My friend Jason is blogging about Joyents grids and linked to one of their new whitepapers. The cost structures in the whitepaper were interesting to me, to give the executive summary for $2425 a month they got in aggregate 12 GB of RAM, 130GB of storage, and 750GB of public transfer. Some of the storage was block, and some was “distributed NFS mounted.” In systems terms, this came down to 800/mo for Big-IP load balancing, 1000/mo for 8 web servers, and 500/mo for 2 DBs.
Since a lot of startups ask me for hardware advice, I was curious this setup would compare to one of the better dedicated providers, LayeredTech. As disclosure, Automattic currently has 8 servers with Joyent that we got when WP.com first started (and they were called Textdrive) and we have 50+ with Layered Tech. Both are active, we serve blog traffic from Dallas (LT) and the main site/tags traffic from San Diego (Joyent).
However this raises an interesting question: If we had $2425/mo to burn and were just starting out, which would be a better choice?
We have the Joyent costs laid out there in a typographically-correct whitepaper, so I decided to dig into LayeredTech’s slightly-1999 website to see what would be comprable. First I started with the web nodes, their best deal currently seem to be the AMD 275 dual core with 2GB RAM, 250gb HD for 175/mo. Let’s get 10 of those. Let’s get two more but with dual 73gb SCSI mirrored drives for the DBs, at 190/mo. We need a file server, something CPU light, I went for this one and put two mirrored 500gb drives in it for 159/mo. Finally we need some load balancers. Two million hits a day is only 23 requests a second, which my laptop couuld probably do, but let’s get two 3800s at 109/mo each and we can put Pound + Wackamole on them for high availability. Those can easily balance probably about 30-40mbps of traffic each.