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First impressions on 1and1 Cloud

Here I am, I finally took the step: I’m getting ready to move to… a cloud. I used to be pretty reluctant to this technology, notably I thought this was too fashionable to be the real sh*t. You know, just a new trend, something shiny and useless. But another aspect had to be taken into consideration: the record-low price that comes with a cloud. Well, that cloud at least. The dedicated server where this site is still running as I’m writing those lines costs a bit more than 43€ per month, and that’s really a bargain price for an unmetered and decent (i.e. not a ridiculous Atom…) server. Well, using a tiny cloud costs less than 24€ per month. A 44% saving, at the price of a dispensable core and an unused 1 GiB of RAM (they could both be reactivated in a few clicks and probably a few seconds for an extra 12€ so it would still be cheaper).
So, the price was the main reason for this choice. And my main worry was about the performance of this thing, since I had no info about the CPU apart from its frequency (2 GHz) and brand (AMD).

What’s not so good

To begin with, the OS choice is a bit limited. Your only choice at the beginning is Linux or Windows (+12€/month extra). I chose Linux and found myself with CentOS 5 + Plesk (free too! But I want to keep my habits with free software so I switched). I launched a reinstallation and once again the OS choice was pretty limited: CentOS 5, openSUSE 11, Debian 5 or Ubuntu 10.04. My previous host had accustomed me to tons more. They also let me choose the partitioning scheme, unlike 1and1: at the moment I’m looking for the partition where the free space is (they gave 4GiB to /home, /root doesn’t seem large either… where the f- are the 100 GiB I rented? ). It’s possible to switch to Windows by going to the “client shop” (“boutique client”).
Another weak point is the account manager. I find it a bit confusing, and notably paid upgrades seem totally mixed up amongst free upgrades or already bought features. For instance, I thought renting a cloud entitled me to a free GeoTrust SSL certificate, I still haven’t been able to find it (but I found where to buy some!)… No big deal, but this gives you an idea of the mess. But I suppose you get used to it. The essential functions (hard reboot, server reinstall and such) are easy to find, that’s good enough I guess.
Finally, the ordering process has room for improvement. The first time you order, they send you an automated phone call to check your identity (they send you an e-mail with a 4-digit activation code, which you need to type when they call you). Well, that automated call took like a day to arrive… So, when you order the first time, make sure you’ll be able to be at your phone during the next 24 hours… (NB: they don’t accept mobile phones). Also, they save your credit card data (if you choose this as payment method). I don’t really like that, plus it’s a bit Amazon-ish, if you ask me.

What’s good, now

Ok, the OS choice is limited. But the upside with that is that the OSes they offer seem to really work fine. My previous host provided tons of OSes, with the lastest versions available very quickly, but I often faced some problems with them, like apt-get tending to freeze in Ubuntu 10.10 x64. Here is the exact list of currently available Linux distributions (straight from my control panel ;)):

CentOS 5 with Parallels SB Panel 10 (64 bits)
CentOS 5 with Parallels Plesk Panel 10 (64 bits)
CentOS 5 with Parallels Plesk Panel 9.5 (64 bits)
openSUSE 11 with Parallels Plesk Panel 9.5 (32 bits)
openSUSE 11 with Parallels Plesk Panel 9.5 (64 bits)
openSUSE 11 with Parallels SB Panel 10 (64 bits)
CentOS 5 (32 bits)
CentOS 5 (64 bits)
Debian 5 Lenny (32 bits)
Debian 5 Lenny (64 bits)
openSUSE 11.3 (32 bits)
openSUSE 11.3 (64 bits)
ubuntu 10.04 (32 bits)
ubuntu 10.04 (64 bits)
ubuntu 8.04 (64 bits)

Also, the OS reinstallation is (very) fast. Sure it lacks some kind of progress-o-meter, but it took roughly 15 minutes to install Ubuntu 10.04 over CentOS 5.
Performances are good. I guess this may vary, but my CPU is an Opteron 2423 HE. More than decent. Here is the cat /proc/cpuinfo:

processor       : 0
vendor_id       : AuthenticAMD
cpu family      : 16
model           : 8
model name      : Six-Core AMD Opteron(tm) Processor 2423 HE
stepping        : 0
cpu MHz         : 2009.260
cache size      : 512 KB
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 5
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu de tsc msr pae cx8 cmov pat clflush mmx fxsr sse sse2 ht
syscall nx mmxext fxsr_opt 3dnowext 3dnow constant_tsc up nonstop_tsc pni popcnt
hypervisor cmp_legacy extapic cr8_legacy abm sse4a misalignsse 3dnowprefetch
bogomips        : 4018.52
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 48 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management: ts ttp tm stc 100mhzsteps hwpstate

The system reboot is very fast: less than 30 seconds. That’s much faster than what I got on my previous dedicated servers.

Conclusion: although customer information is globally a big mess, this thing seems to have an unbeatable perf/price ratio. At 24€ + 23€ activation fee if you don’t want the 12 months engagement, it’s worth a try if this is the kind of performance you’re looking for. Note that I’m writing about 1and1.fr, which notably features an unmetered 100Mbps bandwidth. I checked the offers on 1and1.com and they seem much less desirable (higher prices, metered traffic). Yet, apart from the price the rest (CPU, OSes, account manager…) should be the same.

Edit: I just discovered that changing the hardware configuration of the cloud is a bit more expensive than upgrading it from the beginning. For instance, one extra GiB of RAM costs 5€ HT (HT=excluding VAT) if bought during the initial order but 5.98€ HT if bought as an upgrade. It’s a 19.6% price increase… this looks as if they applied the VAT twice… weird.

Re-edit (1st Jan 2011): the supposedly included FTP backup space doesn’t seem to be actually provided freely but is available as an “upgrade” at a crazy price of around 30€ a month… I contacted tech support who said they’d fix it, but this was like 4 days ago and I still got nothing.

Edit again: the follow-up is at Second impressions on 1and1

Posted in servers.


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