We have a client on a Nitro server at Media Temple right now running 8x 300GB 10KRPM SAS hard drives with 12GB of RAM. We're paying an absolute mint for this monthly and I wanted to see about switching to a high-end VPS solution since that's likely how we'll end up doing failover and load balancing later anyways.

Currently they're running Plesk (yuck!) and for the time being I'm trying to get them switched over to cPanel for easier management until they get to their next growth phase as a company. At which point, we'll separate out MySQL from Apache (1x VPS's each), where we can replicate each of those and load balance them, continually adding more as the needs present themselves.

We're thinking about Storm on Demand (Liquid Web) or Rackspace Cloud Servers, but I believe they are not running SAS disks for the hardware behind the scenes. Anything you can recommend I find out or testing would be greatly appreciated.

Right now, I can get more space and 3x the amount of RAM with Storm on Demand (Liquid Web) 32GB VPS...for half the monthly cost, but we don't get the SAS disks, so I'm sorta stuck weighing the pros and cons of either choice.

In fact, if you have any thoughts about commands I can run on either platform to test and compare, that'd be great! I have SSH root access to both environments. I'm not sure how to understand the disk IO commands I've seen posted around the web because I think those are load based...I'm curious about actual performance capacity and which would be wiser to stick with.

After all...Zynga (creator of Farmville) is really just using Amazon EC2 x5000 VPS's with Rightscale, so this method surely has to work. Just wonder about the disk writing capabilities and if a high-end VPS will end up being a bottleneck for us.


In a cloud environment, disk performance will generally be significantly more variable than it would be in dedicated or shared-storage-hosting environments. The variability makes it hard to distill a quality rating down to a single number.

It would be a good idea to test your environment in an I/O constrained way, just to see how it behaves when storage suddenly become slow for a minute or two. Engineering around that kind of thing will make living in VPS-land easier.

  • Well, we've never actually seen slowing caused by disk performance on the Nitro server. There isn't actually a problem right now. I just didn't want to spend several days migrating everything over to a new VPS to find out after we flip the switch on DNS that it can't handle it all. – Will Ashworth Feb 4 '11 at 16:27
  • +1 -- a VPS or cloud situation won't have really consistent storage I/O performance because it will vary depending on the disk load from other systems running on the same host. Best bet is to determine how your app will handle "poor" storage performance & try to make it degrade as gracefully as possible... – voretaq7 Feb 4 '11 at 17:43

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