GoDaddy Instant DataCenter vs. Rackspace Cloud Servers

10/09/2012 Update

We have written in the past about Rackspace Cloud servers, and the fact that our site is actually built on these servers.  As traffic increases and decreases, we can quickly scale up and down our servers to accommodate spikes, and remove cost during slow periods.

Recently, GoDaddy introduced their answer to Rackspace’s cloud servers – GoDaddy Instant DataCenter.

We haven’t had much time with GoDaddy’s product, but wanted to provide some initial thoughts on the two products since there doesn’t seem to be much discussion on the products yet.

First, the areas where GoDaddy wins out over Rackspace:

  • Price – as usual, GoDaddy undercuts the competition by a significant margin.  Three 1GB servers with 100GB outbound transfer will run you $120/month (cheaper if you signup for a longer term).  Comparable servers on Rackspace would cost $150/month.
  • Ease of setup – we called GoDaddy support and had a running server within 2 hours.  Setup time was comparable on Rackspace.  However, GoDaddy provided a stock LAMP Ubuntu server, something that saves just a little time, but is helpful nonetheless for quick proof-of-concepts.
  • Easy firewall – GoDaddy provides a firewall in front of your entire network, so you can use their interface to open ports and establish load balancers.  Rackspace doesn’t let you off quite this easy and requires modifications on each server.
  • Simple load balancer – in the control panel, you tell GoDaddy which port and IP should be load balanced, and also provide target machines – all in a web interface.  Nothing’s easier, and this layer is free.  I would like more details about the load balancer, however.  I am assuming that it is a high availability load balancer with many nodes at the entrance of the network.  You know what they say about assuming, though.

Rackspace has quite a few things going for them, however:

  • API Control – Scripts can easily control your cloud server settings – everything from creating a new server instance to increasing the RAM on a server.  This allows you unparalleled flexibility, and is not, as of yet, available on the GoDaddy Instant DataCenter product.
  • Reputation – A huge plus for Rackspace here.  I don’t know anyone who can say “I’m really embarrassed that I buy products from Rackspace.”  However, the same cannot be said for GoDaddy.  From their icky advertising to their CEO’s elephant killing video, the company is a little sketchy.  Every SuperBowl, I hang my head in shame when their commercial comes on.
  • Documentation – Rackspace wins by a mile with best practices for setting up the servers and step-by-step instructions for performing almost any task that you will need to do.  It’s still early in GoDaddy’s product, but even for their older products, GoDaddy lacks solid documentation and a strong community.
  • Easy CDN Integration – Content delivery network is provided in the control panel to allow quick offloading of resources.
The verdict: mixed.  If you’re just trying things out, you might want to give GoDaddy a try since they seem to be the cheapest option for 1GB servers.  However, Rackspace allows you to start at 256MB, so their cheapest option is also a good starting point.  If you require a more complex setup, I would definitely go with Rackspace due to their flexibility and API integration.
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Steven Michaels

Steven Michaels specializes in PHP web applications utilizing MediaWiki, WordPress, Yii Framework and others. He is an open source contributor and leads development for both of Hollow Developers' internal projects, HollowGame and SpeechEase.

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