Debating Building My Own “Data Center”

Old 6 Comments on Debating Building My Own “Data Center” 73

Lately I have been experimenting with the idea of offering web services to my followers.  There are a ton of useful services out on the web, but unfortunately you rarely know who is running them and what their motive is.  My thought is if I can start offering the same types of services then my followers will know the motivation and thought process behind them.  Basically extending the “Eli” brand into the service world. (One thought is to create a Caching Proxy Server dedicated for OS/ Software Updates and Tech Tools.  Basically only white list known support sites so that you can pull updates down significantly faster.)

In the short term this would simply act as good advertising.  Possibly in the long term I could figure out a way to have them bring in some money.

The issue that I have is that although there are numbers cheap VPS solutions, and inexpensive Dedicated Server solutions that they have massive bottlenecks.  For these types of services you need high I/O performance, decent CPU specs, and a fast local network.

In an age of super fast SSD most of the solutions on the market still use slow platter drives.  When you look at VPS solutions you find that it is very difficult to figure out what you’re really getting when it comes to CPU performance.  And if you need servers to speak with each other that causes it’s own issues.

Until recently thinking about running your own little “data center” out of your house was a bad joke.  To get the stability you’d need for your internet connection you’d have to go with a very expensive enterprise quality solution such as Carrier Grade Ethernet or T1, and with those you pay for stability and not speed.  They still offer 1.5Mbps T1 lines for $300 per month…

Trying to run services off of a residential connection still is a nightmare since this is generally banned in your agreement, and the ISP’s specifically target shutting these types of things down.  Not only that but residential service can be sporadic as hell.

The curious option that is now starting to make sense is Business Class service from ISP’s.  For Business Class Service you  pay about 50% more than for Residential Service but I have found you generally run into few problems, and the ISP’s actually care if you are upset.  I have been using Business Class Service FIOS in my house for a couple of years and very rarely run into any issues even when I’ve been streaming 1080p. (Most of the issues I had were on YouTube’s end).  With the new speed options it becomes an interesting prospect to think about running my only little server farm right in my house.

They have numerous different price points, but for 500 Down and 100 Up with a Static IP and no Contract it comes to $394 per month. Even though many people now think that 1 Gbps connections are the only way to go the reality is that unless you’re pushing big chunks of data it doesn’t matter so much.  If you’re doing Streaming Services then 100Mbps MAY not be enough, but if you’re just pushing out HTML, CSS and a pile of Image files 100Mbps will support a lot of end users.

The benefit of being able to buy this with no contract is that you can build your infrastructure, gain traction, and then if you decide to really be “serious” you can simply pick up all your servers and move them to a colocation facility where you’ll pay $1000-$2000 per month.

Since I already own 20+ Computers, Cisco Gear and everything I’d need to build a pretty cool infrastructure it seems like this may be a good way to go.

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Eli Etherton

I am Eli "the Computer Guy" and have been in the tech industry for approx. 20 years doing all kinds of odd projects. I started as an electronics tech in the US Army, worked in corporate IT during the IT Boom, was an individual consultant and grew my tech shop to have numerous full time employees and supported small business clients with computer repair/ server maintenance/ web development/ surveillance systems/ telephone systems until the great recession. After that I started creating video training on all the topics I know and now have a YouTube Channel with over 500K subscribers. I am the founder of and my plan is to create a tech "news" site that I would actually find useful if I was still in the server room.

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  1. Katy Pillman August 22, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Seems reasonable, for your location. Time warner for over 100 up and down, with over a thousand clients can still handle speed.

  2. Jeff Newman August 22, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, Eli…

    I did this for a while. I offered Web space and hosting and Exchange mailboxes to friends and associates, I had a couple of domains that people wanted email accounts from and things kind of took off from there.

    It was a pain in the neck (and lower down). Constant issues with adding and expanding service.

    IIS became IIS with FTP, PERL, PHP, MySQL, etc. Exchange became Outlook support, Outlook Web Access, IMAP and POP3 access. I found my Exchange servers being used as relays more than once (Exchange 2003 didn’t come locked down.)

    It was fun and useful when I started, but after a while it became a drain on other activities. What fees I charged didn’t come close to covering electrical and Internet costs.

    I learned a lot, however. I continued to run an Exchange server for years afterward, and having a stack of Compaq ProLiant servers in the bedroom, each sucking 700+ watts, spurred me on to virtualize everything, first using VMware Server (GSX) and later ESX and ESXi.

    I still have a data center at home, I still have servers and NASes, and a hardware firewall, and gigabit and 10-gigabit switches. I still have a block of static IP addresses, and I still host; mostly my own sites. But the infrastructure is all mine now and I don’t have to sweat an hour of down time for patching or a misconfiguration somewhere that prevents someone from updating their Web site. I don’t have users wanting files from backup and none asking for deleted messages to be restore.

    I liked giving away tech to make people happy, but the rewards ended up being few and far between. Nary a Thank you and eventually the feeling that I couldn’t touch (or patch or upgrade or change or transition ) anything for fear that it would break something and I’d have to answer for it.

    It ultimately made me a better administrator, a better engineer and a better architect, but I am happier now that the responsibility is gone and my data center is my own.

  3. Katy Pillman August 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Oh, Eli!
    I would love an email service from you, a mx domain. I am using Google Apps for $5 a month, and I don’t want to spend it for only email. I don’t use the other services like drive or google+ really that much, and find it easier to use a personal account on google. So anyway to setup email server? A good domain could be, which is not registered at the moment of the comment. Also a good php mailbox is RainLoop if you are willing to invest.
    Thanks for your awesome effort and services!

  4. Martin Lehner August 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Sigh. Here’s what I can get for $399.00 per month:

    Surf on the fastest speeds available in the North
    High Speed Cable modem
    Download speeds of up to 100 Mbps
    Upload speeds of up to 5 Mbps
    350 GB of usage cap per month (additional usage $2.50/GB, charged in 1 cent increments)

    Don’t even get a static IP 🙁

    • Jyri Valta August 25, 2014 at 3:59 am

      50 Mbps down / 30 Mbps up on a mobile broadband 4G LTE-usbmodem, unlimited data plan. 25 € / month, no static IP. But that’s enough talk about my internet connection.
      If you started hosting that kind of services, i would at least try it out, and if it proves to be good for my use, i would even pay for it. Have you thought of even merging these services with the overall Eli The Computer Guy / Geekbraindump empire, cause that would be awesome?

  5. Darwin Groskleg August 26, 2014 at 11:22 am

    That sounds very tempting when combined with your expertise, hardware and isp rate.
    However, your product selling point is trust in your brand.

    As you have often said “you guys like free stuff”,
    so you’d be betting the same folks fundamentally appreciate the value of brand trust vs better cost savings or performance.
    So I guess you wouldn’t be selling to your youtube viewers but leveraging how they helped grow the brand.

    Even as a smaller project it would maintain the fuel for your daily blob topics with very current real world scenarios and technologies.

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