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DTMark

Server quotes (highly technical)

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A few here deal with this sort of thing - we do the development, not the hardware, but I've been asked to get some quotes for one of our major clients.

They're with Rackspace.

Dedicated firewall, web server, and separate SQL Server. One website. Ultra-business critical.

Servers c. 7 years old. Looking for more for the money. Understandably.

Client contracts directly. Requires managed servers. The usual RAID, SSD, etc. Cost to have a replicated second SQL Server is going to be out of the question. That said, we could provide the client with a backup environment on our own kit in the most extreme scenario e.g. the entire data centre catches fire. Or, have SQL Server Web Edition on standby on the web server.

I've assumed Azure will be pie-in-the-sky pricing so wasn't going to bother even looking into it. That and the whole thing remains scrappy with a buggy portal and mind-blowingly expensive and still poor SLAs. It needs so much work. 

I have a quote from UK Fast to put alongside an upgrade quote from Rackspace. 

At the moment it's bye-bye Rackspace. Nice to have known you. £1,000 just to install SQL Server? That's £6,000 per hour. I thought you'd want to keep the client but obviously not.

Anyone else (UK based, managed, established) spring to mind? Thanks.

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21 minutes ago, Soft lad said:

have you looked aws

https://aws.amazon.com/sql/

I did, but it's just too complicated to work out what it would cost. My attention span just won't run to it. Perhaps it should. 

But neither Azure nor AWS are managed services so if I understand correctly they would need to be purchased through someone like Rackspace anyway who will add massive costs on top to oversee it.

And, crucially, neither Azure nor AWS can pretend to offer a 100% uptime service guarantee. Indeed AWS went down for a while last year. Unless, potentially, you take redundant mirrored services and again that's well beyond budget.

Budget is around £1,000 per month.

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Edit to add:

Having just checked Azure, just for a ballpark estimate:

2 servers, one with SQL Server Standard, no firewall, Professional Direct SLA (not a great SLA but it's the best one they have), storage, backups, UK South:

Circa £1800 per month.

Actually that's a lot less than I thought that it would be. But it's still ridiculous.

4 minutes ago, Soft lad said:

do you have your own licence for MS SQL?

No. But looking into that now.

The cost of SQL Server seems to have soared exponentially in the last few years.

As has the licencing arrangement. As it's per core, the cost mounts very fast.

The current Web Edition uses only one core if I read correctly, and so it's cheap but limited.

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10 minutes ago, DTMark said:

Edit to add:

Having just checked Azure, just for a ballpark estimate:

2 servers, one with SQL Server Standard, no firewall, Professional Direct SLA (not a great SLA but it's the best one they have), storage, backups, UK South:

Circa £1800 per month.

Actually that's a lot less than I thought that it would be. But it's still ridiculous.

No. But looking into that now.

The cost of SQL Server seems to have soared exponentially in the last few years.

As has the licencing arrangement. As it's per core, the cost mounts very fast.

The current Web Edition uses only one core if I read correctly, and so it's cheap but limited.

Years ago - 15 I think - I had to do a system which was Windows 2000 running  SQL server.

From memory it was about 500 for the sw license.

I recently looked at the equivalent - WS2012 and SQL server - 8k+

MS server licence costs are getting OTT..

For small to medium SQLy stuff I use Postgresql on linux or bsd.

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The only thing we have any experience with is SQL Server (and Access, in years gone by, but you don't use that in web environments)

Migrating to a different database platform isn't an option :(

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Just now, spunko2010 said:

Whats the size of the DBs, how many concurrent connections are needed, number of daily visitors, is it running on custom software? etc.

Database is about 3GB in size. Monthly visits circa 60 to 80k however this doesn't consider that the database is hammered fairly heavily by the "front end" and the "back end" since the site uses real-time data fed to it from an external source for pricing purposes. The real time and concurrency/transactional requirements ("triple ledger") limit the ability to cache certain things.

ASP.NET C# custom build website. it's a niche industry. Think of something like Mazuma Mobile but with the prices of the handsets and indeed the handsets themselves changing every minute or more.

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11 minutes ago, Soft lad said:

3GB is nothing.

should try aws for 4 hours to test. it'll cost peanuts for 4 hours.

It would probably cost the client circa £1200 of our time to set the entire thing up on that platform to try it out :( 

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I agree that AWS is a ballache, it's also NOT cheap. In fact quite the opposite, just that their prices appear to be cheap as they bill hourly , however over the course of a month I reckon it's more than a normal monthly cycle would cost with Rackspace etc.

Is the reason for the change on cost alone?

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Just now, spunko2010 said:

I agree that AWS is a ballache, it's also NOT cheap. In fact quite the opposite, just that their prices appear to be cheap as they bill hourly , however over the course of a month I reckon it's more than a normal monthly cycle would cost with Rackspace etc.

Is the reason for the change on cost alone?

No.. the servers they have are about seven years old. Rackspace have been doing very nicely out of them. However as more "live" features have been added, hammering the database further, the client should be able to get much better value for money. So the main reason is for performance. There aren't any more indexes that can be added.

However Rackspace's quote for an upgraded like-for-like environment is about double what they currently pay. Some of that is for a six-core SQL Server licence. That could be reduced. It doesn't have to run on six cores. The idea that the client will pay a setup fee of over £1,000 to have someone connect to a network share and install the SQL Server software (point, click, next, next, ok, done etc) is utterly hilarious.

I'm not actually sure who AWS and Azure are "for". I would guess they're for physical offices with their own kit in need of upgrades and the cost of those and the in-house IT people to look after them can be put side-by-side with Azure, and Azure comes out relatively favourably.

However you can tell from the prohibitive pricing of AWS and Azure that they really don't want websites on their platform. The "price per minute" style of pricing doesn't work for things that cannot be "spun down" and which have to run 24/7/365. It works for the "I need to run a massive batch job every Monday morning" scenario.

A colleague has been doing good business lately migrating people from Azure back to in-house as the costs of Azure have proven to be spectacularly higher than was envisaged. And still these days clients aren't used to the idea that the cost can vary, sometimes massively, from month to month where it did not do so before.

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1 minute ago, DTMark said:

No.. the servers they have are about seven years old. Rackspace have been doing very nicely out of them. However as more "live" features have been added, hammering the database further, the client should be able to get much better value for money. So the main reason is for performance. There aren't any more indexes that can be added.

However Rackspace's quote for an upgraded like-for-like environment is about double what they currently pay. Some of that is for a six-core SQL Server licence. That could be reduced. It doesn't have to run on six cores. The idea that the client will pay a setup fee of over £1,000 to have someone connect to a network share and install the SQL Server software (point, click, next, next, ok, done etc) is utterly hilarious.

I'm not actually sure who AWS and Azure are "for". I would guess they're for physical offices with their own kit in need of upgrades and the cost of those and the in-house IT people to look after them can be put side-by-side with Azure, and Azure comes out relatively favourably.

However you can tell from the prohibitive pricing of AWS and Azure that they really don't want websites on their platform. The "price per minute" style of pricing doesn't work for things that cannot be "spun down" and which have to run 24/7/365. It works for the "I need to run a massive batch job every Monday morning" scenario.

A colleague has been doing good business lately migrating people from Azure back to in-house as the costs of Azure have proven to be spectacularly higher than was envisaged. And still these days clients aren't used to the idea that the cost can vary, sometimes massively, from month to month where it did not do so before.

Can you give some ideas of the current specs of the Rackspace server? I recently migrated to brand new Xeon SSD servers and the costs of running them are about 1/3 of what they were on the old ones, even though it has more resources on tap.

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22 minutes ago, spunko2010 said:

Can you give some ideas of the current specs of the Rackspace server? I recently migrated to brand new Xeon SSD servers and the costs of running them are about 1/3 of what they were on the old ones, even though it has more resources on tap.

Firewall

Cisco ASA501 (IIRC)

Web Server

Dell Memory
12 GB DELL RAM, GB Memory: 12 
Dell Servers
Single Socket Quad Core Intel Xeon L5520 2.27GHz, #Processors: 1, #Cores per Proc: 4 
Dell Servers
DELL PowerEdge R710 - WIN2K8 R2 Standard Edition (x64) 
Hard Drive
300GB SAS 15K RPM Drive, HDD RPM: 15000, GB Hard Drive: 300 
Hard Drive
300GB SAS 15K RPM Drive, HDD RPM: 15000, GB Hard Drive: 300 
SQL Server
Dell Memory
16 GB DELL RAM, GB Memory: 16 
Dell Servers
DELL PowerEdge R710 - WIN2K8 R2 Standard Edition (x64) 
Dell Servers
Single Socket Six Core Intel Xeon E5645 2.4GHz, #Processors: 1, #Cores per Proc: 6 
 
 
Hard Drive
146GB SAS 15K RPM Drive, HDD RPM: 15000, GB Hard Drive: 146 
Hard Drive
146GB SAS 15K RPM Drive, HDD RPM: 15000, GB Hard Drive: 146 

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Have you tried Cloudways.com ?

They're basically  doing what Rackspace do (e.g. reselling AWS or DigitalOcean servers - plus a few other options) but based in Malta and really based in India... But you can provision a UK box, they just manage it for you

Loads cheaper than any 'proper' UK managed server - plus you get the backbone of AWS (or whomever) you're really just paying for the techies to keep it going... and I think they offer higher levels of maintenance also

PS - if you go with it please let me know - i think i might get a free doobrey for introductions (though i'm not doing it for that - they've been very good for us £ for £ so far)

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While I'm quite critical of Microsoft, SQL Server remains perhaps the only piece of kit I've ever used which is flawless.

Well, very nearly. There's a bug in it which nobody ever seems to have got to the bottom of which causes indexes to become corrupted in turn causing a permanent table lock until the index is dropped and recreated.

I've seen that three times in ten years. And wonder if it's more related to disk sector corruption than the product itself. Other than that it's wonderful. And officially supported unlike shareware/freeware.

I know very little about PHP and wonder how it's still in use, and how large scalable websites can be built with it. It strikes me as much more of a scripting language than a proper n-tier framework.

C# is lovely and ideally suited for large n-tier systems like this client's one. When we bolt things onto it, and when the original code was architected properly, it's a joy and makes things far more simple than they could otherwise be.

Have just come off the phone with the client. Bye, Rackspace.

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