For those who missed it, Joe Stagner commented that www.asp.net costs millions of dollars to run. Since Joe was a little vague about exactly what that meant, I’m going to assume that he’s talking about straight-up yearly hosting costs (because it was in the context of hosting, and if that was a monthly cost it would be 12-times more incredible than the already incredible yearly cost). I find this either highly doubtful, or really worrisome.
So let’s look at what $83 000 a month of hosting gets you. Now, there are tens of thousands of possible hosting companies. My top picks would be Softlayer, Peer1, DataPipe or LiquiqWeb – all of which have the right blend of price and reliability (Softlayer and DataPipe are always on Netcraft’s list of most reliable hosting providers). We’re talking real quality hosting here. For about $350/month, I can get (more or less) the following server from any of these places:
- Quad Core Xeon 5335 Clovertown @ 2.00GHz
- 2GB of ram
- 2x250GB SATA RAID 1
- 2TB bandwidth
You’d likely want different servers for different roles – such as more RAM and SCSI drives on your database servers, but for simplicity sake, lets keep everything homogenized.
That $83 000 buys you roughly 240 such servers – fully managed. Am I the only one who thinks that’s a lot? Consider too that this is retail price, surely Microsoft, with such a large order, could get drastically lower prices (and the fact that they heavily promote their existing hosting company). Now, it’s possible that Joe was talking about more than just www.asp.net, and possibly all of the “Microsoft Community” sites (channel 9, IIS 7.0, silverlight.net…). That might make things slightly more reasonable. However, I remain both skeptical, and very curious about the details of this server farm. How many memcached servers are in play? Is database sharding used? Are lightweight HTTPd servers or CDN networks used for static content?
What worries me is that if it costs Microsoft millions of dollars to run its own community sites, with its bulk-purchasing power and free Microsoft licences what chance to the rest of us have? It suddenly becomes obvious why IIS has a lower market penetration amongst popular sites (19%) than its average market penetration (29%). Its also obvious why that market penetration has gone down over the past couple years.
Finally, I’m curious if they do any carbon offsetting. I doubt this setup is even close to achieving google’s amazing PUE of 1.13.