learn the skills necessary while being mentored by people with more experience.
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+1 for reseller suggestion. I suspect some hosting services allow resellers to re-brand the service as their own. –  RedGrittyBrick Jun 18 '11 at 13:39
    
Also, EC2 instances are killable at any instant (by amazon); if you're running on a single machine with a real-time task, you're doing it wrong. –  Joris Oct 4 '11 at 11:07
    
@Joris - spot instances are killable at any moment, but standard EC2 instances are most definitely not. Sure, the VM will die if the host dies, but that will hold true for any other VM host or physical machine as well. –  EEAA Oct 4 '11 at 15:52
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