Web Hosting and Power, Resource Issues - Is Overselling a Solution?
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Another way of possibly delaying the inevitable is to oversell, as many web hosts do. When a web host oversells a particular server, he puts more accounts on that server than it can technically support. Like the energy crisis in data centers, itís a matter of math. Just to pull numbers out of a hat, letís say that you have an account that provides your customers with 10 MB of disk space and 25 GB of data transfer. Your server can support 100 MB of disk space and 250 GB of data transfer. That means, in theory, it can support 10 accounts. You figure your customers arenít going to use all that space, so you put 15 accounts on that server.
Thatís overselling, and itís fine Ė as long as your customers donít use up all of the resources they have been allocated. Many, perhaps even most, hobby web sites wonít have a problem. But a lot of web sites offer downloads now, and that can eat up a massive amount of both disk space and data transfer.
If one of your customers has a 1 MB PDF file that visitors can download from his or her site, with your current account set up the customer will expect that it can be downloaded 25,000 times in a month, not counting the HTML to help visitors download it in the first place. Thatís not badÖunless the PDF goes viral.
And thatís just for PDF files. Music files take up more space, and video files take up even more space than music files. One MB represents only seconds of video information. If you have a fanatical hobbyist who has put together a very nice half-hour video showing how to do something, it could easily be more than 200 MB in size. Suddenly that 25 GB that looked so big before means that only 125 visitors can view the video in a month. And what happens if the person does a whole series of videos? Before you scoff at this, consider that many podcasters have long-running shows and like to keep all of their podcasts available on their site for their fans. For example, Mitch Keeler does a regular podcast on web hosting that already runs to 118 episodes and counting.
Overselling is only a solution if you know your customersí needs very well and are willing to commit to having the resources available to your customers if and when they need them. This involves calculating the amount of money you will need to get those resources and setting it aside for that purpose. As Paul Hirsch explained in a blog post for Web Host Industry News, ďSo, if youíre willing to finance up to 1 Tb. of additional data transfer or perhaps a dedicated pipe, thatís how much you oversellÖThis is a very small-scale example, but the same principle applies whether you have one server or 1,000 in a cluster.Ē In this way, youíre overselling without over promising.
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