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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

On Buying Milk And Not The Cow

In Media, Technology on July 29, 2011 at 4:55 am

The further you get from the Internet backbone in the First World, economies of scale make labor costs lower, while also making data-center costs go higher.   Fortunately, because of the glut in capacity left behind by the dot com bubble, and because of the mainstreaming  of open-source software,  our server options are equivalent to the whole gamut of hosting services on the Internet.

FIRST, SOME JARGON

Domain names are pointers to entities on the Internet—any organization, company or person wanting a named presence on the net.   While each domain name can have multiple sub-domains.  For example, this blog at mediumelectric.wordpress.com is posted in the mediumelectric sub-domain of the wordpress.com main domain.

A computer is turned into a server box, a platform for providing Internet content and services, with software;for the basic operating system, for serving up web content, for mounting the relational database that feeds dynamic and interactive web pages, and for the text pre-processor that elegantly parses dynamic data into lay-outs meaningful to us humans.

The software now used for mounting servers on the Internet, because of legendary reliability and cost-free licenses, are the open-source commodities collectively referred to as LAMPs …

  • Linux – or any Unix derivative, with Linus Torvald’s creation having become the icon for an amazingly robust operating system that continues to be improved by a huge public community of, as it turns out, very talented techies.
  • Apache – the correspondingly robust web-server developed and improved by the open-source community for the Unix operating system (and now, in a backhanded compliment, also available in a Windows version).
  • MySQL – the fully relational and distributed database-server, again developed and improved by the open-source community for Apache on Unix (or Windows) boxes.
  • PHP – the text pre-processor, developed and improved by the open-source community for Apache, that provides a rich programming language for data-visualization—executing complex database queries and presenting the results real-time in web pages that look like painstakingly laid out content and show no hint of being generated on the fly.

SOME PERSPECTIVE

The www is a throwback.  The www typically prefixing website addresses such as http://www.wordpress.com is actually a default sub-domain for the serving up of web content, separate from other types of services for email and file transfers–an old practice when bandwidth and computing power were  far less than what are commonly available today. Now however, any given computer can be a server not only for web content, email and file transfers, but also for multiple and separate organizations or customers.

THE BOTTOM-LINE

How we acquire and use Internet resources (although crucial) remains secondary to our role of simply, promptly and very reliably taking full responsibility for the work-flow, the modest part in the value-chain, that our clients entrust to us.  So, we trivialize the technology, and very consciously keep its cost in proper proportion to our product, by aggressively steering a fleet of websites onto multiple high quality data-centers that straddle the Internet backbone in theUnited States.

Abstract away the hardware details and you can quickly see how we are able to implement work-flows that scale-up to match our clients’ needs.  We have common-use portals, shared by clients that are just starting to do business with us, but whose content are firmly separated by rigid security containers.  We can set up break-out portals, under new domain names or sub-domains (that we are not above making cryptic as an added privacy measure, masking them from curious eyes) exclusively for clients doing more business with us.  And, we can set up tailored portals with work-flows adapted to the practices of large-volume clients.

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