I listened to Michael Arrington’s podcast interview of the guys behind Media Temple last night and their new shared hosting product piqued my interest. If it fulfills even just 80 percent of what the guys behind the service promised then it will be a phenomenal development in the web service industry.
The new product, the Grid-Server, turns the shared hosting services on its head and the Media Temple guys are so gung-ho over the service its chief executive officer said during the interview they’d soon have a 101 percent uptime guarantee where they’d actually pay customers, on top of not charging them for the entire duration of the outage, when they experience a downtime.
The Grid-Server has a different architecture than most current shared hosting plans.
If you have a shared hosting, you’d typically be assigned into one server with a host of other shared hosting customers. If one of the websites in your shared server experiences a massive traffic spike or processor load then your site will also be affected.
In the Grid-Server architecture, your site is being run not by one server but by hundreds of them, all the servers that are part of the Media Temple grid. The Media Temple guys said the capacity of the servers is more than enough to handle the needs of its customers and if they see that the system is starting to get strained, they can just add more servers and the load is balanced among the new nodes.
When you sign up for a Grid-Server account, you are allocated “a large number” of grid performance units or GPUs, which measure processor time, disk input/output and database queries. Media Temple said the “vast majority of clients will never even come close to using all the GPUs included with their service” but if you do exceed the allocation, you can get more GPUs for an additional cost.
The Media Temple guys also said in the interview that they have separate processors to take care of the back up system so that the websites of their clients won’t get slowed down whenever the system backs up files.
The Grid-System looks to be an attractive deal if you run relatively high-traffic websites or blogs. It costs $20 a month and for it you get 100 gigabytes of storage, one terabyte of “short-path bandwidth,” PHP 4 and 5 with MySQL and PostgreSQL and a web control panel to manage your account. It also comes with one-click installs for WordPress, Drupal and several other website scripts.
If you’re already paying at the $20 level for your shared hosting, the Grid-System should be an option you should look into. I’m placing it in the someday/maybe section of my to-do lists as it certainly is a very attractive option should I need to upgrade my web hosting account yet again.
But if you’re just starting out with your blog, you’re better off with smaller and cheaper plans and upgrade as you start building traffic. It’s useless (and expensive) to be paying for a terabyte of bandwidth when you’ll just be using up less than a tenth of that in your first few months.
For more on how to evaluate web hosts, you might want to read my previous post: “Don’t just take their word for it, go web host shopping, here’s how to do it“