GCE experiences

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A few weeks into my attempts to use the GCE as a web server (and general server, e.g. for my private git repositories) and it might be time to summarise my experiences so far.

The server now hosts

  • my blogs,
  • some private web server (the one serving e.g. my own yubnub clone)
  • my private git repositories

I already described the blog hosting; these are all static pages that are trivial to host. The private web server is a set of common lisp packages served behind nginx by hunchentoot. Running the lisp code was always a bit of a pain on the old VPS because memory was so tight (tip: start sbcl with --dynamic-space-size 150 to work even on limited VPS instances). On the GCE there is no problem whatsoever, sbcl runs out of the box and is blindingly fast compared to what I had at burst.net.

The git repositories were hosted via gitosis which I couldn't find for the Debian Wheezy I use with Google. But gitolite is available and the migration is painless and well documented.

The one service I could not migrate was the simple email forwarding for one of my domains. Google does not allow you to send email from your compute instance which might be understandable but is a bit of a nuisance. Until I find a cheaper solution I just use my domain hoster to do the forwarding.

One thing I still need to fix is my backup regime. So far I do periodic scp copying of tar files back to my home machine where the general backup happens. This was never a problem but Google has no generous flat rate for data so I currently actually pay almost as much for outbound data as for the cpu instance. Since that isn't very much I haven't changed things yet but eventually I should just change to rsync or similar to keep the data usage down.

Overall I am really happy with Google GCE as my hoster although in all fairness I cannot compare it to other providers since I haven't tried any of them (except for burst.net). You might e.g. like to check out DigitalOcean which is highly recommended by Thomas Ferris Nicolaisen of git Minutes fame.