Hosting

What are the pros and cons of cross provider hosting?

Kerry Davis

February 26th, 2015

I have a B2B business model where small businesses will come to my site, sign up, purchase free and premium products (mostly software widgets with recurring charges), very mild provisioning (adding a URL to a coupon or landing page for example) of those products, and then occasionally go away only to come back for more purchases and re-provisioning.

On the flip side of that, these provisioned products will be served up to the businesses customers via mobile apps, browser extensions, youtube videos, physical beacons and potentially even TV commercials. This will mean there is much higher potential for spikes to my hosted database from the businesses customer rather than the businesses themselves. Even analytics for all of this will be hosted elsewhere (like maybe google analytics but not sure).

Right now I have my web page hosted on GoDaddy so I don't have to worry about scaling but I also don't know how well that will work if I start to sign up thousands and maybe tens of thousands of businesses. I have also secured an AWS free tier EC2 and RDS processor instances and I think it is a safe bet that I should move my database over to the RDS which is a managed service specifically for database scalability. What I don't know is should I also move my page over to the EC2 on AWS or just leave it on GoDaddy and have everything access the database in the RDS remotely including my web page? Assuming GoDadday can handle the B2B traffic, it is probably far cheaper for me to continue to host the lower bandwidth, more static, non-real time (aka responses in under a second) traffic there and put the more dynamic, real time dependent database under a managed service like Amazons RDS.

Anyone have experience with cross provider hosting like this or adamantly against it for some reason? I know also I will need a better email host than I have with Godaddy for customer signup confirmations. At least with their basic email hosting plan. My email had a 16 hour delay recently and when I called to complain they didn't really care because I was on what is basically free email hosting with my web site.

Yazan Al-Sheikhly CEO at Right Servers Inc., Co-Founder at BitSent Inc.

February 26th, 2015

You shouldn't be having 16 hour delays, the server you're on is most likely overloaded. As far as using multiple hosting providers, that's no problem as all just point your application to use the remote DV and set up the appropriate security and permissions (keys, usernames, etc.), a managed hosing provider would be able to help you out with that. Kind regards, Yazan

Igor Chernyy

February 26th, 2015

If you believe that your provider for static website can handle the load there is nothing wrong with that setup up. 

I would urge you to ensure that you access your database in a secure way (don't hardcode your access keys, make sure your db calls are protected from sql scripting attacks, etc). Also I would also recommend you setup extensive monitoring and alerting on your database to ensure that if it is compromised you can cut off the access ASAP.

Zachary McClung Chief Customer Officer | Cloud Servers | Disaster Recovery | CDN | Dedicated Servers

February 26th, 2015

Kerry - I'm sorry if you felt I didn't understand the question or properly answer it, it wasn't my intention at all. The logic comes from, your website doesn't need to connect remotely. The mobile apps do. There is simply no way around it. Being in this industry for a decade now, when designing a solution it is always about removing latency and improving reliability. I don't see a lot of cross provider hosting as a strategy, it doesn't make a lot of sense. A typical provider can provide fail over service, geo diversification, global dns and sql clustering without an issue. It can be done more affordable then $2,000.00 per month. For e-mail reliability I'd use something like mandrill. I'd host the site with the database, I'd use global dns and I'd load balance everything. You'll be able to do it for a couple hundred bucks to start and you'll be unlimited growth without the hassle of managing a bunch of providers and specialties. Normally providers aren't willing to get on the phone with each other to troubleshoot an issue and then your stuck miles from shore without a paddle.

Lisa Retief Experienced software engineering leader and entrepreneur.

February 26th, 2015

EC2 to RDS is nothing like a cross-host setup. It is highly optimized, in the same region, data transfer is free etc. They are build to work together, by the best in the business.

If your static pages are not talking to your database or application (which, by definition, they are not) then putting the dynamic pages in one place and the static pages in another should be a manageable intermediate situation.

However, I can not imagine having the static pages hosted in the same place as the dynamic pages would add much to your cost, and you would benefit in terms of simplicity and forward growth.

I would need more detail on volumes and usage of the static vs dynamic to advise further.

Jake Carlson Software Development Manager at Oracle

February 26th, 2015

Yes, you will want to move your application to the same internal network environment as the database server if at all possible. Less latency, more secure, period. If the mobile app connects directly to the remote database (doesn't use an intermediary API) then yes it doesn't really matter for mobile. If it uses an API which in turn hits the database, then the API should absolutely be hosted at the same place for the same reasons listed above. 200ms may not sound like a lot but 1) that's best case scenario, and 2) that may actually be a significant % of full run time depending on the operation. If you do connect to a remote database, make damn sure the connection is secure if you're dealing with sensitive data (I recommend this even for local network database connections, but there is less of a risk there).

Finally, I wouldn't make too many assumptions about mobile connections. When on decent wifi local network latency will not be the bottleneck, but off of wifi the connection can be quite slow.


Clynton Caines SharePoint Developer at Discover Technologies

February 26th, 2015

I've managed domains and websites for a very long time - and even for static pages, I would stay away from godaddy and other low-cost/free-ish hosters. The reason is that they lump your site in with many others - on limited servers... for every service. That means email (as you've discovered) and web. Whenever I have pure static pages that can live on those types of hosters I always apply a CDN from a separate provider to ensure the pages/images get served.

As for the aws instances, you could buy a lot for $2k/month - a lot! However, from what you're describing, I would expect to spend no more than $200/month to start. If you're going to stick with the approach (as opposed to using a higher level provider like parse.com), then it's a good idea to start with the smaller, free instances and test your site's responsiveness under increasing load. Once everything is in place, it's really easy to scale up. Especially if this is your first big aws implementation, you could waste a ton of $ over a few months while you implement, test and optimize everything. They offer a large number of useful blocks - many of which you wont need. btw, if you've already budgeted a hefty sum right of the gate, then you might be better off spending it on tech talent to architect your solution or on aws optimization/implementation training.

Zachary McClung Chief Customer Officer | Cloud Servers | Disaster Recovery | CDN | Dedicated Servers

February 26th, 2015

I think the wrong question is being asked. 

What is your business worth to you? While GoDaddy may host the site cheaply. What is an hour, a day or an emergency migration going to cost you? Shared hosting isn't meant for high traffic sites. The terms of service of large companies like GoDaddy are littered with hooks, you have to or you wouldn't be able to properly manage the fleet. For Joe the Plumber who just has a site online to have one online, GoDaddy or others are fine. When your business is an online business, can you really take that risk (reputation, revenue, etc)?

Personally, not a huge fan of cross provider hosting. Remote database hosting is a good way to cause bottlenecks and latency leaving your customers wondering when the page is going to complete its process in peak times. 

Kerry Davis

February 26th, 2015

@Zachary, while it may not be the "right" question to ask (assuming that exists), I think you should reread the question. That database is going to be hit remotely anyway BY DEFINITION of my business model, by mobile apps, other remote web sites, and browser extensions. Not sure what difference it makes if you add my website to that list as well.

I am certainly not an IT guy which is why I posed the question, and I didn't even know that cross provider hosting was used as a strategy by anyone else (which is also why I asked). But the idea of paying an extra $2k potentially a month for an EC2 instance when I don't have to, is also not appealing to me.

What my business is worth to me, as a court lawyer would say, is argumentative and doesn't provide much of an answer. I already stated in the question that, at least initially we should assume, it would not be a "high traffic" WEB site and Godaddy could handle the traffic. And trust me I know GoDaddy terms of service suck. But it was just an example with an assumption I already made embedded in the question to not worry about that part.

Igor Chernyy

February 26th, 2015

I agree with Zachary. If you are using your web page to simply relay information about your business and maybe gather leads then what you have is probably ok. However if you are doing more than bare minimum you really want a much greater level of control over your system. 

I have dealt with GoDaddy in the past and - if your website will be slammed it might take them as much as an hour to scale you up to handle the traffic. More so you don't even get notified when that happens (at least when I worked with them they didn't have that option).

Kerry Davis

February 26th, 2015

I wish I had not mentioned GoDaddy now:) My bad.

Let me restate the question. Is it OK to have a static web site unmanaged on a different host ASSUMING (big assumption on my part and I accept that) the unmanaged web host can handle the load and we know that load will be considerably less than the access to the database.

One might say that running your web site out of an unmanaged AWS EC2 instance that accesses your MySQL database from an RDS instance is the exact same thing? Is it not?