What is powering GridServer?

MediaTemple recently released a new hosting platform, GridServer, which basically promises to set up your site on a very scalable network of server, where you are not tied down to any specific piece of hardware, and your site can handle large amounts of traffic without hiccupping. (I switched my sites to (gs) last week, almost no problems so far, and the pages are being served very fast).

Ben Rockwood has posted some speculation as to how (mt) may have set up their whole new service offering:

The Grid magic is this: store all use data on NFS so that no matter which system you connect to you can access the data. Then spread your vhost configuration to all hosts in the “grid”, so that any system can serve your data. This system is therefore highly scalable because adding an additional node to the “grid” is trivial and reliable because if one system dies, big deal. But this means that you require two things to make it work: really good load balancers and really good NFS storage. And by good I mean very reliable and extremely fast.

The NFS in this case would be something from BlueArc. Although some people (in the comments and elsewhere) have expressed concern as to the viability of this setup, that doesn’t concern me too much. I am not running anything really mission-critical on the (gs) servers (and even if I was, I do not see it as being any less vulnerable than the traditional shared hosting setup where your site is on one physical box with 2000 other sites).

It does make for an interesting read though.

(Update: right after I wrote this, MediaTemple experienced some more problems with the (gs) service. You can read about what happened and the solution here. Everything seems to be working fine on my end now.)

MediaTemple vs. DreamHost

Four days ago, my webhost (who will remain nameless for the time being) noticed that its aging servers (all hosted by third-party enterprise hosting services) were dying. So they decided to upgrade all of the servers, and switch to a different hosting location at the same time. The result: my sites hosted by them were down or unusable for (well, actually, I cannot give an accurate number because at the time of writing, the sites are still down, and the server on which they were hosted is only “27% migrated”). I had been thinking of switching webhosts for some time, but foolishly did not take any action on these impulses, since “everything seems to be working ok for now”. Luckily, with month old backups of my different wordpress databases, plus cached feedburner feeds, I have all of the content I will need to recreate my sites on a new host (and then add back some missing items when my old host finally gets their act together).

For me, it came down to MediaTemple and DreamHost. I have used DreamHost for a client site in the past, and found that they are a company that is very concientous of their customer’s well-being. They go out of their way to give easy access to different server features on their (somewhat bizzare looking but very useful) control panel, and overall are very open about different issues that are occuring with their servers (and are not afraid to take responsibility when things get messed up and it is their fault). Overall, I have been pretty impressed with their hosting, as well as customer service. (And am reassured that if problems occurred on a server, that they would take care of it ASAP, unlike my current webhosts). Continue reading