I am starting to see problems with my old, long running server. It gets bogged down very easily. I am considering 2 options:
An expensive initial investment but is very versatile. The server can be local or in a remote location as well as being able to re-purpose the computer if needed to say a dedicated MythTV box. Any parts can be re-used in another computer or vise versa like adding a Drobo to increase the storage as a file server with data redundancy. Of course making it a multipurpose server will eventually bog it down so much it will need more power or split the load on another server.
The down side to this plan is the maintenance and bandwidth. Computer maintenance from trivial things like cleaning and paying for electricity to the normal backups and ensuring it works through the router firewall. Web servers need more upload speed than download but this will be limited to the broadband plan of where it will be.
VPS is the more expensive option but the hardware is all taken care of. In general terms there are web and shell access which make it easier and there are a variety of distributions available. Most VPS providers give a guaranteed amount of service with a burstable performance when needed. The business line will definitely give it an edge over home broadband line such as blocked ports or upload speeds. This gives way nicely to running mail, web, FTP, etc servers.
I’m not sure how well it will scale in terms of requesting more power and storage to down scaling. There are bandwidth caps and with the server location being off site it would rule out uses such as a file server and printer server. The combination of pay per storage and data transfer rules it out as a remote processing cluster for dvd::rip or MythTV backend.
Amazon web services are very attractive because of their cheap prices (compared to dedicated servers), flexibility and scalability. Whilst the integration of the different services offered by Amazon, e.g S3, EC2, CloudFront, etc could be improved it is currently still too expensive for me. Ideally this would be the best option but according to rought calculations it would cost over twice as much as a VPS monthly cost and that is not factoring in the cost of bandwidth used.
A hybrid system would see different components hosted on different services. With the advances of Amazon SimpleDB API I can expect it would be only a matter of time before dynamic websites / blogs using the service as well as other web applications. Amazon S3 / Drop Box / etc can be used for online storage and the only thing that would be left is the web server itself. This may be enough to alleviate the load and let me continue to use the current computer. This will require some integration work as well as better Amazon SimpleDB API to SQL compatibility but it could be solution.
I do not intend to replace the server till next year but I would like to say I am definitely thinking about it. The IBM Aptiva has served it’s purpose well for well over 4 years but is finally showing it’s age. I do intend to stick with a Linux OS as much as possible just to keep me in tune with maintaining a headless Linux computer.