About a year ago, some friend and I were talking about each getting servers then going to a local data center and getting a third of a rack. There was lots of excitement but unfortunately most of us weren’t in a position to purchase the needed hardware at the time. Fast forward a year and now the topic has come up again but this time things are looking a lot more feasible.
Now, why would someone need or even want a hardware server in these days of fluffy cloud servers floating everywhere? Isn’t managing a server pretty lack luster now that we have these wonderful solutions like Heroku? It’s true, running a server isn’t glamorous, but it is cost effective depending on your skill level, needs, and willingness to put in a little bit of effort.
The cost is where it really shines. The up front cost of ~$1800 that I am looking at for the server I’d like is pretty steep, it doesn’t say, “I’m saving money!” when you look at it. But, how I like to look at it is how the cost breaks down over the course of a year or two. $150/mo if you put it over a year, $75/mo if you put it over two. Which still looks pretty hefty, but consider the amount of hardware you get for that. This is a dual Xeon system, each 4×2.4GHz, 64GB of RAM (easily able ramp that up to 256GB) and I’ll be running 1TB of redundant storage to start with and have the ability to expand that if needed.
This gives me the ability to replace a couple of my Rackspace VPSs as well as build sites that require out of band work to be done without paying $36/mo per dyno on Heroku. This is where my savings will start to kick in. Considering over 2 years I am looking at $75/mo for the hardware and $50/mo (likely closer to $40) for the hosting for a total of $125/mo. If I am able to take down my VPSs which total out to ~$35/mo, and replace 3 Heroku worker dynos, I am able to break even. If I use it more than that, then I am saving money. And with the level of hardware I am getting, it wont be hard to use it for more things.
All of this said, I’ll still be using Heroku to host my sites. Their deployment, add-on management, and databases are pretty great. Especially since I don’t want to have to deal with things like changing my nginx config every time I add a server, writing/modifying a deployment script for each new service, etc. I just get some extra things I’ve been wanting, and the ability to consolidate some of my servers and costs. Overall I am pretty stoked.
If you are a friend of mine, especially in the Portland area, and interested in joining us, let me know. I’ll gladly give you more information. We are keeping it to people we know and trust since people will potentially have hardware access.