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I'm a developer lacking some infrastructure knowledge. What is the fattest pipe I can get to my house in the $200 to $300 range? I'd like to host a few servers at my house. Then if my company gets large enough or the traffic needs to "super-scale" I'll figure something else out.

UPDATE: I guess I go way to envision my situation is I'm starting my own business. Maybe building the next Twitter/Flickr/FriendFeed (if I could be so lucky). I'm just too cheap to buy or rent an office. So my house (bonus room + a bedroom) will become my office / server room. I'd like to at least explore the option of doing my own hosting for a while.

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I'm assuming $200 to $300 a month, right? This would also depend largely upon your location. Where do you live? –  bjtitus Jul 6 '09 at 16:12
    
Raleigh, NC area –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 16:19
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yes, $200 to $300 a month. fixing title now –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 16:21
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Sell your house and move into an office. See if you can get one that has a shower. –  Buttle Butkus Jan 9 '13 at 2:48
    
Funny thing is I have thought about living in the back of an office or in a upstairs apt above an office if I ever needed a "store front" +1 –  Tyndall Jan 9 '13 at 23:16

13 Answers 13

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I just have to throw in my two cents:

If you're looking to "start a business" and are a programmer, go with a hosting provider. Less headaches, you have someone else to deal with the network and hardware issues.

If you're planning on hosting things for anyone other than yourself, DO NOT host it in your house. If other people are paying for the hosting (or even getting it in exchange for something), they deserve to have their site up even when your neighbor's tree falls down on Christmas morning.

If you still want to do it yourself:

  1. "Business" grade connections over cable or FiOS won't give you an SLA or the fast (and knowledgeable) support that T1, OC*, etc. will but they're budget friendly, pretty fast, and generally reliable. You'll need static IPs and a fast pipe.
  2. Have you thought about hardware planning? How much it will cost to be reliable?
  3. Have you thought about the amount of time you will spend (hint: a lot) administering things instead of focusing on whatever your end goal is?
  4. Do you have all of the admin skills to do this (think of every piece of software you want to run and every piece of hardware).

I host all of my own stuff in my house on Optimum Business (30/5, 5 IPs). Here are some of the problems:

  1. 1 WAN connection. Loss of this brings everything down.
  2. No generator, only ~40 minutes UPS power. Power loss > 30 minutes effectively kills everything (the critical UPS starts shedding load at 20 minutes).
  3. Residential location - one tree in the wrong spot down the road kills everything.
  4. Cable modem and router provided by Optimum Business - no possibility of spares or quick replacement.
  5. Failure of a router or switch could bring everything down until I get home from work, and only then would troubleshooting start.
  6. No out-of-band management (could possibly be remedied using a cell phone).
  7. My electric bill.

Some of the infrastructure and investment (time and money) that goes into it:

  1. Standardized on 2 server platforms (HP Proliant DL360G2 and DL380G2). One full spare system ready to run, one spares kit (processor, ram, fans, disks, etc.) for each model.
  2. Border router (optimum's router just exposes the 5 static IPs, does nothing else) running Vyatta on DL360G2 - replacement can be built in under an hour on spare system, but no redundancy.
  3. Two main switches - 100Mb distribution (content serving and home clients/workstation) and Gig-E aggregation (backend for backups, file transfers, monitoring). Everything uses DNS (two servers, in-house) and DHCP (failover). All hosts dual-homed on public and private VLANs.
  4. Though I don't have it done yet, could have Nagios/Puppet control routing, DNS, and switch ports/VLANs so that switch failure would be recovered from automatically.
  5. Backups and host build/install/config system to rebuild any failed box onto spare.
  6. Monitoring (Nagios, Cacti), centralized syslog.
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This is a good description of all the 'little details' that are often overlooked. I've done in-home servers before, but only for my family, and while it was a minimal setup (files, email, remote shell), it still required a bit of nursing. If you're going large, or worse yet, you have liability, you're better off with dedicated services. Still, +1 for pointing out that it can be done AND that it can bring headaches... –  Avery Payne Oct 14 '09 at 18:37
    
AWESOME answer +1 & answer –  Tyndall Nov 6 '09 at 20:31
    
+1 for saying more than just "don't do it." Of course it's great to point out the downsides, but even greater actually answer the question! –  Buttle Butkus Jan 9 '13 at 2:46

For $200 to 300 dollars per month you can get quite a lot of hosted server power and bandwidth. I'd go that route. It will be much more reliable and probably cheaper.

**Update**

You won't get anywhere near production level reliability from a residential service. In the US the cable TV companies generally offer the fastest raw speeds and they offer "Business Class" service. However, this is running on the same infrastructure as the residential service, but you get a different phone number to call when you have a problem.

If it were me (given the budget you've specified) I would get cable Internet access and put my servers "In the cloud" at Amazon or Rackspace. I use rackspace because they offer a lower cost at the low end.

With this approach you have $150 or more to spend elsewhere every month and have the best solution besides.

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see updated question. If I go this route it also does nothing to improve my own connection i.e. I get none of the benefit. –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 16:31
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Spend some portion of the money on getting a hosted server and bandwidth, spend the other portion on getting the "fatter pipe". Write off both as business expenses. You want a server in a multi-homed datacenter, not in your house, if uptime for your site matters a lick. No offense intended, but you really need to be doing things like business plans before you go off and buy "fat pipes" to host your startup business. In this day-and-age, hosting home-built servers out of your bedroom doesn't compare, ROI-wise, to hosted offerings. –  Evan Anderson Jul 6 '09 at 16:54
    
So where do I research my ROI if I don't even know my options are and cost? My knowledge of "pipes" ends with Time Warner cable modem. I know that Time Warner Business Class is not what I want. What is the next step up? Lets say if I just wanted better internet access for myself, a static ip, and the ability to host a web test server? –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 18:25
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Why do you need such fat pipes? If you host the server in a data center any decent broadband connection should be enough for file transfers and updating your server. You need to sepirate the business need for bandwidth from your desire to have faster youtube page loads. –  Jared Jul 6 '09 at 20:19
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All the more reason to let someone else handle it. More expensive doesn't always just mean faster. T1s are slower than pretty much every broadband internet plan you can buy, but they're miles more reliable because they're a dedicated circuit, as opposed to a "best effort" service like DSL or even FIOS. You can host a "test web server" on any business class broadband line. "test web server" shouldn't mean "production". –  Matt Simmons Jul 6 '09 at 20:22

it really depends on your location. i pay equivalent of 40 USD [ 300 swedish kronor ] for 100Mbit/s down, 10Mbit/s up link. it's home-grade connection but works within europe as advertised. it's fiber-to-the-building.

there are problems with servers at your home:

  • if you are serious about them you need ups'es at least and - if things become business-critical - redundant power lines or diesel power generator
  • sooner or later you'll need redundant air conditioning
  • it would be nice to get two independent internet connections - but for that you'll need BGP, your own AS number and PI address range - that's quite a lot of hassle, maybe not worth it at the end
  • what about 2 weeks of holidays away from home - who will power-cycle hanged machine or switch? who will replace failed disk?

servers rented or collocated at some data-center will give you more peace of mind and at small scale i think will be cheaper. it's just economy of scale - it might be really more expensive to do it inhouse.

you can rent 1u rack server, quad core, 4GB ram, 500GB hdd, 5TB network traffic @ 100mbit interface starting ~150 USD/month. check http://www.serverbeach.com/ for instance.

edit: last mile connection you can get

if you're lucky and can get fiber to your place. price per Mbit/s will be ok, but if telecom needs to build infrastructure - startup cost will be prohibitive. sky and your wallet are the limits of bandwidth you can get.

adsl/vdsl connection over copper is most likely, but that's not suitable for anything except mail-server for couple dozens mailboxes or own webpage. depending on range you can get 1-2 Mbit/s up to 10-20 Mbit/s of upload [ if range is < 500m ].

third alternative is wimax or other wireless solution. this tends to work ok, startup cost is higher then for adsl but lower then fiberoptics. bandwidth - depends on price, can be 10-32-64 or even 600mbit/s [ last one is really expensive ].

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see updated question –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 16:29

Why bring this into your house? If you are going to spend that kind of money, you can get some very very nice hosting plans in the range of $200/300 /mo. Probably far far better an dmore reliable than what can be done in residential areas, either by technology limits (my fibre is only 20mbit) and I have limits on my data usage as well. In a data center no such items are limits. and the datacenter will have power backup and network redundancy to keep your app alive that simply is not the case with residential service.

I would also mention that handling a remote host, you are setting yourself up for handling how that will work. Your host will probably be able to handle your scaling faster/sooner than the date when the service growing in your house can't handle it and you suddenly have to "move" in the middle the night and suffer some Twitter-style outtage.

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You should investigate "Co-Location" (colo) at a datacenter near you first. Depending on the site, you probably get a couple 100Mbit or gigabit connections and get charged for your peak traffic (95th percentile with data samples taken every 5 or 6 minutes is typical). And a high-sounding price for how much power you get to your cabinet. Upgrading bandwidth is easy in this scenario: just a phone call.

Otherwise, it totally depends on where you are. What country, what state, what phone company, and how far you are from the phone company equipment.

In the US you'd probably want to look for "SDSL" (symmetric DSL; same rate down as up). Normal residential DSL is asymmetric. For instance, I pay $35/month for 6Mbit down, but only get about 1Mbit up. I've seen ISPs (speakeasy, for instance) that have ADSL offerings available for only a little more with a higher bitrate up. You might be able to get a T1, but charges for that can vary significantly and the equipment is more complicated. For hosting servers, you need to concentrate on how much bandwidth you have going out, and mostly ignore how much bandwidth down.

I believe with my local ISP it's possible to get 6Mbps symmetric for about $130/month, but they want you to actually call them and they don't say what they would charge for 30Mbps.

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I think you probably got the message about hosting, right? :-}

For broadband internet, you should be able to find what you are looking for from your local telephone provider, or from any other local ISP. I imagine there are hundreds in your area, which is metropolitan and has a robust tech sector.

1- You want a business connection. They are more expensive, but in your situation it is necessary. You may need to get a local business license in order to get it, but you should probably do that anyway.

2- You want a "symmetric" connection, with upload speed at least as great as download speed. Typical home broadband has download 4-5x faster than upload, which is fine for a web-content consumer. Your actual ratios will be quite a bit the other direction as a web-content provider.

3- You want a FIXED IP ADDRESS -- it might be worth your while to pay for a small subnet, so that you can have several completely separate boxes (say one for development).

4- Get a serious firewall (i.e. Astaro). In a commercial setting, a consumer DSL router will not suffice. If you are a "roll your own" kind of guy, there are plenty of options.

Good luck!

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A hoster has

  • redundant and very fast and reliable connections
  • redundant power supplies
  • cooling
  • fire protection
  • protection of your systems and data against against theft and vandalism
  • better and faster routers and switches.

They

  • exchange broken hardware quickly.
  • care 24/7 even when you are on holidays or ill.
  • can do the hosting it professional and you can't.
  • care for automatic backups

This way you can

  • scale up or down faster and easier
  • concentrate on your business (which is not server housing).
  • save a lot of money
  • sleep much better
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You can get business grade fiber optic (Up to 50 Mbps / 20 Mbps) from Verizon for about $200 a month.

However, personally, I agree with the other comments - lease or rent rack space/servers with someone else who has the the backbone and infrastructure in place already.

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A lot of web startups use the Amazon E2C services. Once you get that setup you pay as you go and can grow from a single instance to a large cluster. No home connection is going to a grow with your needs or match the bandwidth that Amazon's cloud can deliver.

One small instance on e2c can be had for an entire year for $325 or you can pay $0.10 per hour (roughly $72 per month). Bandwidth charges are additional but to hit $200-$300 per month you would have to be using over 1TB of bandwidth.

Check out their site for more details. http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/

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I second this motion. EC2 (or another cloud service) offers nearly unlimited expansion as your needs grow, and relieves you from the obligation of providing the infrastructure overhead that you NEED if you intend to make your living from the services which these servers would offer. Cloud computing is genrally easy to use, and cheap to start up. –  Joe Jul 6 '09 at 17:10
    
If you are starting your own business the whole cloud computing opens up a whole can of legal worms that a startup probably doesn't have the financial backing to deal with- at least in the US –  Jim B Jul 6 '09 at 17:31
    
Running your own business is a can of legal worms to begin with. What type of legal issues does cloud computing add. Obviously if you're business is regulated by things like HIPAA or PCI then the cloud isn't the best option. But I fail to see how running a website on the cloud is legally any different than running a website anywhere else. –  3dinfluence Jul 6 '09 at 17:52
    
I'd be hosting Windows/SQL Server some. Some Linux/MySQL too. But the rates for SQL Server are ridiculous on ec2 right? aws.amazon.com/windows –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 18:30
    
Yeah their pricing for SQL Server is pretty high. I don't know how that stacks up to the market cost for that type of hosting. But in your first question you mentioned that you wanted to build the next big thing. So you need to figure out now if you want to build a large application on top of a platform that has the licensing costs of Microsoft? I'm just thinking out loud here but it just seems that most of the big Web2.0 things have been built on top of an open stack. Freeing up the venture capital money to be spent on infrastructure rather than software licensing. –  3dinfluence Jul 6 '09 at 21:00

Sure, you'll inherit the connection speed .. and you'll also inherit the DoS/DDoS attacks that your sites draw. You'll inherit the gazillions of SPAM e-mails that your beta app permitted due to not checking something during an all night hack-a-thon, and you'll inherit your single ISP's "planned outages"

Spend the $150 - $200 on something good for your house, then lease some servers in Savvis, infomart or some other place that cost under $100 each.

All it takes is one finatical group to compromise your site and send death threats from your home IP to bring the men in black down on you like mad. You don't want the headache, ship it off.

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Any thoughts on the kind of bandwidth you'd buy for yourself if you had $150 to spend (guess I should save $100 or so for hosting)? –  Tyndall Jul 6 '09 at 18:34

Some areas in the US are putting in "fiber to your house". There is a reasonable chance that this could run more bandwidth than you will be willing to buy a network card for (I know for about 100K USD in hardware, you can get 2.5Gb over a single fiber pair).

OT: OTOH your telcom is required by law to let you use there copper to get your phone service from someone else but last I heard no such laws exist for fiber. I've heard of stories of people who got stuck with a very expensive phone package after they switched to fiber and ended up with the copper removed and the telcom flat out refusing to put it back.

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ditto the other answers, rent or buy rack space and servers somewhere. –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 16:29
    
Is that 2.5Gb symmetric, or 2.5Gb down and a few Mbit up? –  freiheit Jul 6 '09 at 16:40
    
@freiheit, @BCS - oh you can get much more then this. 10Gb/s easily. both ways - that is full duplex symmetrically, and with dwdm - terabits. it's just a question how much one wants to pay. cwd by the way is relatively cheap –  pQd Jul 6 '09 at 16:58
    
That 2.5Gb is each way IIRC and it's enough for both I2 traffic for a major university and normal traffic for 2 major universities. The bandwidth of a single mode fiber pair is a function of the hardware on the ends, not the media its self. –  BCS Jul 6 '09 at 17:03
    
@BCS - never, ever underestimate capabilities of students [ and dormitories ]. or maybe you count universities as 'academic stuff' and labs without rest of the campus? ;-] in 2004 we [ the students living in dormitories of pg.gda.pl and ug.gda.pl/pl ] ware generating 400mbit/s at peak-time. –  pQd Jul 6 '09 at 17:10

I think you should separate your bandwidth for your develop use and website traffic. $200-$300 can get you a very decent dedicate host package with pretty much unlimited bandwidth. But if you choose host them in house and share the same bandwidth for your own use, you may encounter some issues down the road. If you are serious about your new start-up, you need to think host your business elsewhere that is more reliable.

Hope it helps.

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the limit is going to depend on where you are at. I looked into the same thing last year and the fine folks at verizon told me it didn't matter how much I was willing to pay they would simply not run a t1 to my house. the best I could get was FIOS (until they jumped away from that as well). The next best was business grade comcast cable internet. That would have been ok but whatever they sell you for speed is simply a guestimate on their part.

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