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With Rackspace Cloudservers gaining popularity, and the ability for one to use their cloudserver as a scalable VPS, is there any reason why people should be using traditional VPS providers?

Cloudservers gives the same kind of services as a normal VPS provider, except with the ability to pay-per-demand and scale-on-demand.

This gotten me thinking, why hasn't traditional VPS providers been phased out?

Is there still a reason/advantage why we should be using traditional VPS?

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A few reasons I can think of:

  1. Rackspace support, in particular, isn't exactly anything to write home about, and my experiences with EC2 doesn't make me think they aren't either. Some people actually like having decent support from their hosting provider.
  2. With scale comes a lack of flexibility -- if you need to do something that your "cloud" provider doesn't support, you're completely and utterly screwed.
  3. The economics of "cloud" computing don't stack up for every situation.
  4. Very few "cloud" providers have presences outside of the US and (sometimes) Europe. That leaves a fair chunk of the world uncovered by low latency network connections to the local customer base.
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I like all your points but especially number 4. +1 – John Gardeniers Nov 3 '09 at 9:31
Good points. I think and hope we'll begin see more differentiation. There are already UK providers (FlexiScale, ElasticHosts) who realise that #1 is important and some customers can't be without good support. Similarly, the point about economics is true. Most of the current IaaS providers are targeting on-demand uses, so prices tend to be higher. Some such as EC2 (Reserved Instances), ElasticHosts (subscriptions) and OpSource (bundles) are adding more traditional upfront pricing models to target these cases which makes the service more flexible. – m0dlx Nov 3 '09 at 9:37
I like your points, but isn't #2 redundant in today's context? I could do everything I used to do on my VPS with Rackspace's cloudservers, especially since they provide static ips. – Anonymous Nov 3 '09 at 14:58
@dchua: If you can do everything on Rackspace's cloud that you could do with your previous VPS, that only means that you didn't have a particularly flexible VPS provider previously. There are any number of things that you just cannot do with any commodity cloud -- they might not be common tasks, but when they're the right thing to do, it's typically because you just can't do them any other way. I'm loathe to sacrifice the ability to get my job done just so I can get with the cool kids and say I'm "in the cloud". – womble Nov 3 '09 at 15:10
@womble, I appreciate the comments. Can I ask what are some of the things that can't be done on the cloud? Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not trying to provoke you, I'm really curious as well. – Anonymous Nov 3 '09 at 16:24

In reply to the above.

  1. Our experience with Rackspace has been quite good, actually. Admittedly, we are paying them around USD 1000 a month, but they've got a few people looking after us, they answer very promptly (our team is actually based in Australia, yet we still usually get replies within a couple of hours), they seem to try very hard to help us, and they've also got several free-call numbers around the world. Of course, an anecdote is a data-point, not a trend, but our experience has certainly been positive.
  2. Hmm, not quite sure what you mean here. For EC2, it's basically more or less a VPS (with a few caveats), although I guess for more complicated cases, maybe it doesn't cover something? E.g. if you need to do something funky with hardware, that another VPS provider would accommodate you with?
  3. The pricing for EC2, especially with Reserved Instances is quite economical. For us, it's around USD 380 a year, per instance (24/7 for the year). Sure, you lose some flexibility with the Reserved Instances, but you can mix/match.
  4. True, for many providers. Amazon does offer a CDN, CloudFront, which offers edge servers around the world, though. I think Rackspace has something similar.

EC2 is a bit different to a VPS. It's essentially an unmanaged service, you have to do your own setup, and debugging (unless you pay for their premium support, and even then, I've heard stories...e.g. Bitbucket's recent experiences with EC2).

Also, it's built on pretty low-end commodity hardware, and there is an expectation that the underlying hardware can give way. We've had one instance go down in the 3 months we've been on it (well, fine, they gave us an email before saying it was in a degraded state...then kapow). So the point is, you're meant to build in your own resilience, and redundnacy, using things like S3 and EBS (Elastic Block Store), Auto-scaling etc. It does all seem to add-up, of course, and it often ends up costing more than it seemed to on paper. Still, it's IT, right =).

Cheers, Victor

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