In February 2013 Amy Hoy has shut down "Charm" - her web-based help desk app. The primary reason for the shutdown was high availability requirement (since downtime is not an option for a helpdesk app) and the product becoming too demanding in terms of server architecture and monthly bills. To sum up - it stopped being fun and became an engineering PITA.
But wait, "monthly bills"? I'm sure they were using mostly open-source stuff. They don't need some stupid Windows licenses or a Microsoft SQL Server right? So I assume, the majority of their bills was coming from bandwidth and the servers. The Linux servers. How much could that be?
Turns out their server bills were close to a whooping $4,000 a month.
Unlike the cool startup kids building stuff with "Socket.io on top of Node.js with MongoDB and a Rails layer", our startup is mostly Microsoft-based. To be honest, I do regret that sometimes... I wish I was a cool kid too - hacking stuff in XCode, doing Rails development... In fact, we do try all these tools for our experimental projects. But when it comes to a commercial product - after hours of fighting discussing all the pros and cons we keep choosing Microsoft. Over and over.
I know. "Meh". We're dull. Microsoft. This is so 90s. But...
You heard me. One server is all we need. "The stuff" includes:
All this stuff fits on one server. That costs us about $200 a month. By the way, that's Amazon - with it's pricey traffic, storage charges and ridiculously slow hard drives. A "traditional" VPS would cost about $90/mo and would probably run twice as fast. Again - one small server with 8 gigs of RAM powers up my whole company *.
But most importantly, because the customer doesn't give a shit. My clients don't care what I'm based on as long as it works. So when choosing a platform for your great idea - just go with whatever platform you're comfortable with and start hacking, stop wasting time.
The only thing I dislike about Microsoft recently - is their CEO is that MS keeps shooting itself in the foot (things like Windows 8... oh, don't make me go there). Let's just hope it won't shoot itself in the head one day.
*To be honest, we have switched to a 2-server configuration about a week ago, but only because it's easier to back things up and perform the "2008-to-2012" Windows migration, but the above config was running literally for years. Also, we do have a tiny Linux instance that schedules Amazon backups via the API.
P.S. Aka "what if your server goes down"
That's the reason we use Amazon. We have hourly backups, daily snapshots and everything else needed to spawn a clone-server in 5 minutes.
MS is no better than Linux, just like Linux is no better than MS... Is was not my intention to start a holy war in the comments. All I'm saying is that MS is a viable option for startups, just like open-source platforms. Both MS/Linux are just tools, pick one that works for you, that's it.
by Alex. CEO, founder