September 17, 2014 at 06:13 AM
Before I get into the big data center move, I first have to rewind back to early 2013 and my first foray into hosting my own servers. At the time I was developing a price comparison website (like Expedia or Kayak) for PVC figures from anime and video games, called Figure Stalk (which is still under development FYI).
The core component of what makes Figure Stalk run is an image matching engine that compares images of potential product matches on other vendor websites with the images on a source product page you'd feed into the website. (If you'd like to know more about the image matching engine stuff, you should take a peek at this blog post I wrote about it.) The only problem is that the image matching engine requires a fairly large amount of RAM to play with in order to be fast enough to be more than a proof of concept, and at the time all of Studio Bebop's hosting needs were being facilitated with VPS servers from Linode, who while great for what they do, weren't really equipped to meet our needs for this project (at least without costing me an arm and a leg).
So after crunching the numbers, I decided to throw caution to the wind and bought the components for a manly man server with RAM for days. Two weeks, a couple orders for missing components, and a loving kernel configuration later, Bebop3 was born! In the interest of brevity I won't bore you with all the hardware details suffice to say that Bebop3 ended up having 96 GB of RAM, 2x 2.0 Ghz 8 Core CPUs, an SSD for the OS and DB, and a 1 TB WD Red for holding all the static content.
Armed with my new super server, I was then faced with the task of finding a nice fat pipe and a static IP to hook it up to that was both close enough to where I lived in case I needed to perform maintenance, but also far enough away so that my apartment didn't end up looking like an episode of Serial Experiments Lain. At the time I was unaware that colocation was even a thing, so I ended up signing a three year agreement for business class internet with Comcast. The package I was able to get with them was for 1 static IP, 20 Mb/s up, and 50 Mb/s down for $225 a month, and while not ideal, it at least got the job done and was the best option I had available to me at the time.
Or rather I should say, it got the job done until a month or so later when I launched Yugioh Prices, which in turn took off like a rocket and quickly maxed out my measly 20 Mb/s up speed. As time went on and Yugioh Prices continued to grow in popularity, I ended up working around my bandwidth limitations with Comcast by hosting the Yugioh card images that were eating up all of my bandwidth on 4 separate Linodes, and using a round-robin load balancing strategy to split the load over the four. (Because even though Linode had the the bandwidth to serve the images without a problem, they limited me to 4 TB a month of outgoing data per VPS, and on a heavy month we'd push out somewhere between 12 and 13 TB in Yugioh card images at least.)
This set up would have been ideal if Yugioh Prices and Figure Stalk were the only things that Bebop3 was hosting, but after about a year the machine had become the primary back-end workhorse for Studio Bebop and was hosting 18 different websites and support APIs for our various products, and after seeing top stats like these as the norm last month, I knew it was time once again to invest in more server hardware. This investment took the form of Bebop6, a clone of Bebop3, but with much scarier fans.
With Bebop6 in tow, I gave Comcast the boot (well more like just unplugged everything and agreed to keep paying them because they've got me locked in a contract for another 18 months :/), and signed up with Fibernet here in Orem. I cannot understate how impressed with Fibernet I am, and how excited I am to have my servers housed in their data center, after hacking around with trying to do it myself with a mobile rackmount tank at my aunt and uncle's house in Spanish Fork, it is a huge relief to finally be in a real data center!
I've signed up for Fibernet's full cabinet bundle, which gets me:
Phew, well that's enough background on why I ended up moving my server hardware into a data center, so how about some pictures already!
Oh, and just in case you're wondering why the left fan on Bebop3 isn't spinning, it's because I accidentally got a little too close to it while it was running, and it ended up sucking one of the cuff buttons right off of my jacket, which it then proceeded to snap two of its blades off on. Now that's the kind of excessive cooling power every server should have, grunt grunt.