Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On Changing Providers

In the last week, I've pulled the trigger on changing providers for my blog solution.  It was a hard call to make, but inevitable.  I feel like I left an old friend of seven years, but it was time because they were holding me back.

From whence we came

Starting in 2002, I went on my first missions trip to Japan and began blogging.  Believe it or not, this all started on a free general hosting provider, Tripod.  I created web pages in FrontPage, appending to a single HTML document that was uploaded via a 3.5" floppy on my homestay's PC using 56K dialup.  I regret to think how much that cost him.

During my 2003 trip, I discovered an internet cafe and upgrade my process to use a USB flash drive!  Epic upgrade.  Not so much, but we're still using free web hosting started using Blogger, but I learned CSS and prettified the sites with custom tabs that linked between the URLs.

Finally for the 2004 trip, I purchased a domain (which I have since lost due to misunderstanding regestrar emails) and chose a cheap (long since forgotten) webhost.

A year later, I transferred to Server Logistics and started my own blog ofter college, thinking, "Hey, Mac OS X is awesome!"  And it was for some time.  Then I stopped using Terminal.app to do "really cool things".  I got a day job as a Systems Administrator for an agriculture distributor and spent lots of time in the desert in Mexico using serial cables to reconfigure UPSes.  This was when I followed Michael Heilemann and was excited about Wordpress.  I did my first deployment of Wordpress using MySQL and thought it was magical.  I even managed to import my older blogs.

Enough of that, I thought.  I'm tired of Wordpress as my CMS.  I'm going to be hip and trendy and use Textpattern on the premier Ruby on Rails host, TextDrive (now Joyent).  

Joyent was awesome.  I couldn't find a better deal on *nix hosting.  Joyent still is awesome.

Where we're headed

Now after four years with them, I've decided to change platforms.  With such a good deal, why change?  Costs, to some degree.  There's lots of great free solutions out there, with varying popularity and functionality.

The other major factor: I don't support *nix environments directly.  On daily basis, the only *nix based devices I administer are firewalls, and most of them are vendor specific, so it's managed by a web interface or proprietary command line.  Additionally, I'm a quadruple certified MCITP, so why shouldn't I be running my website on a Windows platform?

How we do it

Right now, it's a combination of DynDNS as a registrar and DNS host and Blogger (once again).  Why not Wordpress.com?  It costs $12/yr to redirect my domain.  Blogger does it for free.  In fact, as simple as this DNS infrastructure is, I could've even hosted the DNS for free.

But this isn't the end goal.  Rather, Windows Azure has a great deal for MSDN subscribers, and it's something I want to take advantage of.  The only issue is about migrating data.  First I've got to develop a basic CMS for posting (No comments planned, sorry!), then I've got to figure out storage (flat file? SQL Azure?), and last but not least, import those old posts and images.

It will be a fun project, but in the meantime, Blogger will have to do because it's instant ROI.  Unless something else awesome comes along.

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