New Server

The server for (tarragon is its name) has been moved to Amazon EC2.

In part this was an experiment, motivated by curiosity about the ease or difficulty of maintaining a server in the cloud. But also in part it was motivated by dissatisfaction with the previous hosting environment, superb hosting. I needed to upgrade the server capacity. It had not been improved for 7 years, and it was ancient hardware when I got it. But at superb I ran into a lot of trouble, because I wanted to use btrfs (see earlier post  about using btrfs on the home computer, oregano). Superb offers old stable kernels, but I really  needed a kernel new enough to have a stable btrfs in it. After I lost all my work owing to btrfs driver problems in an old CentOS kernel, I was highly motivated to try another hosting arrangement where I could have my kernel of choice.

In mid May I set about creating a new tarragon. It took less than a week to set up, including all my learning curve, and all the migration issues, data transfer, etc. It has been running as for over a month. The few hiccups were mistakes of transition on my part. Up to this moment I have had no problem which has turned out to be of any but my own making.

The overall costs appears, so far, to be quite similar. There is still some distortion by an unusual amount of traffic as I struggle with a new backup strategy, but once that settles out I think the costs will be about the same. I think I might actually have saved money, except that I have taken advantage of features in Amazon which were unavailable in the previous arrangement.

For example, the lovely disk snapshot feature. The new layout maintains a separate btrfs volume for all the system data which needs to be backed up (mail, repositories, databases, web data, configurations, certificates).  I use the Amazon EC2 snapshot feature to snapshot that entire volume every night. Quite apart from the normal backup scheme, this provides a very easy first level backup for any failure, and for mistakes I might make in managing the server, upgrading to new kernels, etc. This additional level of backup will amount to $8-$10 dollars a month.

I have also completely revised the backup strategy for all the computers now that all the linux machines have been changed over to employ btrfs. Previously I had a monthly invoice for Amazon S3 that ran around $15, but that has been cut at least in half with the new strategy. Taken together my monthly outlay for hosting+backup services is very nearly the same as it was before the change, but with a great deal of improvement in functionality, greatly increased computer power and ram, greatly increased storage on the server, and a greatly improved backup posture.

Overall I am very pleased with the Amazon EC2 service.