Your website needs to be on a computer somewhere for it to run, that’s where our servers come in to play. The main things affecting the cost of buying a server are:
- CPU – The bit that does most of the work
- Memory – Holds the data the CPU is working on
- Disk Space – Somewhere for your data to go
We’re going to look at the CPU & memory together and then at the storage, as we do storage differently to a lot of providers.
The CPU & memory are the “brain” of the server, they do the work that runs your code, accesses your databases and presents the output to the user. We allocate an amount of memory and CPU to every customer (there’s a cost associated with doing this, but we’ll cover that under software) so we need to make sure we’ve got plenty to go around.
What do we mean by plenty? We mean servers with 16 to 64 modern CPU cores and 128GB or 256GB of RAM. A server with a lower number of CPU cores generally means each core is much faster, so ideal for where the speed of a single request is most import than how many requests can be served at once.
A typical server will cost from £2000 to £10,000 excluding storage, which we’ll cover in a moment.
Now the eagle eyed of you will have noticed from our virtual hosting page that even our Yokto package comes with 1 vCPU core and will be thinking:
“Does that mean they only put 16 to 64 of those accounts on a server?”
No it doesn’t, there’s no point hiding it or sugar coating it.
If every single customer on a server wanted to use 100% of their CPU allowance at the same time they couldn’t and we agree that may seem strange, though we know from extensive experience that this doesn’t happen.
It’s very rare that more than a handful of websites on a server are busy at the same time as each other and using our experience, per customer limits and by closely monitoring usage we make sure that you can use your full account resources when you need to. As a result our busiest virtual hosting server has used a maximum of 33.5% of its CPU and 40% of its memory in the last 24 hours (in the middle of the working week).
If we gave every customer completely dedicated CPU cores then we’d have to charge significantly more per month (this is why our cloud servers cost more for the same resources) and the server would sit relatively unused most of the time which wouldn’t be great for our environmental impact.
This isn’t something unique to us and it’d be very rare to find a provider not doing this, we just wanted to be honest and tell you that it happens as it’s one of the main factors governing the price we charge per account – If we doubled the number of customers per server, we could halve the price we charged you, but performance would most likely suffer, and we’re all about the performance.
The one thing we haven’t mentioned is how much power the servers use which is typically between 300 – 700W (1.3 – 3.0A) depending on the exact specification and excluding storage.
Traditionally servers used the disks inside them store their data, initially just on single drives, then later using RAID to combine drives/increase reliability and capacity. This has a number of downsides:
- Servers are limited in the amount of data they have access to
- Servers are limited to the performance of the storage they have access to
- A RAID card in each server increases purchase costs and power usage
- A RAID card can introduce its own problems and complexities
- Drives are often under utilised
With our new systems we’ve moved on from legacy storage and utilise an advanced Software-defined-Storage solution from Storpool. Put simply this allows us to offer amazingly fast and reliable storage.
As we’ll discuss in a moment, this does come at a cost of software licensing and of course we still have to purchase drives to store the data on, in fact we have to purchase more than we normally would as each piece of data is stored on three drives. Our virtual hosting uses our NVMe (the latest storage technology) storage pool, so each piece of data is stored on three enterprise NVMe drives at a purchase cost of approximately £450-600 per TB of data stored.
As the servers need access to the high speed storage network, they also need very fast network cards to access it at £250-500.
The drives and network cards also use power that we need to account for in our pricing, which comes out at around 16-20W (0.07 – 0.087A) per TB.
To make sure your data is safe should the data centre we primarily utilise be hit by a disaster we backup your data in an offsite location. Fortunately most website data compresses so for every 1TB of data we need roughly 750GB of storage space to make the initial backup, then roughly 250-400GB for any changes to the data during the period we retain it.
This data storage doesn’t need to be as fast as it does for your websites and databases, which means it is cheaper to build and to run, for a typical hosting server offsite backup storage costs might be £75-250 per month. This figure includes the data storage costs, plus the network costs of transferring the data to the offsite location.
For providers who don’t backup your data as often, or store copies of it for as long as we do the costs may be less, especially if they aren’t keeping the backups offsite.