A New Home For The BrainDonor Network

The BrainDonor Network has a new home in the cloud! I have moved everything from Slicehost to Amazon Web Services. With Rackspace finally pushing through the migration of server images from Slicehost to the Rackspace Cloud, I knew I had the perfect opportunity to switch. Having deployed several client sites to AWS, I also knew I had the comfort level to get everything migrated and set up—so that I could start ignoring it once again.

Wait!? Ignore It!?

You heard that right! I prefer to ignore my own site as much as possible. I’ve learned over the years that if I have to babysit my own servers and services, then I am doing things wrong. This is simple economics. I don’t get paid directly for operating The BrainDonor Network. Whenever I write new posts, compose tweets, or push commits I am spending my personal time. System administration is unfortunately not something that I enjoy—so I prefer to avoid it whenever possible and whenever I’m confident that it will not expose me to significant risks.

What pushed me to this attitude for my own site was the “War on Spam”. There was a time when I took great pride in having the hardware that hosted The BrainDonor Network sitting in my office at home. Everything was hosted here: web, email, chat, games, music, etc. This was a ton of fun and a great way for me to keep up to date on how to run an online presence for other businesses. Unfortunately, it was getting harder every year to keep in touch with those businesses. I was spending a couple hours a month just making sure that my email would go through. At this point, I finally had enough and decided to host my email someplace where I knew it wouldn’t be blocked lightly—Google. With email already offloaded to the cloud, I was quick to take advantage of affordable virtual private server hosting that rolling out.

What Did Slicehost Do Wrong?

Slicehost really didn’t do anything wrong. They’re parent company—Rackspace—also didn’t really do anything wrong. No matter the hype and marketing, Rackspace excels at provided managed dedicated hosting. Their cloud offerings have continued to be a secondary service. Up until recently, Rackspace even had separate support teams. This caused me all kinds of professional hilarity when trying to deploy solutions to their hybrid hosting. You literally had to demand a conference call to get everyone on the phone to get things fixed—wasting an enormous amount of everyone’s time.

Another significant reason for me to make the switch was to refresh the infrastructure. I’ve replaced Apache with nginx and mod_php with FastCGI. I’ve also cut out a lot of technology pieces that I wasn’t using: phpmysql, postgres, mod_python, etc. Sure, all of the old data is backed-up and stored…but I’m confident that I won’t need it operational any time soon. I’ve always found it infinitely easier to just start fresh than to actually clean up a server. I also wanted to switch away from Ubuntu.

Why Amazon Web Services?

Amazon offers an absolutely dizzying array of services on their cloud platform and their prices are continually setting the bar for cloud computing. I’m also not all that afraid of vendor lock-in with them. I know I can get everything here set up and restored on a new cloud provider in just a matter of hours—even if Amazon were to go completely dark.

April 10th, 2012