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Cloud Hosting for the Long Now

written by John January 26, 02014

clouds

Last year I went searching for a new web hosting provider. My criteria was very specific and in fact I only found one company in a position to fulfil it all — they turned out to be a cloud services startup based in Iceland. They are called GreenQloud and I like them a lot. They’re smart, green and disruptive; all good things in my experience. Here are a few of the reasons I chose them.

1. Flexible Technology

If my records prove correct then the last time I went searching for a new web host was in March of 2001. Back then you could do pretty much anything you wanted with just some shared space on an Apache web server. Thirteen years on, this is no longer true.

Virtualisation has matured, and given rise to modern cloud platforms like Heroku and Amazon Web Services. With these technologies you spin up a virtual server when you need it, with any OS you care to deploy, then scale and balance those servers automatically. That’s modern flexibility.

GreenQloud offer two services: StorageQloud and ComputeQloud. These are essentially clones of the popular Amazon Web Services S3 and EC2 respectively. And when I say “clones” I mean it, the APIs are identical. Behind the scenes GreenQloud are running KVM and the open source Apache CloudStack to which their engineers contributed the aforementioned AWS compatibility. Bonus points for that.

2. Privacy and Security

There’s a lot I could say about security and privacy. It was the single most important story of 02013. But let’s for now just agree they go hand in hand. If you want privacy then you need security.

The good news is the crypto works, so let’s forget technology for a moment and consider the politics. Why would I host my data in a territory that actively undermines my privacy? My feeling is the long tail of the privacy revelations will be economic. Iceland takes my personal privacy seriously so they get my business.

3. Sustainable Infrastructure

The server farms behind cloud computing require a great deal of power. Generating that power cleanly whilst satisfying demand is a problem for many providers. Project that demand into the future and you quickly realise that a lot of providers cannot meet demand, never mind meet demand with clean energy. Greenqloud is fortunate in that it can draw power from Iceland’s geothermal power grid. This allows them to offer a sustainable and 100% carbon-neutral hosting service that is in tune with the principles of Long Now.

..let us be humble in our victories, focus on execution and win with sustainability in the market…

4. Geographical Location

Iceland is ideally located to serve data to both the US and Europe. Politically it is strong on privacy and they actively support their startup culture.  And finally, as a time-geek I greatly appreciate that both the UK and Iceland share the UTC+00:00 Western European timezone.

GreenQloud logo

If I’m honest, moving from Managed Web Hosting to Cloud Hosting hasn’t been straightforward. You’re exposed to more of the stack so you have to understand and manage it. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had from that but it takes time to build the knowledge. I’ve taken copious notes along the way and in the coming weeks I hope to turn those into a series of articles to help others make the move from web hosting to cloud hosting.

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