ArubaCloud is not as bad as I expected: A contender to the “one dollar wonder”?

I’m astonished that my first experience with ArubaCloud is not as bad as I initially expected. It’s not how I expected to open this post tonight and it’s certainly something that I’ll be giving a real test throughout the year because when you offer $1 Virtual Private Servers you can’t help but wonder how they stay in the business while providing such a cheap service.

Let me start by saying that this is not a VPS review, but hopefully a journey that will lead me to do a full review in a near future. ArubaCloud simply put is one of those services that makes you scratch you head and wonder if it’ll be okay to leave your site/blog/forums in the hands of a $1 dollar service.

What can I expect from a $1 VPS service? I have no idea. But I can tell you what I don’t expect from a $1 VPS:

  • Network stability
  • Good uptime
  • Support (come on, let’s be realistic here and say that support was never thought of for this type of service)

ArubaCloud has a lot of things that it got right: The separation concerns between billing and managing your cloud are split in two different areas. Billing takes care of charging for the service and the control panel manages all things with the service. At first sight it may not look like the most user friendly experience but having that peace of mind that I can have two different passwords for billing and managing my cloud is not that bad in my book. Of course, this is incredibly debatable and I’m sure there are people out there that don’t want it like this.

ArubaCloud control panel is the heart of all things related to the cloud. The server creation process is straightforward but the user interface leaves much to be desired of and while that’s the case I was still able to get everything up and running in exactly:

Exactly one eternity later. The problem with ArubaCloud is that it’s under so much demand that it took around 6 hours to get my server through whatever queue they have. Before I even had access to the control panel I had to wait 24 hours to get my ArubaCloud account fully activated because it’s, and this is conjecture here, manually activated.

Another bad thing is that their ticket system is quite literally broken. I could never open a new support request. On a similar note, I don’t think I would blame any poor soul there trashing the ticket system so it doesn’t work because the high amount of support tickets for a $1 VPS must be too damn high.

I researched about ArubaCloud a bit before diving in. Yes, I was doing a full checkup on it because I’ll be using it in production for the hostname https://storage.thehumble.ninja/ and as the name states it’s mainly used for storage at the moment.

Now for the intriguing part is that, and please bear with me here because I will probably be called out for this and it’s only expected. Whether I hit the cluster bingo or not I can safely say I’ve had a better experience on this $1 VPS than on Vultr, Digital Ocean, and Namecheap (VPS, and shockingly it’s faster than the VPS Namecheap provided me). Usually my experience with the services I mentioned above is that they have something in common, a common that should also affect ArubaCloud but strangely doesn’t. They are under high demand. I’ve yet to replicate the same performance I get from Azure in DO, Vultr, Namecheap. I do not know why but Azure and now ArubaCloud performs better for me than any of the services I mentioned. Whenever I used SSH on DO, Vultr, Namecheap it always lagged out and took a while to send/render what I typed, not only that the time taken to render PHP pages was just longer.

It’s all highly dependent on so many factors that I know I’ll be called out for the simply reason that not everyone is experiencing the same. It could be a networking, hardware, availability of the CPU/Disk to process my requests to it (which is also part of hardware). With Azure I feel like I have a local server at home because of how simply responsive it is and with ArubaCloud I feel the same as well.

After my server was set up I upgraded the server to the latest Ubuntu Server LTS (18.04). I enhanced security the best I could and enabled UFW after setting up all the rules because I don’t like leaving ports opened to the public. Then I did a speedtest and to my surprise it wasn’t that bad:

In conclusion: It’s one dollar. I don’t expect much from a dollar and you can only stretch it so much to the point that you get a VPS out of it, quite elastic if you ask me.

In all seriousness. Give ArubaCloud a try. I am in no way related to them, but I thought that if you are someone with a site that currently can’t spend on a premium service like Vultr, DO, Linode, and the whole known gang of cloud hosting then honestly you don’t have much to lose at all.

TheHumble.ninja now with SSL

I’ve made some changes to thehumble.ninja as I plan to restructure to site and start purging content here and there. There’s an article I’ve been wanting to write about and it’s about saving costs with Azure, the cons and pro of using cloud services, and how scary it can get if you decide to use cloud services like Azure, Google Cloud, etc.

With that in mind I’d like to emphasize that I do like Microsoft Azure and would love to use it without the constant fear of overage charges, but that’s another subject that won’t be discussed here at all. Now, going back to Azure I’ve read two articles from Scott Hanselman where he goes over demonstrating how to use Azure and deploy cheap containers.

In an ideal world, I would have supported every word he said. Using containers is amazing, wonderful, and just plainly awesome. It gives you that control of isolating services (mysql, httpd, mail, etc) into separate containers and you can cram as many, MANY, applications in your app service plan.

But I can’t simply support it and it’s honestly for a very silly yet incredibly harmful reason that I can’t agree that Azure is cheap. It’s harmful for anyone that wants to run a personal project, site. If you have disposable cash and have never in your life budgeted for a single thing then Azure is for you.

Bandwidth is my biggest concern. Not just for Azure, but for any cloud service. I think Azure VMs are decently priced and competitive, heck I even thought of paying a reserved instance myself for this site (well, many sites hosted in it). As of today, 1TB is $88.65 USD. If that’s not expensive for you then sir, by all means go for Azure as I won’t stop you. But an average joe with an average job like me who just wants to write, and deploy personal projects to the web? 88 bucks is too much + all calculated prices on top of it.

My suggestion to Azure team? Include bandwidth packages in App Service Plans, offer reserved instances to containers/app service plan and I’ll be more than happy to subscribe for the years to come (as long as the prices are reasonable). And it doesn’t have to be 1TB exactly. I think we all need that safety net most service providers offer with VPS and we don’t have that in Azure.

Why? Imagine an scenario that an individual is targeted. See, if the person gets DDoSed Azure has basic protection and I’m sure it can withstand any attack. More so if you have Cloudflare as your front and you keep a good chunk of malicious individuals out. But, hey, the malicious individual just found out that for some reason you are using cloud services to host your site and decide to download 1 million time a 100 megabytes zip archive you offer. That’s 100 TB bandwidth down the drain alone, and I doubt that Azure will throw the towel and say “it’s ok we understand you were targeted and attacked. So we will invalidate the bandwidth usage”.

And maybe my example is overly exaggerated, but my point is even if you aren’t attacked, and you have a medium sized site with 1TB bandwidth usage I highly doubt anyone would pay $88.65 when Digital Ocean, OVH, even Amazon with Lightsail gives you that bandwidth cap at a lesser monthly price. I get it. They are overselling bandwidth. Any service provider will probably monitor your VM and try to assess if it’s getting abused or that’s just the normal bandwidth usage of the server. If it is? Great, carry on, there’s no abuse involved. Most service providers won’t care in the long run because they have so many customers that use at the very least 3-4GB of bandwidth and it’s expected they will never reach 400GB bandwidth as it’s just a bunch of personal sites, etc. Now, if all their customers used 1TB exactly I guess they’d be running at a deficit. I honestly don’t know much of the deals involved with data centers and network usage and there are better people specialized in this sort of stuff than me.

In conclusion, because I never meant to write a post this long. As you can see, I want to use Azure, but Azure is a big threat to my wallet when it comes to bandwidth. Do keep in mind that my thoughts on Azure are going to be a larger post than this, but this is one of the issues that I really needed to throw out there to the public.

As for the site. It’s temporarily hosted in a Azure instance until I decide whether to stay or not. I highly doubt I would stay considering the bandwidth concern. I don’t use much bandwidth but I know sometimes it’s a good 10GB that is used, that doesn’t eliminate the concern though.

 

Site updates

A few weeks ago I wrote about completely stopping creating content for thehumble.ninja. I realized that I wanted to keep creating content and be more active in different communities, share what I have discovered and enjoy doing the process of content creation.

This site will stop being about my life, programming, and career related stuff. The content I mentioned just now will be moved to a different domain while I repurpose thehumble.ninja to focus on different entertainment mediums: anime, manga, games (and keep alive linux gaming), and tv series. Part of me already think it’s a good idea to keep two different things completely separated and at the same time I wonder if it would lean itself to be more of a “reactionary” type of content where I react to things and they come. I’m sure I’ll come up with a way to even the process.

How often the site will be updated will solely depend on my free time. I’m not getting any younger, my life priorities have changed completely. I’ve had to leave communities and other things to achieve (usually) a short term goal or just move on with everything else going. What I’m trying to say is that while I’m happy I’m doing this I’d also like to focus on other aspects in my life like losing weight, traveling to other countries and well, see other things.