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Need to choose between colo and lease

6:28 am on Sep 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from NL 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lammert is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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My current server configuration consists of six dedicated leased servers for the core database and web serving work, two small leased VPSes for some additional functions and two privately owned servers for company specific tasks like internal email and source version control databases.

All leased boxes are fairly new and all running Centos 7, but the privately owned servers were bought in 2008 and 2010 and running Centos 5. Security maintenance of Centos 5 will stop at the end of Q1 2017 and I now already see some incompatibility problems because the Centos 5 distribution doesn't support the high encryption standards which Google Chrome demands since the latest update. Practically this is not a problem yet because these two servers are mainly used for internal company tasks and have no publicly facing web interface, but I nevertheless will decide in the coming months about the future of these boxes.

The reason to chose for privately owned co-located boxes in the past was two-fold. First of all at that time, co-locating your own box was significantly cheaper than leasing one with the same specs from a hosting company. The second reason was that I felt more comfortable whenever a dispute with the hosting company would arise that I could just drive to the data center, put the server in my car trunk and connect it somewhere else on the net. Especially with critical data as internal emails and source databases.

In 2016, the landscape seems to have changed. The dedicated lease boxes have equal or better specs (except for the hardware raid and hot swap disks in my private servers) for about half of the price I pay for co-location per server. Using software RAID and standard disks may increase the chance and length of downtime, but that is compensated by having the six servers in a high-availability configuration with real-time replication in three data centers in three countries. Automatic fail over moves all users to one of the remaining data centers within minutes in case a server or a whole data center becomes unresponsive.

Therefore the only reason to still have private boxes is to be independent from the whims of the co-location companies when it comes to the most valuable company assets.

I pretty much see the following options:
  • Replace the owned servers with new owned servers
  • Replace the owned servers with lease boxes
  • Upgrade the boxes to Centos 7 and let them run until they die (they are brand A hardware and were not stressed)
  • Firewall them completely from the outside world and let them work in their current state until they die

Amazon is no option. Amazon already stores TB+ of my backups and I don't want to put more eggs in that basket. They are too expensive compared to my current lease deals anyway.

I am undecided which path to go. I therefore would like to hear your input on this to see if you have good arguments to chose for a specific option.
11:55 pm on Sept 17, 2016 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I've been a fan of managed leased boxes but that's just for web stuff. I don't know if I'd do the same for infrastructure like e-mail.

If your co-located hardware is good and it's only an OS update that is in your way of using them I might opt for the OS upgrade. It's fun to get new hardware, but it's not always necessary.

I've got a similar issue with leased boxes running older FreeBSD. They can't support the newer encryption and so I'm going to have to upgrade them. However the hardware is a bit underpowered, so I'll likely upgrade that as well. They just move me to new hardware and swap in better components when necessary. That's my biggest draw to the leased boxes for me. I like the flexibility of incrementally improving or switching hardware if I want to.