Posts tagged: server

Goodbye vps.net – hello Linode

After seeing yet another failure from the vps.net camp, this FAR worse than anything I’ve seen before I decided to jump ship.

What was this failure?  well…

It has to do with the licensing, the licenses stopped pinging, which made replication stop, which caused some services to stop, they then logged in and rebooted it, and thought it was back up, but upon mounting VMs, it came to the point where it was clear that there was corruption. We then were able to restore all the logical volumes, but even then, the VMs wouldn’t boot..that brings us to where we’re at now

From my point of view, my server died, wouldn’t come up and after 24 hours it still wasn’t available.  There seems to be a high chance there is a missing data….that’s to be checked later.

Far from re-assuring.

So, over to Linode. Similar pricing for the basic stuff.

  • The initial setup was very much the same on both providers, under 5 minutes and a new machine was ready to go.
  • Installing the software I need, pretty quick – then again I’ve done it several times now.
  • Restore backups from my Amazon AWS – costs less than £3 per month to run what I required.
  • Less than 4 hours after setting up the nodes I am back live with only emails delayed.

I must admit, I’m pretty impressed with the flexibility of functions in the control panel for Linode.  In addition to what vps.net offers, Linode has;

  • A job queue
  • Root password reset
  • Rescue mode
  • Kernel switch
  • Custom disk sizing
  • Custom drive mounting
  • Alerts  on CPU usage, Disk IO, Traffic and Transfer Quota
  • Auto-reboots – this has not yet been a problem anyways
  • Additional RAM/Storage/Data Transfer all separately configurable

There maybe more as well, this is under 24 hours of signup which included sleep, work & setting up servers.

My sites also seem more responsive as well, faster disks maybe?

Standalone DNS server – Almost there

A while ago I mentioned a Standalone DNS server.  Stuff got in the way and it got set back.

Well, its almost done.  Just needs some final testing, a quick import of the current records and we’re set to go.

Argh….The Cloud

Cloud/VPS hosting is great, except when its not.  The idea is, you have dedicated hardware to take over if something fails and on smaller installations, is quite a bit cheaper.

I have been using it for a over 12 months and for the most part its been fine. There have been a few occasions where there has been a bit of downtime, but it was early days…..except today there has been some quite serious downtime.

A power outage takes down a large chunk of machines, both primary and backup machines.  Not much of a problem I hear you say…WRONG.

A conventional server

If a power outage takes out a datacenter, once its back remote start, manually pressing up to 42 buttons per rack boots servers, or servers that just reboot when power is back (this will be most I’d guess), a couple of minutes later everyone’s server us running with minimal issue.

The Cloud

When a VPS cloud is affected the process is very different.  The main servers are booted, the disk servers are booted at which point not a single “client” server has started.  Now we go through the large queue of servers starting them, good luck if your at the end, up to 4 hours it seems to recover from this one.

Is the Cloud worth it?

This is a difficult question to answer.  The cloud can handle multiple failures at the same time (or at least its meant to) however due to the many number of components, the chance of something failing is far greater.  Having your own machine, if your down due to a hardware fault…that’s it..your down.

I still like the Cloud scenario, almost instant deployment of new servers & more CPU than you are often going to get in a standalone box.  It really does depend on what your system requirements are.  I’m hosting a game server in the cloud.  It would cost me the same, if not more, to just get a game server from a game server provider – without the flexibility I have now, but a lot more to host 1 game server on the cheapest dedicated server you could fine.

Some of the 3 website “breaking” due to the iPhone

As has happened already this year, the iPhone 4 is breaking websites.  Three have not managed to escape this.

An SMS & E-mail was sent out recently to several/all? of the “register interest” folk which has in turn caused a lot of traffic to the main 3 website.  3 have done a very good job of separating parts of their site so a lot still works without problem.

O2 & Orange have dedicated websites, on different domains just to handle the iPhone, this should mean they have kept downtime to a minimum.  O2 have also announced no online ordering until at least the end of July.

This is a very good example of what to do when expect BIG product releases.

  • Static websites perform very well, so remove the PHP
  • Setup a sub-domain with a site dedicated to this release
  • Plan ahead. Similar to 3, get different elements of your sites separated permanently, worst case scenario, only a small part goes down.

Get using SVN

More recently I have started working with a team on a project, after a short time we realise we NEEDED to use some sort of versioning system, not only to avoid the possible lack of file locking, but also to allow us to quickly revert to a previous version when bugs/conflicts are found.

It took a short while to get the individual machines configured with necessary database servers and a dump of the test data to populate them.  After that setup, checkout the code and get to work.  A few short days later its easy to see the benefits, individual installations all testing new features being worked on, end of the day, commit (assuming everything works) then an update in the morning.  I get the benefit of seeing the new features, who has done them and get this stuff tested.

I decided to use it for myself, when I’m the only developer.  It doesn’t take long to see the benefits.

  1. I work on the site locally, once I’m fully satisfied my local version is working, I commit.
  2. Checkout the source code on a testing server, using a duplicate of the current live database to test.
  3. A bit of backwards and forwards maybe.
  4. Checkout the source code on the live server, your new code is deployed and ready to go with little to no downtime.

Although this sort of thing can be accomplished via FTP in a similar way, the process is not as slick, and in the event of a screw-up, checkout a previous working revision having minimum downtime.

As for SVN software for the client machines;

OS X users: Coda comes with SVN built in, this is my choice.

There is also a cross-platform client, both free & paid versions available. Smart SVN.  I also have this installed.

There are a lot of SVN clients, so it’s really a case of try and see.

Dansette