classiccmp.org operational costs?

Jay West jwest at classiccmp.org
Wed Mar 14 13:13:00 CDT 2007


Jules wrote....
> Out of curiosity (and to the list in case others are interested), do you 
> have an estimate for the yearly cost of providing classiccmp.org and all 
> the services it provides?
No, actually I don't :)

> I gather you've got the ISP already, so presumably the infrastructure 
> doesn't come into it - and likely the same with things like backup 
> hardware (but not media) etc. as they'll already be in place for other 
> non-classiccmp services.
All correct.

> I think what I'm asking is, how much of "your" money do you put into it 
> per year in order to provide the mailing list, hosting for those of us who 
> have data on the classiccmp server(s) etc.?
Time: I put in a lot, the moderators (to whom you can credit cctech still 
existing) put in a lot, and the web developer for the new classiccmp.org 
website has been putting in tons of work. The development website really 
looks awesome. Hopefully I can share the url with the public before too long 
:) But I think all of us consider it a labor of love and this doesn't count 
as a "cost".

Hardware: Currently the Classiccmp.org server is a single 1U box sitting in 
our racks. Intel Celeron 2ghz, 1gb ram, 3ware/escalade raid 0/1 controller, 
and two PATA 160gb drives mirrored (160gb usable). FreeBSD, apache2, mysql, 
htdig, mailman, mod_watch, perl5, php4, phpmyadmin, and proftpd to name the 
major packages loaded. The main functions of the server are the mailing 
list, the classiccmp website, and all the classic computer related websites 
that I offer to host for free. I don't view this as a "cost" either, because 
whenever the hardware needs an upgrade I post it to the list and people 
donate (usually via paypal, sometimes via check) to cover the cost of the 
hardware upgrades. I think the last upgrade I put in a chunk of my own cash 
but I honestly don't recall for sure, that part is not something I feel the 
need to track in any case. Speaking of which... the time is rapidly 
approaching where something needs to be done about upgrading the box. The 
real problem is just disk space is getting quite tight. One could argue that 
all we need to do is replace the two drives with big ones (terabyte each 
maybe, or 1/2 terabyte each). That may be the route to go. But there's 
another possibility I was thinking too that sets off a cascade of upgrade 
requirements. It'd be nice if the OS was mirrored and on two totally 
separate drives from the data (which would need to be raid5). The whole 
reason for this is so that in the future we could easily add more space 
WITHOUT taking up a ton of my time to reinstall the OS too. If the OS was 
mirrored for protection and independent of the raid set for drives, we could 
just add more drives when needs dictate and it would be a trivial thing with 
little or no downtime. The problem is, the current 1U case won't hold more 
than 2 drives total. So going this route would mean replacing the case AND 
the raid controller (the two most expensive parts). Perhaps a 2U case that 
has six exposed hot swap drives. The current raid controller only supports 2 
drives, and only raid 0 or raid 1. If I had my druthers I'd prefer off the 
shelf generic parts rather than a fully integrated (but proprietary) box 
like a dell. I like being able to use replacement parts in an emergency that 
I already have on hand. But, I didn't mean to broach this topic here, that's 
for discussion another day.

Bandwidth: HERE is the spot where money actually leaves my pocket - sort of. 
The classiccmp.org server actually uses a pretty substantial amount of 
bandwidth for a single webserver/mailinglist machine (more than many of my 
commercial service webservers). Bitsavers accounts for a chunk, but so do 
some of the other sites on it (some sometimes more than bitsavers) like 
transputer, calcmuseum, rainbow, trs80, cpm, dunfield, tellason, acornia, 
swtpc.com, retroarchive.org, wang220, sol20, etc. Many of these sites are 
similar to bitsavers in that not only do they have html content, they also 
have substantial documentation sections of manuals, pdf's, disk images, etc. 
In addition to end-user bitsaver file downloads, all the other bitsavers 
repositories are mirrors from the one on classiccmp. I'm not complaining at 
all folks, just stating the usage. Here's a datapoint for you.... last night 
bitsavers.org hit 80mbps (80 megaBITS per second). That's unusual though. I 
would say classiccmp as a whole tends to sit between 5mbps and 12mbps on 
average. 10mbps of symetric bandwidth is not cheap! Do not confuse this with 
10mbps of asymetric bandwidth like you get on a home cable or DSL connection 
for $50/month. As soon as you start talking symetric bandwidth (as an 
ISP/webhosting/colocation company I have to have symetric bandwidth), you 
are talking real money (easily a factor of 10 times more expensive). So if I 
already have lots of bandwidth here, how does classiccmp cost anything... 
well, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. My bandwidth costs are not 
pure metered. I pay for a set amount. There's a fairly significant cushion 
above that that my upstream folks will ignore for short periods of time. 
Above that, and I get an extra bill. The overage bandwidth is more expensive 
than the "prepaid" bandwidth. As a result it's in my best interest to modify 
my prepaid bandwidth level very carefully. I raise the prepaid bandwidth as 
my access/colocation/webhosting business grows. This means that my bandwidth 
costs have a "stairstep" look on a graph. When I raise it, I raise it more 
than I currently need to cover near term growth and spikes. So for 
example... if I have just upgraded my bandwidth due to growth, I have gobs 
more than I need and classiccmp doesn't really cost me anything extra. As I 
grow and get closer to the "next step", yeah, it definitely costs money 
because it's using bandwidth I could be using elsewhere. But then the next 
step comes and I have more than I need and it's not a factor. So it's a VERY 
hard thing to quantify exactly what it costs. The "stairsteps" occur fairly 
frequently. Classiccmp often makes me go to the next stair before I would 
normally have to. Again, I'm not complaining :)

> [is there just "a" classiccmp.org server, or is it all spread across 
> several machines?]
See above.... one machine.

Jay 





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