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Author Topic: How much does serious hosting cost?  (Read 4408 times)

KoRn Addict

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How much does serious hosting cost?
« on: December 04, 2009, 11:46:20 AM »

I'm doing a project for an economics class and it is my objective to try and estimate return rate & cash flows on a hypothetically successful social networking site, in this case I've chosen to model after LinkedIn.com. The details aren't important, but since I imagine it's rare if ever that a powerful site like that would be comparison shopping for hosting online, I'm having a hard time estimating hosting costs for such a beast. I know some of you on here have more experience with hosting *cough*Ed*cough*, so I was wondering if anyone might be able to pin a monthly cost for hosting? My research has found that they are hosted by InterNAP and generate approximately 110 TB/mo of traffic. I imagine their database size is negligible to the cost of the bandwidth, so I will not be considering that in the cost.

Any help with this assessment would be really awesome, this stuff is hard to find online as far as I've experienced.
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urgannagru

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Re: How much does serious hosting cost?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 01:29:13 PM »

When you get to a certain size, its not about cost as much as it is about is it possible, and I assume LinkedIn is probably at that size. I doubt they use much file storage, but they probably use lots of processing power and bandwidth with many many racks, and more costly Redundancies over multiple data centers in multiple parts of the world.

One option for calculating cost may be to go with a cloud service like Amazon's which already has such costs calculated for you.
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bliq

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Re: How much does serious hosting cost?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2010, 03:03:27 PM »

I work for a very large internet company and I've worked for other large companies in the past (though not as big my current one).  At a certain point, it makes more sense to just own your own datacenters.  We own our own facilities around the world - more than a million IPs in use.

I actually don't think Linked In is big enough to own their own datacenter- they're probably in several colos.  But they are big enough (and are well known enough) that if they are working with a single or a very few hosting companies, they can negotiate a price.  two companies, one well known and one unknown, trying to host the same set of equipment will get different prices.  The better known one will get better pricing- think of it like a feather in the cap of the hosting company- they can use it in their marketing, not to the public but as testimonials to prospective customers.

No offense, but I don't think Ed is a good example to compare to Linked In.  GideonTech is a website running a forum php package, and probably a mysql backend - not that complicated (also not to disparage Ed, this site used what it needed and nothing more).  At it's height, Ed was using probably fewer than 10 servers.  correct me if I'm wrong Ed.  At that size, Ed wouldn't have access to the volume pricing and negotiating power that a company at Linked In's size gets.

Linked in probably has several types of application servers, database servers, probably a dozen webservers, probably some billing servers, tools, QA, Acceptance testing servers.  A more complicated enterprise.  If I had to guess, Linked In is using 250-500 servers meaning they probably don't own their own datacenter and also meaning that when choosing a hosting company, they are doing comparison shopping- first for features, and then for price, once they have a list of finalists.  Storage needs with big internet companies are actually pretty big- with log retention for billing and SOX compliance.  The database might only be 2-3 TB but it's got to be fast and redundant, so you're not going to have a commodity 2U server with 6 1TB SATA drives in it.  Linked In probably has one or several EMCs handling billing and database storage and that could cost $25k a year for the maintenance contract, not to mention half a million or more just to buy.

They're probably paying a fee for sustained traffic, power (and related cooling), plus possibly space- it really depends on the hosting facility.  with 500 servers, it's probably costing $20-40+k a month depending on how much traffic they're actually pushing (this is a total guesstimate since I haven't negotiated hosting prices in a long time).  There's also the factor of CDNs like akamai.  Linked In very likely uses a service like akamai to reduce their sustained traffic costs.  Companies like Facebook and my company are at a size where it becomes cost effective to create our own CDN, you'll notice traffic coming from fbcdn.com sometimes- that's their version of an akamai-like service.

urg mentioned "what is possible".  When it comes to large scale hosting, the biggest limitation isn't network or space- it's power and cooling.  imagine a standard 42U rack, you can put 42 1U servers in there, each might need redundant PSUs, and each of those will draw 2 amps at start up.  That's 160+ amps right there.  given a standard circuit holds 20-30 amps, you may need 6-8 circuits to every rack.  a standard sized PDU handles maybe 200 or 300 amps.  Conceiveably a datacenter would have to have a PDU to every 2 or 3 racks.  But of course they don't want to buy all those PDUs.  So they try to include maybe 2 circuits per rack.  And then charge a lot for each additional circuit, maybe as much as $500/month.

There are many other factors to consider, but I don't have time at the moment to go through much more.  hope this gets you on the right track though.

This is all experience from the mid 00's.  I haven't had to do datacenter evaluation in the last 5 years or so.
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GideonX

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Re: How much does serious hosting cost?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2010, 06:21:39 PM »

Agreed with bliq, they're not that big to be in their own datacenter. I'm banking they're probably in several colos to maximize delivery speed. That's a lot different than the hosting you see usually where you are just paying for space/bandwidth and for someone else to keep your site up. Most of what bliq said is pretty spot on and should steer you in the right direction in regards to the cost to keep millions of users chugging along.
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