Ubuntu Dedicated Servers and Server Administrators December 25, 2006Posted by Carthik in servers, ubuntu, Ubuntu Sites.
Oh behalf of a client, I have been looking for Ubuntu Dedicated Servers, as well people in the know who can administer the server. Starting with WebHostingTalk my search so far has been more or less futile. How hard can it be to find a good dedicated server, or for that matter an administrator for a server you ask? Real hard.
Let me define a “good” service provider:
With servers more than anything else, the added benefits are the biggest variable, and the one that will have the most long-term impact on the person who buys the server. There are several hosts (not Ubuntu hosts) that provide, for example, Cisco’s hardened external firewall, and some provide a serial console, some provide DDoS protection. These are often overlooked by someone who jumps in for a server. The other big differentiator between the good and the not-so-good is the quality of the hardware and the extent to which the offered services are backed by the provider and this is something that you learn over a period of months, if not years.
Now, to define a “good” administrator:
There are those that setup and adminster servers for a living, those who know the ins and out of managing servers. Such individuals(not corporations) are the best source for reliable information regarding servers, their security and their upkeep. If you have tried getting your hands on some of these individuals you know how hard they are to find. People for whom such service is a pleasure, and who are not in it only for the money – for whom such services are not the be-all and end-all, but a natural extension of their acquired skills.
Ubuntu’s Market Presence
Now when it comes to gaining a strong foothold in the server market, Ubuntu needs to work on visibility, and needs to make sure that those who want to try it have access to resources that point out the options available. Here’s where Ubuntu falls short currently. For Debian, there is a list of dedicated server providers. Though there is no guarantee as to the level of service provided by these hosts, there is a list, which is the least there should be. I wish there would a similar initiative from Ubuntu’s part. Also, for Debian, there is a huge list of Consultants from which you can pick and choose an administrator or manager for your server. Again, though there is a list of Ubuntu Partners, not many of these are individuals of the kind I mentioned before. I wish it was easier to find an Ubuntu developer(not necessarily someone with “main” commit privileges), who will do maintenance work for me. But this post is not just about me – it is about Ubuntu gaining a foothold in the server market, and for that Canonical needs to seriously think about constructing easily managed lists of both server-providers and service-providers, if I may call them that. Such information has to be available for various levels of prospective clients – the huge 1000+ employee corporate clients as well as small-business entities and enterprising novice individuals.
You might state the case for a community wiki-based effort to build a catalog of information. This would be a good first step, but what is essential is for the company that promotes Ubuntu (Canonical) to put the word out. This can inspire a lot of confidence in someone who is as yet undecided about going the Ubuntu way. Though there is evidence of Canonical’s interest in providing such info, the support page seems inapplicable for a person like me – I’d rather work in association with a good individual. A not-so-obvious reason for this is the fact that if I pay an individual for working on my Ubuntu server, then I am providing an incentive for the person to keep working on Ubuntu, without his/her having to “officially” work for a company that supports Ubuntu. I would think that a page at the Ubuntu wiki with a list of dedicated providers, and another page of Ubuntu developers with the services they are willing to offer would be an awesome way to start things off.
Finding a good Redhat, or Fedora dedicated server is easy, at various price-points. You can easily find servers for $100, and a reputed admin for $30 per month. I’ll be happy the day it is just as easy to find resources for Ubuntu servers. It is not that no one offers Ubuntu servers, search and you shall find some, but the important question is which of these are lemons?
I am sorry for the rant, if this looks like one. A day of flailing about on the internet looking for a good solution to a temporary problem gave rise to these thoughts. Please take this with a pinch of salt, for I might be over-reacting :)