Why ‘dedicated only’ is best…

Ben Waters
Ben Waters CTO

Most agency owners know the quality of their hosting… and most agency owners know that their client’s reputation will be adversely affected if there’s consistent problems. Therefore, most agency owners know to choose the best hosting they can, and when they find the right hosting partner – they resist switching under any circumstances.

This is understandable, and in fact the strategy I adopted for years.

A little background – I used to do all our hosting for my agency. I started off as a hosting company, and the companies split up for a while, then I merged them back together… then I let go of hosting altogether to focus on marketing (around two years ago from point of writing).

But from around 2015 to 2018 (the point of moving away from hosting), whilst I was technically responsible for the hosting, it wasn’t my hardware. I had rented dedicated virtual servers, and implemented shared hosting for the majority, and dedicated servers for the rest.

And during that time, I wasn’t happy.

Not with our provider, I knew it wasn’t them, it was the technology. Shared hosting just… didn’t deliver.

On my original hosting solution, I implemented a sort of virtualisation. I had physical servers, which ran FreeBSD (a Unix-like operating system) and used a technology called Jails. What this meant was, every website sort of got its own dedicated server, although it wasn’t quite. But the upshot was, I had a template to start from, then could customise that server however I liked, and whatever happened inside that jail, stayed inside that jail, and subsequently it was more secure.

I conceded in 2015, to “get with the times” and use cPanel/WHM. And at first it was incredible, because the power/flexibility you had was something I had never really experienced. But as ever, convenience comes with a price-tag.

And despite implementing a variety of tools – such as LVE to manage the resources on the server – I still didn’t get what I wanted: each website to be free to use the resources it needs, without impacting other websites, and with the ability to customise the environment for each hosting account as needed.

So around late 2018, we started conceiving of the idea. We rented some virtual machines off the shelf, and quickly experienced some pretty awful customer service all round (we were just after some testing environments, really, but it made me aware of the poor quality of service some providers offered!).

By early 2019 we had the plans in place, and started to focus on: dedicated only. But there was one more problem.

IP addresses.

Now back when I first started doing hosting, IP addresses were running out for sure – but by nowhere near today’s standards. So now I knew: if I’m taking on hundreds and thousands of clients, I can’t possibly give everyone an IP address. It’s not responsible from a resource usage point of view.

Introducing IPv6. You may have heard of it (if you’re an agency, obviously you will have heard of it).

We give each server its own IPv6 address, then for every agency that comes on board, an IPv4 to IPv6 proxy. What that means is, for those ‘end users’ that are not on an IPv6 connection, they go via the proxy server.

It means we can give every single website their own dedicated IP address.

And unlike the technology I implemented in 2003, each server is its own dedicated virtual machine (for those that are more technical/interested – we actually use LXC containers). What this does, is allows us to balance resources, whilst providing the ability to customise PHP, Apache, MySQL in any way you want. We use SolarWinds to backup each virtual machine, so you have a practically real-time (every 15 minutes) backup of the server environment.

We’ve done all this, and we’re building a control panel that gives you the same flexibility and control that cPanel/WHM would give you.

You’ve still got full DNS control, full support for email services, and complete control over the website environment.

Balancing the resources in the right way, means that we can do all this – but be highly competitive on price – to the point where it’s cheaper than you renting your own dedicated server (…if we’re being sensible about the type of server, and number of people you’d put on a single server). After all, anyone can rent a server and stick hundreds of people on it, and make huge profits whilst delivering a sub-standard hosting. That’s not our style. If that’s what you want to do, go nuts…

…but if you want the best hosting there is, then talk to us today. Call us on 020 7099 7484 or click here to find out about the beta program.