Maciej Cegłowski, founder of Pinboard, on the search for a dedicated web host:
Can you email our sales rep with your needs and your budget?
No. It’s 2011 and this stuff is a fungible commodity. If I give you a specific server configuration, you can give me a price. If you’re offering dedicated servers for rent but force me talk to a sales agent to find out the price, then I know you’ve just padded my rent with the cost of that person’s salary.
I’ve done this search enough times over the last decade that I laughed with him at every sentence.
For whatever it’s worth, I’m at SoftLayer (I was at ThePlanet, but they merged with and dissolved into SoftLayer) and I’m pretty happy with them, with 5 servers there running Instapaper. I also had a lot of experience with ThePlanet before the merger since all of Tumblr’s servers (over 100) were hosted there.
Not everything’s perfect at SoftLayer, and their RAM pricing will make you feel completely ripped off.1 But you can price everything out on the website, they have tons of hardware and configuration options, they always get Intel’s new CPUs quickly (and their CPU pricing is actually very competitive), their connectivity doesn’t seem to be any less reliable than any other good host, and their server provisioning (and cancellation) is automatic and hassle-free.
Last night, I canceled a server and ordered (and received) its replacement without calling anyone or making any tickets. The replacement, with a non-stock hardware configuration, was deployed and ready to use about 2 hours after I ordered it, even though I ordered it at 10 PM. It was also preconfigured with privatenet connectivity to my other servers.
In the world of dedicated hosting, this process is pretty great.
So I like them. But in Maciej’s case, looking for servers with 32+ GB of RAM, SoftLayer definitely isn’t competitive most of the time.
Even with their usual “TRIPLE” discount code, which doubles the RAM for free — always check the Specials page before ordering and you’ll almost never need to pay list price for RAM. TRIPLE makes their RAM pricing reasonable, but still not competitive with the high-RAM configurations at many cheaper hosts.
Oh, and if you’re using TRIPLE and it has an exclusion that gets in your way, like not applying to SSDs or servers in a certain datacenter, try it anyway — those exclusions often aren’t enforced. ↩︎