Searching for a UK dedicated host

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (693 Words)

It seems this month that I’ve spent more time doing non-coding tasks than, well, coding tasks, which has been a little disappointing considering I wanted to progress much faster with the remaining Eihort features than I have. Well, such is life I suppose. One of the things that’s been yanking my proverbial chain lately has been reliability issues with our current dedicated host.

Almost 2 years ago now (wow, has it been that long?) we moved from Sourceforge’s shared hosting service to a kosher server all of it’s own. The main reason was capacity - our traffic and demands were such that shared hosting couldn’t cut it anymore. The server has done pretty well really - it was cheap because it was funded by donations and has managed quite well on it’s fairly meagre 512Mb and low-end Sempron CPU. However, over those 2 years our traffic has roughly doubled, from 200,000 hits a day in 2005 to 400,000 hits a day in December 2006, and from around 40,000 unique IPs to over 100,000 now. The server is hovering on the edge of its capacity and I often have to firefight capacity issues which is very distracting. The recent DNS outage caused by ZoneEdit has been another time waster.

Clearly, we need an upgrade. I haven’t done any publicity for Ogre in ages - I haven’t felt the need to, people beat a path to our door all the time as it is - so when Eihort gets released, our server is going to be crippled if we do any sort of marketing for it. Something must be done! πŸ˜€In the last couple of weeks I’ve been researching and getting quotes for a new server and that’s coming to a conclusion. I decided early on to move the server to the UK (it’s in the US right now, where it’s cheaper); even though it’s more expensive, having the server in the same legal juristiction & time zone to you has some benefits.

Secondly, I decided to get quotes for a managed service - that is, 24/7 monitoring, fully managed & rotated backups (rather than the FTP system we have now), tech support on call and proactively responding to problems even whilst I’m asleep. I’ve been managing the server on my own since temas & _mental_ moved on, and that’s not good for the site, my own workload, or my sanity, as the recent problems have shown. I had some generous offers from people in the community to help manage the new server if I went for a bare-bones system, which was very nice of them and very tempting, but the more I consider it, the more I think Ogre has got to the stage where it needs an always-on, no-hassle professional service, and like it or not you have to pay for that. Basically it’s time to stop doing things on the cheap πŸ˜€

The shortlist at the moment for managed services is Rackspace, UKFast and Dedipower. All 3 have a good reputation and offer similar levels of service, it’s mostly coming down to price and the small details now, over which I’m negotiating (it’s surprising how flexible the prices can be from the initial offer when you’re talking to competitors ;)). Of course, none of these are cheap by any measure, but I’m willing to put my money (well, my company TKS’s money) where my mouth is to make sure we’re prepared for what the future holds for Ogre. TKS will of course benefit from this as well since it’s existence is largely down to Ogre anyway, so it will justify the investment in the long term I’m sure. The commercial work I now do for / with Ogre that means I don’t feel comfortable asking for donations to fund hosting anymore (and I don’t think they’d be able to cover this anyway), so this is an investment. The website is our front door after all, and it’s imperitive we keep it open at all times, both to continue to foster the community that’s at the heart of everything we do, as well as ensuring we put forward a professional, reliable service.