Monday, May 24, 2010

Azure wouldn't want to pay that much

I've got a lot of websites, and they're hosted in a variety of places, partially for cost reasons, partially for convenience, and partially just because what I had was working and it's a pain to switch. I spent most of my spare hours this weekend beginning the process of consolidating my sites to one place, and I've gotten it mostly working on the new server. If nothing else, I've learned several things about hosting.

I spent a while evaluating Windows Azure from Microsoft, and I concluded that while it's a really cool service, it's not priced with me in mind. It's pretty sweet that with a few clicks you can upload a package of files and a server somewhere will create a virtual machine, deploy your changes, and start serving up your content with basically no effort on your part. When you feel like making a new version, it'll start up a second virtual machine, and once you're done verifying that everything works, you click a button and it magically swaps out the servers for you. If your service starts to slow down under heavy load and you want another server, you click another button and a few minutes later you've got a server farm hosting for you and storage distributed across the world. Unfortunately the lowest tiers of service come out to like a hundred bucks a month if you want to just host a simple website, four or five times what I'm paying this new company. I don't need that level of power or flexibility or reliability. Maybe if one of my websites made money, but that is certainly not the case right now.

Even ignoring services on a higher price tier like Azure, it's tough trying the find the right balance between cost and convenience—I could easily have just paid the same company more money each month and avoided spending a weekend working on this stuff, but the difference would have come out to, say, $15 or $20 a month, and that can add up pretty quickly, especially given that I've been hosting these sites for more than a decade. ($20 monthly for a decade comes out to $2,400, if you're not in a mathy mood.) I'll definitely spend a weekend poking at things to save that much, especially if I can turn the experience into something mildly educational. It's a one-time time cost to avoid a monthly dollar cost.

I always have such a hard time putting a dollar value on my time. I've gotten a much better understanding since starting full-time work that my time is a precious, limited resource. When you're young, you have all the time in the world, and especially when you're poor, it's easy to trade time for money. Preciousness and scarcity of money is something that was drilled into my head constantly throughout my life, and now that my financial situation is very different from my family's when I was growing up, I often wonder if I'm making the "right" time and money tradeoffs. I try to strike a balance and use the lessons I learned in frugality while still spending and saving my money in a way that makes me happy.

No comments: