From day 1 we’ve managed our own physical servers. We buy them and build them and configure Linux on them and throw them in the data center ourselves. This allows us to configure things exactly as needed, and is quite cost efficient. But man are we getting sick of it. So much time is spent dealing with servers!

People have often asked us why we don’t use a cloud environment, such as Amazon. There’s two main reasons. First of all, bandwidth – our load balancers are pumping almost 4,000 requests per second through them during peak hours, and a total of about 250,000,000 requests per day (which is almost 300GB of data – per day). Last I checked, Amazon only includes 5,000,000 requests per month, and you have to pay overages for extra. I don’t know what the overage price is but considering we’ll be over our limit 30 minutes into any given month, this is a big concern.

The second reason is reliability. Cloud servers are not really guaranteed from what I understand and they can pop offline at any time. This is a very big deal when it comes to large database being stored on this type of service. Some of our database servers have over 300GB of data, although the average is closer to 100GB. And we have almost 40 database servers. If our databases were in a cloud environment and one of them popped offline, it’s going to need repairs done on it before coming back online, since it would not have been shut down properly. Not something I want to deal with.

So… do any of you have experience running high bandwidth services in a cloud environment? Doesn’t have to be Amazon. If so, how do you find the pricing? Also, any experience with running a large database in the cloud? How have you found the reliability? Any advice from people with experience with either of these scenarios is much appreciated.

We’re not necessarily going to do this. It’s just under consideration. We just want some input first!

Update: The overall consensus is that we’re insane to consider this, so it’s unlikely to happen. It was just an option we were thinking about. Thanks for your advice.

One thing I was thinking about is what if someone like Google decided to move to a hosted cloud environment. Obviously they’re 10000x bigger than us but still – that’d be insane right? To run a high bandwidth and huge I/O service, you need to go old school.