Small clients in data centers



  • I'm going to try to stay on point and not jump all over the place with this one. I'm not really trying to resolve an immediate need, so much as it is rethinking some fundamentals in client environments. What I'd like to cover:

    *Small clients being able to use, possibly, a site to site VPN with a colo.

    I was going to bring up what people have been using a VPS for, but I'll save that for a different thread as I could possibly be getting too far off topic with that.

    I've got some general business practice questions. Nothing really specific that I'm trying to solve right now (though in writing this, maybe I will end up generating a couple specific questions in regards to client scale). There are quite a few times where I try and help a client displace some operating costs with systems procurement. What I mean by that, is there are times when a client is generally on the fence with scale where it's hard to justify spending thousands on a physical server, but at the same time they could benefit with having onsite DNS/DHCP/AD (or equivalent)/file server.

    With extremely small clients (some with 10 or less users and no growth anticipated) having come from previous providers, I've dumped their physical servers all together. I leveraged DHCP with their firewall, a password policy was required so I ended up using Azure AD (nothing on-prem), and no internal DNS was needed. Also since Synology now has a plugin for a central directory (focusing on a password policy still), no reason for me to have AD or the associated Microsoft licensing. File services was, in most cases, handled by SharePoint Online or an onsite Synology NAS (backed up with BackBlaze B2 for ~$45/year); depending on the needs for collaboration, sharing links externally, etc.

    With clients slightly larger, I found it more difficult to displace all their servers as they required a central directory (in most cases AD is used), remote desktop, radius, etc. In many instances using Hyper-V, XenServer, or VMware (depending on which provider we picked them up from or if we are rebuilding the environment).

    So with the clients that are just large enough to have a need for systems, but just small enough that possibly leveraging a site-to-site VPN with a datacenter, it gets me to thinking if that's even realistic. In my last job, we had a couple datacenters between Fiberpipe in Idaho and Switch in Nevada. All the clients would just use a site-to-site and they paid a flat fee for a month. The price was typically pretty competitive with how we built out Azure in the data center (SQL back end, Hyper-V hosts, cloud built with SCVMM, and Azure Pack installed on top for billing/self service provisioning, etc).

    After setting up a site-to-site VPN from a smaller company to the data center, I still had one problem; Internet throughput. Assuming I could even find fast enough speeds for ~50 users (roughly 30/30Mb dedicated fiber), the costs are up to around $800/month; up from about $75/month for 5Mb DSL.

    Anyone think it's viable to use a site-to-site to displace customer equipment costs? If so, is there something that you're doing to keep costs down and throughput at acceptable levels?



  • Something to think about, with most modern services you have no need a VPN. VPNs are LAN extenders. Old style LAN based designs with tools like AD can need a VPN to make AD keep thinking it is on a LAN, and things like SMB shares basically need a LAN to function. But if you switch from AD to Azure AD, JumpCloud, local accounts, or central managed local accounts, for example, the VPN is unneeded. Same for "modern" storage like NextCloud, no LAN or VPN necessary. Same for modern web apps, they don't care if they are on the LAN or not.

    Part of what makes us flexible where we are, is that none of our services or applications are LAN-centric. Without that, we are free to deploy anywhere we want - internal, colocation, VPS, cloud computing, doesn't matter.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Small clients in data centers:

    Something to think about, with most modern services you have no need a VPN. VPNs are LAN extenders. Old style LAN based designs with tools like AD can need a VPN to make AD keep thinking it is on a LAN, and things like SMB shares basically need a LAN to function. But if you switch from AD to Azure AD, JumpCloud, local accounts, or central managed local accounts, for example, the VPN is unneeded. Same for "modern" storage like NextCloud, no LAN or VPN necessary. Same for modern web apps, they don't care if they are on the LAN or not.

    Part of what makes us flexible where we are, is that none of our services or applications are LAN-centric. Without that, we are free to deploy anywhere we want - internal, colocation, VPS, cloud computing, doesn't matter.

    I've saw some cost benefits of leveraging our own data center to provide these cloud services to clients. But with certain VPS offerings getting far lower in price, it's nearly impossible to be THAT competitive.



  • @bbigford said in Small clients in data centers:

    @scottalanmiller said in Small clients in data centers:

    Something to think about, with most modern services you have no need a VPN. VPNs are LAN extenders. Old style LAN based designs with tools like AD can need a VPN to make AD keep thinking it is on a LAN, and things like SMB shares basically need a LAN to function. But if you switch from AD to Azure AD, JumpCloud, local accounts, or central managed local accounts, for example, the VPN is unneeded. Same for "modern" storage like NextCloud, no LAN or VPN necessary. Same for modern web apps, they don't care if they are on the LAN or not.

    Part of what makes us flexible where we are, is that none of our services or applications are LAN-centric. Without that, we are free to deploy anywhere we want - internal, colocation, VPS, cloud computing, doesn't matter.

    I've saw some cost benefits of leveraging our own data center to provide these cloud services to clients. But with certain VPS offerings getting far lower in price, it's nearly impossible to be THAT competitive.

    Yeah, you need some huge scale to get your own facility to have benefits. Even if you can get the cost down, you can't match the performance, ease of use, scalability, capacity, geographic diversity, and protections of even the lowest cost players like Vultr.


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