An Uncontrollable Urge

A few years ago Andy and I ran a hosting company. It never got that far, but it was fun, and also a learning experience.  Today I’m finding that I can’t get the idea of starting it again out of my head. The problem is that, this time, I’d want to start it big.

There are a bunch of technologies that I find downright exciting:

  • Old racks full of blade servers are hitting the used market. And by “old” I mean dual 2-3 GHz Xeons, a gig or two of RAM, and hard drives that still rival what hosts are renting in dedicated servers. I’d probably want to put in new drives, but the machines are cheap and they’re plentiful.
  • Boston has a number of good data centers, and all the big Tier 1 providers are here. That there seem to be no well-known hosting companies out here is frankly kind of surprising. You have no idea how badly I want to pick up a couple racks in a colocation facility, and pull in a couple 100 Mbps lines.
  • cPanel looks like it’s matured a lot since I last used it, and it has some good third-party stuff such as script installers. It looks like it remains the number one choice in virtual hosting.
  • Xen is downright exciting. It permits splitting a physical host into multiple virtual machines. With the advent of chips with hardware virtualization support from both AMD and Intel, it now runs with very little overhead. It used to require extensive modifications to the “guest” OS, so that only modified versions of Linux worked. With newer processors, though, you’re able to run machines without them having to know they’re in a virtual machine, opening up options. You can run Windows now. The virtual dedicated server / virtual private server market is growing. (Xen also supports moving hosts between physical servers, which has a lot of nice applications, too!)
  • OpenBSD’s firewall, pf, continues to intrigue me for its power. I just found PFW, a really spiffy web GUI for managing pf. Not only does it do basic firewall stuff, but it’s got support for prioritization of traffic / QoS, and for load balancing. I’m probably just scratching the surface.
  • I’ve spent years honing my admin skills and improving server performance. Improved performance on a shared server, of course, means more clients per server, or more money.

I’m wholly convinced I should start a Boston hosting company. I just need $100,000 capital or so. (Santa, do you read my blog? Do you fund businesses? I’ll give you partial equity.)

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