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February 23, 2010 – 10:56am Quality web hosting… cloud or no cloud?

Here is a list of a few hosts I’m curious about and/or have used in the past. If you are reading this and have a second to spare, let me know who you’ve used and would recommend. All of the 30 or so sites that we host are PHP/MySQL applications, generally Symfony, WordPress, or Magento sites.

  • A2 Hosting – local (for us), provides reasonably priced managed dedicated hosting, uses WHM/cPanel, but as a smaller company their support times are usually lacking (although service feels personalized sometimes).
  • Fused Network – also uses cPanel, no support phone number so I wonder how fast they respond, I also doubt they have their own datacenter.
  • MediaTemple – one of the first grid-based hosts I had ever heard of.
  • Rackspace Cloud – Rackspace is the “name brand” when it comes to support, and is generally the most expensive. I wonder how their cloud services fare? Can’t stand their stock photography of supposed sales agents.
  • Dreamhost – they built their own control panel, and are employee owned.
  • Slicehost – a cheap way to get “full control” over your host, but you better know what you are doing.
  • The Planet – also uses cheap stock photography of their “sales associates” just like rackspace, which bothers me ;). Has their own massive data centers and provides managed dedicated hosting.
  • Peer 1 – A sister company of ServerBeach that adds a layer of support and server management. I’m under the impression they run their own data centers.
Posted by in  Web Development

6 Responses to Quality web hosting… cloud or no cloud?

  1. jared says:

    I host a Magento site and several WP/WPMU installs with MediaTemple (grid service) and I would recommend them. They provide lots of control and they have a great support team. Their pricing is one of the lowest I’ve seen for grid hosting.

  2. Scott Meves says:

    thanks for the advice, jared!!

  3. I’ve had dedicated servers through Rackspace and their support is really Amazing. If you ever, ever give them a negative rating on one of their feedback forms, a manager will call you within 15 minutes and ask you what the problem was. If anything upsets you, they really do treat it as a crisis.

    That said, they are very expensive.

    I’ve also used Media Temple. They seem very solid and very good.

    For all that, I’ve currently a dedicated server from Hostway, and I’ve got a bunch of sites on another dedicated server that Chris Clarke has from Hostway. You can can get a dedicated server for just $99 from Hostway. It’s a lot of server resources for not much money.

  4. Chris Clarke says:

    I’m not yet convinced that cloud hosting is what it’s cracked up to be. It’s a step up from standard virtual hosting, but it’s not the same as dedicated. Some things to consider:
    – What are your OS and software options? (Think about DNS, webmail, database engines, languages, security software, etc.)
    – Do you need to be PCI compliant? (If so, the cloud is probably out of the question.)
    – How many public static IP addresses can you have? You’ll need one for each SSL certificate.
    – What tech support is included/available? As you said, Rackspace is the king of hosting support, but its CloudServers don’t come with it.
    – How long does it take to scale up or down? MediaTemple is instantaneous (up to a point); others may not be.
    – Magento and Symfony might burn through a lot of “compute cycles.” Are you OK with a dynamic hosting bill?
    – What are the options for off-site backup, and restore?

    For what you’re doing, I’d suggest a dedicated box. Rackspace is worry-free, but you could save a lot by going with a cheaper company like ServerBeach or Hostway and handling the sysadmin yourself, or subing it out.

  5. Scott Meves says:

    Thanks so much, Chris. We have a dedicated server now and it’s been working out ok, but I kind of assumed that could hosting could potentially be *better* than a dedicated host, i.e. during a large spike in traffic. I suppose this depends on the type of “cloud” hosting… from what I can tell MediaTemple would automatically dial up your resources, but with something like Amazon you would have to manually start new instances. Also, you make a great point about PCI compliance, and we went through a few extra steps to get our McAfee Secure certification which required we have full control over our server (closing ports, etc). I wonder how difficult it would be to get those working with a “cloud” host. Perhaps a middle ground is something like SliceHost, where you have full control over your slice, but you could dial it up as needed. Thanks again for your valuable input.

  6. Rackspace Cloud Servers and Slice Host are both owned by Rackspace and the best bet for distributed hosting. Shared hosts, virtual hosting and dedicated servers are all legacy methods of hosting relying on one set of hardware or software. The ability to host any deployment without the nickel and dime-ing of services and hardware, single-point-of-failures and lack of knowledgeable support makes distributed hosting (a.k.a. cloud) an efficient way of deploying projects at a lower cost with greater flexibility.