Cloud hosting for Australian based sites

One of the conundrums I have with owning Skylines Australia is its hosting.
Its currently hosted in an Australian data centre on a mega machine (16GB memory) and runs well but costs a FORTUNE! The other issue I have is I never know how big to go with my servers so I go HUGE incase I under-spec and then have problems with load.

I recently started looking into cloud hosting with Amazon or Rackspace, I’ve always been dubious because 90% of my end users are in Australia and I want to make sure the site is super fast for those users. As bandwidth in Australia has always been excessively expensive, the Cloud providers haven’t come here yet (well, I’m guessing that is the reason.)

As our ad’s on Skylines Australia haven’t been performing well lately, I need to find a cheap alternative soon.

Today I spun up a few instances on Rackspace Cloud Servers and Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) and RDS (Relational Database Service). Here are my findings.

Rackspace Cloud Servers

This was SO easy to set up, a few clicks and the server was running. It also has persistant storage unlike EC2 which means that once the server is set up, thats it, nothing more to do. Its security is much easier to handle too.
Performance: Not great. 292ms ping to my router. Far too slow. Unfortunately, this ruled Rackspace out.
Price: Great. About 50% for similar specs to my current server.

Amazon RDS

I am throwing the RDS in here as a bit of an FYI. I initially thought I’d put Skylines Australia’s database on the RDS and just host the web server in EC2 but RDS seems to be designed for small databases as anything over 1GB needs to be converted to a flat file (are you serious?) which means my uncompressed 7GB is not going to be easy. Scratch that.

Amazon EC2

EC2 has always looked good, but everything on the AWS site and console looks and feels difficult. Its complicated to even use the calculator to work out what its going to cost. The other issue is that the EBS (Elastic Block Storage) is an additional service and if you dont get that, anytime you reboot you’ll lose your data. Its not expensive, but its another unnecessary complication. The great thing about Amazon is they are expecting to open an Australian based location next year which will be fantastic.
Performance (Singapore): Ok, but nothing special. Ping was 192ms but the trace sent the hops through Tokyo which is the wrong direction for Australia.
Performace (Tokyo): Not bad! 132ms! Its still 100ms more than my ping to the current host though, so we’ll need to work on other ways to make the site faster.
Price: Similar to Rackspace, about 50% of what I currently pay.

I also pay for a second server that I replicate to for backups which can be spun up for a tiny cost with either Amazon or Rackspace. ($25 per month for a ‘micro’ instance with Amazon.)

Hopefully this has been helpful to you.

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  • Mike Salway

    Thanks Christian - very interesting research.

    Like you, we host [url=http://www.iceinspace.com.au]IceInSpace[/url] in the US because of cost. We also tried an Australian based host ([url=http://www.unlimited-space.com]Unlimited-Space[/url]) who I had used for a smaller project.

    The price was actually good (cheaper than what we're paying now), so-called unlimited space, and bandwidth looked ok. It was on a 'shared' server and not a dedicated server, but we took the risk.

    We spent a few days getting IceInSpace running on their server, cut-over and everything was fine - for about 2 days.

    Coincidently, at the same time, Anthony Wesley (a friend of mine) [url=http://www.iceinspace.com.au/i...]discovered another impact strike on Jupiter[/url] which sent traffic to IceInSpace through the roof for a few days. 

    The hosts sent me an email and said "sorry, your site has too much traffic for our shared servers. You have to get off our servers by the end of the week.".
    They literally gave us 3 or 4 days to move our site back. Luckily everything was still on the old servers and we just had to transfer over the changes but it was a real pain in the arse.

    I lost confidence in Australian hosting but one day hope that it'll be good enough and cheap enough. 

    I'll follow your exploits with interest.

  • Mike Salway

    Sorry I thought it might use BB Code. Obviously not :)

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