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Should a Web Startup Go Straight To the Cloud?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the silver-lining dept.

Cloud 442

Javaman59 writes "I am a one person company developing a web site from home. The site is hoped to attract millions of accounts and daily hits (just to give an idea of the scale of things, as its important to the question). My infrastructure is currently Visual Studio 2010 on a PC. To progress the site I need to set up version control, continuous integration, and staging. I have a Win2008 server VM, with all the Windows software (free and legal) to do this. However, I am only just competent as a Win admin, and I foresee each step of the way (setting up a domain; SQL-Server, etc) as a slow, risky process, and a big disruption to development. Should I forget my VM server (it will make a nice games machine!) and just go straight to the cloud for all my infrastructure?"

cancel ×

442 comments

Haha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209394)

You fail as a developer, try getting a job at Microsoft.

Re:Haha (1)

bleble (2183476) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209506)

Uh, he specifically wants to spend more time on developing and not worrying about the hosting part. He also understands the risks in it. In that regard using cloud hosting and storage could be really good, as long as you calculate the price comparatively.

Since he is using Visual Studio 2010 for development, I even suggest using Microsoft's Azure [microsoft.com] . It integrates beautifully with VS and you can run your code directly in the cloud, while debugging too.

Re:Haha (2, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209802)

"Uh, he specifically wants to spend more time on developing and not worrying about the hosting part."

Considering the problems cloud services have had this past year, he's sorely mistaken if he thinks he'll be spending more time developing.

The cloud was not even viable for our small business - not reliable enough, and the people running the cloud are just about as clueless.

Watching Reddit go down hardcore because of cloud failures was even more of an eye-opener.

If you can't be responsible for every part of your business, you don't need to be in business, PERIOD.

Re:Haha (0)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209896)

LOL, so you've never called in an outside contractor for ANYTHING? You guys cleared the land, built the building, manufactured the microchips, etc etc etc. Replace "cloud" with "low startup cost data center" and rethink your statement please.

Re:Haha (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209936)

He would fail if he didn't ask for help.

Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209406)

You're not going anywhere running windows unless you had shit loads of cash behind you.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209680)

yea, thing is, people who have MS stuff have money. people who run free shit usually dont.

Re:Hmm... (4, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209782)

And if he has money he should buy managed hosting, cloud or otherwise. An ideal, but expensive, solution for his situation is a managed Rackspace server. For a few hundred a month he won't have to deal with system maintenance, OS upgrades, or emergencies. He would be able to focus on his applications.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209854)

Say what? Like, for example, Google? Facebook? Or the majority of the top 500 fastest computers on the planet? Or almost everybody else doing anything serious on the Internet? Except for microsoft and apple of course...

Re:Hmm... (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209722)

The idea behind starting a company is to have shit loads of money coming towards you...

Your not qualified (1, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209408)

I'm sorry, but if you need to ask Slashdot on something like this than your not qualified to do what you want to do. Nothing personal but your only going to have hours to days before your website is hosting malware or gets turned into a spam relay.

Re:Your not qualified (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209486)

I'm sorry, but if you need to ask Slashdot on something like this than your not qualified to do what you want to do. Nothing personal but your only going to have hours to days before your website is hosting malware or gets turned into a spam relay.

You're not qualified to write that response. It's "you're", not "your".

Re:Your not qualified (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209488)

So I guess you're rudely saying that he should look for a provider to support his planned infrastructure. And, just to teach you some social grace, sentences that begin with "Nothing personal but..." usually are.

Re:Your not qualified (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209832)

No, he's saying that a man that obviously hasn't mastered building his own infrastructure is nowhere near qualified to be asking someone else to be the infrastructure for him.

It is also pretty obvious that the Submitter never bothered to do any basic research on cloud services, otherwise he'd have never posted this question in the first place.

Re:Your not qualified (3, Informative)

Relyx (52619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209520)

I think you are right, but he's probably taking on this challenge because no one else can dedicate the time or effort he can. At least not for free.

In his situation what should he do? Just give up before he has even started? A more proactive approach is to admit there is a lot to learn, but it is by no means insurmountable. It will just take a lot longer.

Sometimes that is the only realistic option available to people. I admire his can-do attitude. It will be one hell of a learning experience!

Re:Your not qualified (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209584)

In his situation what should he do?

LAMP stack and MAYBE cloud for web serving *IF* he ends up getting those "millions of accounts and daily hits"

Just give up before he has even started?

If he expects to get there with all that expensive-to-license MS infrastructure, he'd better have very deep pockets.

Re:Your not qualified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209856)

Its a hard call.

For me, I would do it all in house on internal VM and plan to move to the cloud later. Keep the internal equipment for testing and development. I think cost would be a big reason for me to keep it in house. If you can figure that stuff out and manage it, its cheaper to keep it in house. But its smart to design it to work with the cloud for when you do need it.

Re:Your not qualified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209564)

I agree ... The first thing you need to learn is how to admin a UNIX box. (this is coming from someone who used to own an ISP)

If you are skeptical, then you should load test your server ... all you need to do is just ask the /.'ers here to take a look at your web site and test it for vulnerabilities. Your system will go down in seconds!

If that does not get your attention, I don't know what will!

Learn to admin a UNIX box and install PostgreSQL - throw a little PHP on there and you will be in business.

---

Are there *any* serious web sites out there that are hosted on windows? (beside Microsoft - they have to eat their own dog food)

Re:Your not qualified (0)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209586)

I think stackexchange is hosted on windows

Re:Your not qualified (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209866)

"all you need to do is just ask the /.'ers here to take a look at your web site and test it for vulnerabilities. Your system will go down in seconds!"

Last time I asked /. to do that they failed MISERABLY in getting my system offline or to even lag.

Can't trust /. anymore for decent advice or testing. The majority of them know nothing about technology beyond the LOIC anyways.

Re:Your not qualified (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209766)

Exactly. You need to be able to load balance the spam and requests to the hosted malware, so normal business will not be interrupted.

Re:Your not qualified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209808)

I'm no grammar nazi, as you'll probably be able to tell, but you need to tackle the whole, your/you're thing. It's making your good posts kinda hard to read.

Here's an easy way to think about it... if you could replace it with "you are", use the contraction "you're". If you're trying to show possession, use "your".

Like so:
"...then* you're not qualified..." and "...but you're only going to have hours..."

* "then", not "than", but that's way less distracting.

Google App Engine. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209410)

Don't use MS products if you want to scale.

Google App Engine. Steep learning curve but worth it.

Re:Google App Engine. (1)

leoplan2 (2064520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209432)

I prefer Amazon EC2

Re:Google App Engine. (0)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209536)

Don't use MS products if you want to scale.

Can you back that up with some technical points? I would not recommend MS products either (never used them, our stuff works fine with Linux), but highly successful projects like stackoverflow.com [stackoverflow.com] scale fine with MS products. All it takes is familiarity with the available software nowdays, it does not seem to be the case anymore that you need a much higher budget for hardware/software to run a MS shop.

Re:Google App Engine. (0)

jonsmirl (114798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209676)

Everyone always brings this one up. Is there another successful one running Windows? There are a bazillion running Linux. I don't recommend one man shops be pioneers. Anyone know if stackoverflow got a big check from Microsoft to become their poster child?

Re:Google App Engine. (1)

bleble (2183476) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209740)

Microsoft 58,867,097 18.83%

I think there might be some successful sites in that 59 million domains. In fact, since it requires payment for the licenses, most of them probably are rather successful. Linux and Apache you can install for whatever.

Re:Google App Engine. (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209762)

eBay runs on Windows.

Re:Google App Engine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209764)

This is just an ignorant statement....

Re:Google App Engine. (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209576)

Don't use MS products if you want to scale.

Google App Engine. Steep learning curve but worth it.

Tell that to the StackExchange/StackOverflow guys. I've been a straight *nix developer and sysadmin for ages, and I prefer that over MS products. But even I can see through this type of bullshit (regarding MS products not scaling.)

As for Google App Engine, you gotta be joking. You can't upload a straight/stander JEE app on it, and there is a substantial amount of effort to make sure your code is not completely dependent to GAE's specific architecture. For that, it's much better to go to Amazon EC, or a true-standard app/platform hosting like Heroku.

Re:Google App Engine. (2)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209814)

MS systems can scale as much as you like, if you have the money for licensing, hardware, MS support, and system administration. It's not ideal, but technically it can work.

Re:Google App Engine. (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209872)

"Don't use MS products if you want to scale."

Never heard of Azure, have you?

While I hate MS, guess what? It actually scales.

in house has less lag and more bandwidth then work (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209426)

in house has less lag and more bandwidth then working over the web from your home. How good is your upload?

This is advertisement (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209438)

ASTROTURFING.

This is an absolute low-ball question intended to maximize MS product placement on the web. Fucking christ.

Delete.

Re:This is advertisement (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209516)

Astroturfing

You may be right - Look at all that MS name dropping, and this guy is running this out of his home? He must be one rich guy to pay all the licensing fees, especially if he expects to scale to "millions of accounts and daily hits". Either itâ(TM)s pure Astroturf, or this guy just isnâ(TM)t living in reality.

Re:This is advertisement (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209556)

His name is javaman and he's using visual studio 2010.

Re:This is advertisement (2)

bleble (2183476) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209594)

So what? He has UID 524434 so he has been around on slashdot for a quite while. That just shows he has past coding experience in Java, and quick google query shows he is coding with C# now. Java->C# is a natural progress (as the languages are similar, but C# is better) and Visual Studio 2010 and Windows environment makes a lot of sense for C#.

Re:This is advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209770)

M$ shill! Ass kissing away in Redmond?

Re:This is advertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209602)

I'd say it's negative advertisement: this guy got Visual Studio 2010 and a Win2008 server VM loaded with Windows software, and he cannot achieve what he wants.

I know what it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209460)

It's porn isn't it?

cloud does not imply scalability (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209464)

The reality is that a "just competent" person is far from qualified to make this choice. It is easy to think that "the cloud" is an easy answer to scaling problems, but if you do not design your service/software with horizontal scaling in mind, you may find that your service does not scale up on "the cloud" any more effectively than it could on your own servers. "Cloud" does not imply scalability, it implies out-sourced infrastructure which is accounted for as an OpEx, rather than a CapEx. You still must plan for scaling up.

Haha. (4, Insightful)

bbqsrc (1441981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209466)

Seriously. What is this on Slashdot for?

Re:Haha. (3, Insightful)

Relyx (52619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209538)

A lot of knowledgable people hang out here, and I'm sure there are many others interested in the advice.

Re:Haha. (4, Insightful)

bbqsrc (1441981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209590)

The question lacks any signs of expertise, critical thought or realistic planning. It's nonsensical.

Re:Haha. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209792)

Well, now that you put it that way, it's a perfect question for slashdot!

Re:Haha. (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209840)

That's why it's good he came here. We can tell him he needs to hire a system administrator or purchase a completely managed hosting package.

Re:Haha. (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209598)

Indeed, I come here for the comments. Often I learn something here. Nobody knows everything.

Re:Haha. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209822)

and the rest come for what? To read the articles?

Re:Haha. (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209842)

It reads like the "business plan" of a 14-year-old who wrote this really cool song (well, the lyrics so far, plus the guitar hook) that he knows will be a bit hit, and he wants to know if he'll become a millionaire faster by signing a deal with a big record company or by releasing it on his own label.

Maybe (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209484)

A bit of alpha testing with a few friends from your home box is definitely OK. But if your app is going to be as popular as you think it is, get it running where you can scale it up fast. Or you may end up pissing off your customers with poor performance and they'll just leave.

Getting your app configured properly for 'The Cloud' is going to be a prerequisite for the production version. Work those bugs out now rather than having to patch the 1.0 version.

What sort of a question is that? (2, Insightful)

no known priors (1948918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209490)

Why would you want to host your website on an MS OS anyway, let alone one you don't even know how to administer properly.

My advice, look around for a good hosting deal (with good backups etc.) on shared hosting. Buy a hosting plan that can easily be upgraded to something dedicated as and when (and if) needed. Use your machine as a developer machine with all that entails (backups, version control etc.).

Forget about "the cloud". You're dreaming at this point. "The cloud" is something for when you actually need to radically increase the number of visitors that the site can handle.

Re:What sort of a question is that? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209544)

What sort of a question is that?

Well, what sort of a question is that?

Re:What sort of a question is that? (3, Insightful)

Spiked_Three (626260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209638)

Reality is in the big picture, there is no difference between MS OSs and anyone else. For joe blow at home playing, *nix may be more fun, but lots of huge web sites run MS and *nix - and most probably run a mix of the two. A couple of posts ago, hit the nail on the head; scalability is something you design. An os choice does not make you scalable. the fact that you throw that out there is a tell you are out of your league.

Re:What sort of a question is that? (5, Informative)

dissy (172727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209858)

Reality is in the big picture, there is no difference between MS OSs and anyone else.

Except that adding another server to handle more load will cost a couple grand per seat on Windows (Hardware plus licensing) where on an OSS platform you only pay for the hardware.

Your argument that it is possible to do is beside the point, since no one is saying Windows can't scale. The point is the cost of doing so.

The poster stated he is using the Microsoft route since that is what he is familiar with. And there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you have firmly in the front of your mind that is what you are doing, and there will be huge costs involved to do that.

Since his question was about costs, specifically keeping them down, you can not expect people to not recommend tools that perform the same function just as well yet are free.
If he wasn't willing to change from what he is familiar with, he wouldn't have asked for cheaper options, and would have just accepted the fact he must pay a lot of money to stay with the familiar.

Scaling a website (1)

ZipprHead (106133) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209494)

Yes, use the cloud if you expect a lot of growth. No, do not use Microsoft products, they are great for the enterprise, but not for a one man shop. Use some nosql tech, Memcache, and some scripting language with your favorite JavaScript library.

Re:Scaling a website (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209886)

This is ridiculous. You know absolutely nothing about the application itself, yet you're telling him what tools to use to build it.

Windows web server (4, Informative)

frisket (149522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209500)

Unless this is some kind of troll, I'm unclear why you would have picked a platform like Win2008 for a large-scale web server, when a LAMP architecture is easier to manage and more easily portable to the cloud if you do decide to go that way.

Re:Windows web server (2)

Bradmont (513167) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209702)

I think he mentioned it's because that's what he's familiar with.

Why? (5, Insightful)

TheRealFixer (552803) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209512)

I really don't understand why a small web startup would go with Microsoft. The licensing costs when you (hopefully) start to scale up are going to kill you. There's a reason that all the big-hit startups over the past decade weren't standardizing on Windows as their web platform.

Wrong question (5, Insightful)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209522)

What you really need to do is find an entity who can help you with the tech mechanics. That entity could be a friend you promise to reward later, a business partner you legally go 50/50 with, an independent consultant you hire, a company (large or small) you hire. But you're asking really basic questions about stuff, so you obviously need some help. Moving to the cloud just moves the problem to some place you can't touch; it doesn't address it.

(If you're offended by the suggestion that you need help, you need to adjust your thinking significantly, or abandon the idea of going into business for yourself. No one person can do everything, and any successful business person will need to realize that early on.)

Re:Wrong question (1)

Lanir (97918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209892)

I'm in complete agreement about this being the wrong question. Many companies have spent a ridiculous amount of money on telling the general public that The Cloud is a solution. It isn't. It's a tool, nothing more. It has it's upsides and it's downsides. But neither of those will matter when you're talking about a complex setup (millions of users, version control and virtualization are all somewhat involved to setup and maintain).

I've done work for hosting companies before. I've bailed people out after they got in over their heads on a daily basis. But I wasn't their system administrator. You need to realize that tech support at your hosting company isn't the same thing as having a sysadmin who is proactively setting your system up to handle the demands you place on it. The best question you can ask (and answer) right now is: Who is my system administrator? If it's you and you've guaged your admin abilities accurately you'll be lucky if you get the system setup. Even if you do, the first time you run into problems of any kind your customers are going to have a very bad experience and that pretty much makes your proposal a non-starter. Sorry to say something like that but honestly you're better off hearing it now while you can do something about it than later.

I call shenanigans. His username is "javaman" (4, Interesting)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209526)

I call shenanigans. The username of this "Windows developer" is "javaman". He names the major Windows dev and SQL Server brands but doesn't mention Azure. He refers to "continuous integration" but pretends that setting up SQL Server is hard. Methinks this is a plant...though I'm not sure for what.

Re:I call shenanigans. His username is "javaman" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209582)

"Java" could refer to Coffee indicating a complete lack of knowledge about software which aligns well with the post

Re:I call shenanigans. His username is "javaman" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209596)

starbucks?

how is babby formed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209540)

how web site millions daily hits?

Windows Server? (1)

QID (60884) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209560)

This being Slashdot, one expects anti-Microsoft bashing regardless of subject or context, but... there's a reason Apache has 60% of the market to Microsoft's 20% (citation: http://news.netcraft.com/archives/2011/05/02/may-2011-web-server-survey.html), and it's because the LAMP stack is vastly superior to Microsoft's for running public websites. For an internal corporate infrastructure, you can at least debate whether AD and SharePoint and Exchange/Outlook and so forth are worth using, but on the public web, whether doing simple hosting or web applications, you need a *very* compelling reason to want to go with Microsoft.

Slashdot Commentors... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209566)

are useless little children. You're better off finding a few books and professional sites to set you on a proper path.

WTF? (5, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209568)

'The cloud' does not set up your infrastructure. It does not design or enforce your version control. It does not harden against SQL injection attacks.

Your 'infrastructure', Visual Studio on a PC, is not infrastructure. That is merely a basic dev box.
Staging? Needs to be a small scale duplicate of production.

Do you have any clue? Apparently not. If you did, you'd hire someone else that actually knows how to do this. Because you clearly do not.. You have an 'idea'. An idea that you apparently cannot bring to the public.

Sorry, but that the truth.

Re:WTF? (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209834)

'The cloud' does not set up your infrastructure. It does not design or enforce your version control. It does not harden against SQL injection attacks.

Actually there are providers that do, now granted they charge a lot to handle the entire process, but they do exist. A good Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider that handles windows apps (I don't know of any offhand, I'm a Linux/UNIX guy) is what he needs, I'm sure Google can find them.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209946)

I'm in a similar situation, and I came to the realization that you can get the the infrastructure handled by godaddy hosting with little/no effort.

14.99/ month gets you unlimited space, bandwidth, etc.. with your choice of win/linux, mySQL, SQLserver, access, all that crap. Sure, its sucky not to have that stuff physically under your control, but WTF do you want for a 1 man operation?

With that in place I'm free to download TortoiseHg and focus my efforts on website development.

Use the cloud... (2)

hattig (47930) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209572)

Yes. Don't take on anything more than your core skills, or the other stuff will eat into your time and stop you doing what you aim to develop. When starting up you might even find free cloud hosting whilst you develop.

You will want to move from Microsoft products as a one-man band, as this will make your cloud choices cheaper and more varied. Look into PostgreSQL or MySQL, and PHP, Java, Python or any one of the myriad other Linux web server languages.

But do put some thought into how you are going to scale your platform so that it will run on the dirt cheap hosting platform initially, yet expand and scale across multiple cloud hosts down the line.

Wrong approach (1)

merky1 (83978) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209574)

You should totally be looking to do FORTRAN on z/VM... It's the only way you will be able to handle the "millions" of accounts you will be creating to pump your own image.

a simple answer.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209578)

yes.

more info:
forget windows.

learn about cloud or find somebody who can help.
use the many web services available cheap for SCM, deployment, task management, etc.

if you only want to focus on development for yourself, then again you need to find someone to handle all the other stuff.

Reality Check (1)

pvera (250260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209612)

1. Get used to the idea that your development and production environments are two distinct animals to be kept apart on purpose. Using one machine to develop and to host the production service is a recipe for disaster.

2. Stop using the cloud as a magical entity that holds everything that is online. You can go to many web hosts and pick up a decent IIS and SQL Server hosting plan for just a few bucks per month. If you build your solution so it can allow multiple server instances, you can always move it to the Azure Service or Amazon's cloud service.

3. "Hoped to attract" is not going to cut it. You need to have market research and a lot more before you can even talk numbers, otherwise you are down to a "cool idea that I hope catches on."

4. Offload your non-programming duties on somebody else. After many years programming, I have found that I was consistently miserable when my job description included responsibility for the infrastructure. It doesn't mean you stop learning about the infrastructure, it is just that you just concentrate on what you are building and somebody else is stuck keeping the servers alive.

Assuming you're serious... (5, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209614)

The guy above said you're not qualified, but the young and inexperienced have come up with plenty of new and innovative stuff, so:

I think the question is: If not cloud, what?

In no case would I run the site from home. You'll probably get your home Internet yanked.

Cloud usually implies the ability to instantly increase/decrease the size of your server. I don't think you need that at the start.

You could go with a cheap VPS [google.com] . In fact, I think that's what you should do. You should be able to take a stock Windows VPS and install your application, and have everything working. Either write an installation how-to, or reduce the steps to a script (PowerShell or whatever).

After you're able to do that, you could start looking into cloud provisioning, separate database server, database replication, DNS proxying, round-robin DNS, backups/rsync, https and SSL certificates.

You'll need to run email on the server, too, if only to send notification messages to your users (or to yourself). So you need to learn about how to administer and email server. Or rent and Exchange Server.

You also need to learn about CANSPAM requirements.

You'll need to have some kind of monitoring service to alert you to problems with your server. collectd is great for this on Linux.

You also need to look into which ad service you'll be using. Or alternatively, which payment service. Don't keep credit card numbers on your site, don't manage subscriptions by yourself. Let the payment processor do it.

LAMP stack (1)

johnwbyrd (251699) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209616)

Since scalability is a concern for your app, you probably want to architect your server around a LAMP stack. For version control use git or svn. Windows licenses get more expensive as they accept more users, whereas LAMP stacks have only the cost of maintenance.

"Going to the cloud" vs "hosting your server" is only a question of which hardware will host your machine. It's irrelevant to you right now. If you're pinching pennies it's almost always cheaper and faster to run LAMP apps on local hardware and then scale to remote hosting when you have enough users to warrant.

The nature of your question indicates that you don't know all the questions yet. I think you need a few more months of R&D before you call yourself a web startup.

Hate to say it... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209620)

...but you're in way over your head. Or at least, you will be if you get even a fraction of the hits you are planing on.

Some simple advise:
1. Start small, and grow slowly. Don't start off with the cloud. That being said, look to see what services the cloud has to offer, and run similar services on your desktop. You'll notice that a lot of the clouds offer LAMP with ssh access (or something similar). Do the same at home.

2. Go with a free software stack, so you can afford the mistakes. (LAMP, or something BSD or such.)

3. Learn the tools of administration. That means eating your dogfood: If your platform is going to be LAMP, make all your machines run Linux, so you know how to deal with the simple administration stuff along the way.

Read up on Azure (1)

j1976 (618621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209622)

The answer is not all that simple and straight-forward. First you have to decide what level of "cloud" it is you want? Is it platform-as-a-service (PAAS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS)? Your situation will be very different depending on what you choose. Assuming you are interested in going all out cloud and insist on going for microsoft products, you should read up on Azure [wikipedia.org] and then decide if the gains are worth it. You should especially read up on the pricing model and see if it fits with your model for generating income.

Yes (1)

global_diffusion (540737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209632)

I think you answered all your questions. It's probably cheaper and easier to use a solution that already exists, so as long as your technology and business plan doesn't rely on having your own physical servers, then go "to the cloud!"

One word: BANDWIDTH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209656)

I assume you have either DSL or Cable for your high speed Internet connectivity? It doesn't matter if you have their top tier, it's not going to be anywhere near enough to handle the demand you are expecting! You need a hosting service, like 123ehost.com or 1and1.com, etc. Their prices are very reasonable, and they have the bandwidth to handle large demand.

Actual Entrepreneur Here (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209674)

However this is the plan and the reasoning.

- Windows Server 2008 R2: - ASP.Net + MVC3 + Entity Framework 4.1 w/ POCO + C# is simply a fantastic development platform. You are a single person which likely means your time is the optimizing factor, NOT cost. Otherwise use Linux + Apache as it will save you in the long term.

- MySQL over MSSQL: MySQL is a nearly identical engineering experience for a site of your scale and will save you 10s of thousands of licensing costs in the long run. See the MySQL .Net connector. If you are bold try MongoDB, however it sounds like you are most comfortable with RDBMS and we are optimizing for your time.

- Source control: GIT, then SVN, then Perforce; by order of preference. The first two are free, the last one is used widely in professional shops (MSFT for example). Your choice.

- Cloud: Assuming you have the dev chops to target it, don't. As a one man operation, doing this now will sap your time and you will never ship. Design for the scale you have and not the scale you want.

- Licensing: Google Microsoft BizSpark and enroll. As a startup you get something like the first 3 years unlimited licenses for a few hundred bucks.

Notes:
1. This optimizes for getting you to market quickest.
2. This minimizes your long term licensing costs (Windows Server ONLY).
3. This assumes that once you get to market and start acquiring customers, you will get traction needed to invest in fancy things like building for the cloud.

Everything else is premature optimization.

Good Question (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209692)

If I were you as a one-man operation, I would definitely look into a cloud-based service - not so much for technical reasons but for reasons of practicality. It is challenging enough to manage your sales, marketing, and accounting let alone your information technology. The cloud will at least alleviate one significant headache allowing you to focus on earning money. I run my own IT consulting business part-time and I use Google Apps for Business because the last thing I want to do is maintain an Windows Domain Controller and Exchange Server. By all rights, I have experience as both a Windows and UNIX admin but my focus needs to be on drumming up business, not worrying about malware, viruses, and database corruption. I believe you can find competitive Windows Server Hosting from companies like 1and1 at http://www.1and1.com./ [www.1and1.com]

Cloud! Biggest bang for the buck... (1)

Anarchy245 (1729442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209712)

Absolutely! A datacenter keeps everything running under optimum conditions: redundant power grid connections, redundant backbone connections, air conditioned environment, restricted high-security access, and professional systems/network/administrative engineers. This option also allows you to purchase only what you need - and you can easily upgrade as those needs grow. Customer support is usually available. And if you have specialized needs, you can rent a server (virtual private server or physical server), or you can co-locate your own server in a datacenter. It does cost money, but think of how much more valuable your time is, compared to the time it takes to administer your server. Also consider the potential loss of income due to downtime. Having run a hosting company in years past, I can tell you the business is cut-throat, with other companies racing to be the cheapest. Prices have been driven so low that it will cost you more for a cuppa' joe at Starbux than it will for a month of hosting. I think the business decision is clear: prices are cheap enough to just leave it to the pros

Back-of-the-envelope calculations (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209730)

You say "millions of ... daily hits". For simplicity, let's say that you get about 1 million hits per day; that's about 10 hits per second, and that's if they're spread out evenly throughout the day. If it's fairly business-centric and USA-centric, then let's say that you get about 90% of those hits during a period of about 10 hours; that's more like 25 hits per second. Now how long will it take your server, on average, to process one hit (taking multiple processes/threads/etc. into account)? The difference between 0.02 seconds and 0.12 seconds now determines whether it gets swamped or not.

If you do run this type of volume on your own kit, then you'll need to pay serious attention to (1) optimizing for processing speed (including volume of data sent back and forth between your site and the user) and (2) using multiple web servers and/or database servers with load balancing.

get a clue first! (1)

maadmole (698240) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209744)

You are like someone trying to start a restaurant who is asking the web for advice on the menu when you should be focusing how good the location is and the rent. Your lack of business acumen (even compared to your technical expertise!) is what is going to kill you. Is your idea anything more compelling than getting hits on pages decorated with adsense crap? On the evidence you're going to get fucked either way. LAMP is probably the better bet but if you go into the cloud you'll be paying for those clicks: dearly if only a small percentage are revenue generating. MSFT is not necessarily inferior technically, but it's targeted at Enterprises with deep pockets, not 1-person startups: you will go broke with the up-front costs.

Here's my situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209748)

None of the comments so far have any value to them. And all of them are rather biased towards LAMP architecture.

I am in a very similar situation. The reason for me choosing MS based stack is because I've spent the last 10 years working with .NET and C# (one very large scale Enterprise projects) and you just cannot throw away experience like this, and, realistically, you can not use mono (or I personally would not) in a live environment. Secondly, if you compare the actual cost of hosting something in the cloud (say Amazon EC2) the premium cost for using Windows is comparatively small.

My personal plan - is to go straight into the cloud (either Amazon or Azure). I really don't want to spend much time or money on setting up my own hosing environment, let the people who are supposed to be good do it for you!

Re:Here's my situation (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209940)

Agreed, if you're looking for a good hosing environment The Cloud(TM) is likely a good choice.

Couple of items... (2)

Hall (962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209758)

A couple of items jump out at me...

- "a one person company developing a web site from home" that "is hoped to attract millions of accounts and daily hits..."
- "I am only just competent as a Win admin..."

No way this is a real question !

Re:Couple of items... (1)

Relyx (52619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209894)

Or it could just be a young guy, perhaps still at school, who simply has no idea of the knowledge required. A lot of people here are bashing him, but I think he should be encouraged to learn the sort of issues involved. And one of the best ways to do that is to try building his own web business. If no one took any risks or blind leaps of faith, we'd get nowhere.

Cloud (1)

hackus (159037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209774)

Depends.

I would use something like cloud services to minimize startup costs if it made sense.

I would not use the cloud though if:

1) Your startup requires security. Cloud services you have to remember own your data. If they decide to give it out with or without your permission, you have no control over the outcome. In fact, you may not even have any legal recourse either.

2) Lots of storage. It is not clear what the track record is on Cloud Storage. I may be cheaper for sure, but it may not be very reliable. Further if your project or startup is going to need lots of storage, it might not be practical to consider cloud storage.

-Hack

Look at Azure (3, Informative)

jesseck (942036) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209780)

If you're already developing with Visual Studio 2010, and using MS SQL as the backend, why not look at Microsoft's Azure platform? It integrates with both, and your web application should take less to run. Plus, I saw some items that they had promotions for people who get their apps validated (marketing funds and Office 2010), and something about free or discounted trials on Azure.

Low fixed costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209816)

MS Cloud solutions is a lot more expensive then linux based cloud solutions or even GAE or Amazon. Poor choice to do a startup with MS toolset. If your doing a startup you need to keep your fixed costs as low as possible. MS Licensing plus hosting is not top on the list for startups

Basic Advice rather than discouragement. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209818)

While everyone is pissing on your parade I would encourage you to go for it, because even in failure there us knowledge that can expand your skill set and if you become proficient but not profitable you can at least have a list of skills and lessons learned for future interviews. It shows you can and are willing to learn on your own and not afraid to go for it.

I would recommend perforce as a source code management system, its free for 2 or fewer users, and 5 workspaces.
I would look at square space as a host

Use a Windows $5 hosting site first (2)

danparker276 (1604251) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209830)

First off I agree with one post, if you have to ask slashdot, you probably are in over your head. There are many $5-$10 hosting sites that will give you all you need, a directory to drop your asp.net files in and a shared database. If your site grows (99.9% of the time it won't), then swtich to a virtual or dedicated machine hosted by one of those large hosting companies. And for all you MS bashers, MS has many price points, from free to enterprise. With open source many times you still have to pay just as much if you get big. And if you have so much traffic that you have to buy all enterprise level MS products, it shouldn't be that much of a cost cus you should be making a lot of money.

Google App Engine (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209860)

I'd recommend you drop Visual Studio and Windows and "go to the cloud" on an environment that is already scaled out. There are a few options, but I think one of the easiest to set up and get going on is Google's App Engine system. I don't know what your preferred programming language is, and if it's not Java or Python (or Go), then you're going to have to switch, but all of those are easy languages to learn and the time required to learn them will be trivial compared to the rest of what it's going to take you to build a significant site. The App Engine SDKs are pretty easy to work with and provide a lot of powerful tools, and your site will be running on Google's infrastructure so you know it'll scale as far as you need it to. The free quota will allow you approximately 5 million pageviews per month, so there's plenty of room for initial growth. When you get to where you need more than that you should also have some cash flowing in to allow you to buy more quota.

If you're concerned about being tied to Google (a valid concern), I'd also recommend that you put some thought into placing a layer between your business logic and Google's APIs. I wouldn't make a huge investment in that, because it's the sort of thing that can soak up a LOT of time, so much that you never actually get your site off the ground, but a little thought up front will make it much easier to migrate to your own platform when you have the revenue to justify hiring all the people you need to do that (because it's a BIG job).

The nice thing is that you can start small, for free (other than your time, of course), and have plenty of room to test your ideas and your approach on the small-to-medium scale before it actually costs you anything, other than your time. Then by the time you're ready to scale up, you should know what you need, and hopefully have the cash to fund it. Or, if it doesn't work out, at least you minimized your sunk cost.

(Disclaimer: I'm a Google employee. That actually has little to do with my recommendation, other than that my employment has motivated me to play with App Engine and I've been impressed with what I've seen, but I feel it should be mentioned.)

Cloud++ @Javaman59 (4, Informative)

cfitkin (1206682) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209880)

Hi Javaman59. I run my own web startup and in the first year found myself moving from a dedicated windows server to a cloud based linux solution for the significant performance improvements. The learning curve for linux administration wasn't too big and if you're already developing for .net/mssql I'm sure you can handle it. PM me if you want any specific recommendations or articles to start with. Good luck, it sounds like a fun project.

P.S. 2nd vote for Azure if you're sticking with a M$ platform.

You will fail... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209910)

Your question is just an indication that you have know idea what you are doing. Slashdot is the wrong platform and baed on the poor quality of your question I can only say: good luck but you will fail miserable.

No you should not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209918)

A cloud system is a good thing when you have a volatile usage scenario and you have the means of adapting to that automatically. If you start a new service you do not need such things. If your assumption is that the business will increase steadily you better real hardware. The present cloud services are too expensive for normal predictable loads.

Host Your Oun Server? (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36209942)

It is going to cost you more and be much more of a pain in the ass to host your own physical WIndows server than it will to get a virtual server in the "cloud," so yeah, this isn't really optional. Trust me, you don't want to have to worry about babysitting your server in a collocation facility. Plus, it simply will not scale. Before you get even 1/2 of the way to the point of millions of users, you'll have a staff and at least one full time admin,w/ dedicated database server, applicaiton servers, load balancers, etc.

Though it sounds like you're getting way ahead of yourself. Just worry about getting your site out there for now. Get a virtual server.

Buy a lottery ticket. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36209962)

he site is hoped to attract millions of accounts and daily hits (just to give an idea of the scale of things, as its important to the question).

Dude, that's sooooo 1999! So, how are you going to drive revenues? Advertising?! *condescending snicker*

Do you have contacts in the VC world? Know some dot-commer billionaire to give you some tenuous credibility? No?

You'd have a better chance buying a lottery ticket.

Use your talent and skills to develop something fringe (i.e. new and unique.) instead - I seriously doubt you're doing anything that hasn't been done to death.

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