Monday, September 12, 2005

the power of open source

If you can't tell by now, I'm the resident geek amongst the founders. Tonight's post is aimed squarely at the CFO's of the world.

If you have ever doubted the cost efficencies of open source, consider this: the combination of system software (OS, DBMS, app server) and sufficent hardware to run that software at our expected user load costs less than $10K (not including the application itself, of course...) 6 years ago, an equivalent system cost well over $450,000.

6 years ago, I set up a server farm with roughly the same capabilites as the Gatheroo server farm for a client. At the time, we had to use proprietary load balancing systems and mid-sized Sun and Dell hardware for the database and application servers. The pair of high availability load balancers alone cost over $30,000, and took three techs 4 days and 6 services calls to implement. The servers ran Solaris and WindowsNT. The databases were Oracle ($$ -- it's a damn good DBMS, I've used it in many high performance computing systems -- but it ain't cheap), and the application servers were a customized Java environment (more $$, all licenses). Each server+system license stack cost over $125K each.

Zanby is done with used and new hardware, running open source services. The Zanby high availability load balancers were put together from used 1u Dell servers (ebay!), running the free (beer) + Free (libre) UltraMonkey tools (LVS, heartbeat). Cost for the load balancers: $600 plus 1 tech for 3 days. Lab tests suggest we're going to get **at least** as good thruput from the system as the equivalent proprietary system.

By the way, I priced out the equivalent system in the proprietary world today: to get the same performance, we'd still need to spend over $15K **plus** pay an annual license fee to get to continue to use the system after the first year. And no, they're not any easier to install or operate.

The Zanby applicaiton servers are optimized dual-cpu AMD boxes, running a LAMP stack. Total cost per server: less than $2k.