Azure vs Hosting: Bang for Buck

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 / Posted by Luke Puplett /

Following on from my last posting about the cost of running an Azure hosted little website I have done some more calculations.

As it turned out, my previous favourite, had run out of servers and wanted more money than I was prepared to part with for the next rung up the server ladder.

Previously, I had toyed with the idea of running my own server. I can do this with Fido but they want me insured, and when I spoke to insurance people, they said that it was a waste of time as it would be incumbent on the OEM of the server that set fire to the building.

Redstation do co-lo and its cheap. You get a 100Mbit line and around 4Tb traffic cap, a 1U space in the rack and 8 IP addresses (5 usable), 24/7 access and free tea and coffee from the machine.

Couple them with a little server built here and I could be onto a sure fire value winner.

A custom PCN built 1U server with my own added reliable SSD drive will set me back $775. That's a quad core box with 8Gb RAM.

I can also load it up with my own BizSpark licensed software, which is not an option when you rent a server. Plus I can add another server some day and split out the SQL duties – although I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let's see how it all stacks up. Sorry for the micro text.


Unless I’m mistaken, and the point of a blog is much to do with airing thoughts so that others can give theirs, Windows Azure is exceptionally bad value.

I’m now using the Compute time as “time in existence” of the VM. And when the VMs are so puny, and the price is so large, 7p an hour for 1.6Ghz and 1.75Gb RAM, its not good.

When I first looked at Microsoft’s Azure platform, I thought it spelled the end for traditional hosters. Evidently not. I thought it was a low barrier to entry way for mobile app makers to get their apps into the cloud.

They have missed the opportunity to be truly disruptive in this market and charge a base rate plus the amount you use. Being MS, they own the OS and have the power to really accurately charge by utilisation, and auto provision at times or duress. At the moment, the value proposition is in the quick provisioning of servers and would benefit a company that gets massive influxes of traffic for short periods, like ticket sales.

Anyway, this is as much about Azure as it is about hosting options for a small website/service, and so it now looks like building a cheap server and paying for the rack space is the most cost-effective solution.

Until I sign a contract though, it could change. One thing that rented boxes provide is a little more peace of mind from driving down to the chilled room with a screwdriver at 2am. Although from my experience, hardware doesn’t fault that easily and its almost always a dodgy spindle.

With SSD drives, I hope to eliminate that.

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Comment by Luke Puplett on Friday, June 11, 2010

I eventually bought a second hand IBM eServer twin dual 2.6 Opterons and 4Gb RAM for £169. 10.4Ghz proc power for under £200 is a bargain. Because spindles are the most common thing to break, I eBayed an Intel X25-M for £155 and now have a pretty nippy server colocated at Redstation. I can also use my BizSpark licenses and can customise my hardware, add extra servers and probably even my own hardware firewall if I wanted. However, I do have to drive down to fix problems (and pay for replacement parts) and its shared location could mean someone accidentally pulling the power out.

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