Companies these days have a variety of hosting options as the industry continues a tectonic shift from proprietary data centers to cloud-friendly platforms. Maciej Ceglowski, always an entertaining writer, has an excellent post comparing the various web hosting options to houses. Below are the five stages he outlines and some quotes from his post:
The Monastery – Platform-as-a-Service (e.g. Engine Yard, Heroku)
You never interact with the computer directly, but upload your code to the platform with the proper incantations and it runs. The orders vary in strictness, with Google App Engine requiring that you purify yourself of all worldly design habits before writing your app, Azure insisting you renounce the demon Unix, and Heroku somewhat more welcoming to the fallen.
The Dorm Room – Virtual Servers (e.g. Linode, Amazon Web Services)
Sometimes you will REALLY notice the neighbors, and can’t do anything about it. I/O performance in particular can be awful. Your operating system will lie to you about performance because it lives in the Matrix and can’t see all the way down to the hardware. And if you test the boundaries, you’ll discover you can’t actually do whatever you want. Deviate too far from expected behavior (by churning through millions of files, for example) and the R.A. will come knocking.
The Apartment – Dedicated Server (e.g. ServerBeach)
…the hosting company takes care of general housekeeping and holds your hand if you get scared. Think of it as renting a basement apartment from your parents.
The Condo – Your Hardware in a Colo
The hosting company provides electricity, cooling, physical security, and some minimal “remote hands” service if you need someone to press a button or look at your blinkenlights. But ask not for whom the pager beeps — for sysadmin, it beeps for thee.
The Stately Manor – Your Own Datacenter
Good: No need to take hosting advice from blog posts.
Bad: God help you.
Over the past year most of the abbots and priors have decided to move their monks into the upper floors of the dorm. That arrangement appears to be acceptable to all. The chancellor of Amazon University has decided that the ecclesiastical orders should continue to do what they do best, think about application management and code control; the students and faculty will concern themselves with the lower level infrastructure.
While the past few months have seen some question whether PaaS uptake is accelerating, our view is that most applications will eventually reside in either a Dorm Room or a Monastery. As the price of computing continues to decline, the convenience of the outsourced platforms will gradually dominate the hosting decision. Cleaning a stately manor is too much like hard work for most.