On Bills And New Matilda

June 2, 2010

Just doing my monthly rec for The Inquisitr in costs, and discover that our full hosting bill (including host, third party storage and CDN) should come in at about US$220 this month.

That’s with 331gb through Amazon Cloudfront (I also use S3 for storage, a different service, doesn’t cost much at all for storage so not counted here), 33gb through Limelight Networks (I mention both names because they are both considered worlds best) and 120gb of bandwith through Rackspace (again considered to be a top tier host.)

People want to argue about the economics of journalism in the case of New Matilda: fine. But you know I’m right when I say New Matilda blaming increased hosting costs as one of their reasons for shutting either indicates a falsehood, or what I suspect is the case: they were doing it wrong.

I’m far, far from an expert in hosting: our last bill before leaving MediaTemple last year was something over US$1k for example (on one third of the traffic), and keeping the bloody thing up was an ongoing nightmare. But I’ve found that you can always cut hosting costs if you look around and do your homework properly, and I’d note most importantly: you don’t have to sacrifice quality either. In fact, we’ve got far better quality hosting then we ever have had. We’ve had few to no problems with our current setup, and the use of CDN’s has increased site loading times significantly.

My guess is New Matilda didn’t have a CDN and were probably using a local host who was charging them an arm and a leg.

Edit: just changed the reference to S3. I use both Cloudfront and S3. The bill comes from Cloudfront. S3 was like $3 this month.

7 responses to On Bills And New Matilda

  1. new matilda were using Softlayer in the US as a hosting provider, but it seems this was being managed locally via a third party. Not 100% sure of the third party arrangement, but it seems to be a VIC based agency.

    Having said that, SoftLayer are considered at the top of the game when it comes to hosting yet still reasonably inexpensive compared to others in the market. I think where new matilda would have had issues is with the possible outsourced management of their hosting and a lack of understanding of what is actually involved and how it is best achieved.

    Outsourcing and managed hosting is great, if you understand what it is you are actually outsourcing and why. Regularly re-examining your requirements and adjusting to take advantages of new technologies and services as well as being proactive in regards to managing the outsourcing relationship are key items many fail to consider.

  2. I do know Softlayer, good company well regarded. My guess is though that New Matilda were on a box or two vs Softlayer's cloud hosting. Softlayer isn't the cheapest there, but the Cloudhosting isn't bad.

    The third party thing is interesting though: I'm betting a serious markup. And then if they were on a box, you've got ongoing maintenance, and the bills would stack up where as what I love about Rackspace Cloud is I don't have to worry about the server at all, only that WP is up-to-date, and I run a 2 minute daily maintenance on the database (which I could teach my 7 yr old to do.)

    You can get to a point where the maintenance is minimal, and I guess that's where the difference is between journalists running a site and non-journalists. I'm not qualified in Information Systems (my degree was marketing/ecommerce) but I've been fortunate enough to learn through experience over the years to at least get by.

    Maybe the lesson is that these sort of enterprises need at least one geek on board who understands the tech enough and isn't trying to milk the next dollar 🙂

  3. I presume The Inquisitr is on Rackspace Cloud Servers (and using Cloud Files which is backed by LLN). How many servers and what kind of size?

    Indeed there's a lot of savings from web hosting. For a Internet based publishing business the hosting cost should really be tiny comparing to the big scheme of things. But then again the most you can save is $220 USD, i.e. reducing the cost to $0. I am sure New Matilda's cost is somewhere else other than hosting…

  4. Hey Duncan,

    I don't recall ever blaming increased hosting costs for NM's demise…? When I said our costs were going up as we became more popular I meant: because more professional writers were wanting to write for us, meaning an increased contributor budget.

    Of course the majority of NM's running costs are the wages for 4.5 staff. I don't think you have to be a genius to work that out!


  5. Hi Duncan,

    Try asking why you have to pay for bandwidth at all? Content providers pay at one end, and consumers pay at the other, telcos peer with each other in the core and settle costs at the the entry and exit points. It should really only be at the exit point for data where any payment is made. Anyway, just my thoughts)

  6. What would be the difference in using Matilda? Like if we are going to be on a verge of having our cost be lower that the usual scope of work.

    Stanley Lee from Aspirateur automatique 

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