Gandi Simple Hosting review (1 year+)

Big on Hosting. Unlimited Space & Unlimited Bandwidth
I’ve been using Gandi Simple Hosting for at least a year now. It’s essentially used like shared hosting, but it’s actually a Xen VPS that Gandi manages in an automated manner. You get robust isolation and your own daemons for Apache, PHP, MySQL, PHP-APC, etc — and top of everything there’s a shared Varnish cache. I should note that while my review refers to their PHP+MySQL instance, they also do other types such as PHP+PostgreSQL and NodeJS+MongoDB. Essentially, you can mix and match PHP, NodeJS, and Python with MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.

There’s information on Gandi’s product page and blog, but I dug for some more information from their support:

Code:

size      | RAM       | Cores     | PHP Processes
-------------------------------------------------
S         | 256Mo     | 1         | 2
M         | 512Mo     | 2         | 4
L         | 1024Mo    | 3         | 8
XL        | 4096Mo    | 4         | 16
XXL       | 16384Mo   | 8         | 32

On the smallest plan, 64MB of that RAM is reserved for PHP-APC. This doubles with every subsequent size, and as anyone who’s used it knows it makes a huge difference to application performance. Bandwidth isn’t actually metered at all, and is just an estimate of what kind of use you can expect from the specs before you start hitting your connection limit and such.

The connection limit initially worried me, however it turns out that this only applies to PHP processes. Static files are served by Apache in a way that doesn’t count towards this limit, and on top of that they’re cached by Varnish so in many cases they don’t hit your instance at all. If you do run out of PHP connections due to slow-running processes, the server will wait for 60 seconds before returning a 503 to the user there’s no room for. Clearly, this should rarely if ever be a problem for most sites as most PHP processes do their thing within hundreds of milliseconds.

It’s hard to metric these things, but if it helps: the execution time of a default WordPress installation’s home page on Gandi’s ‘S’ package consistently measures 0.55—0.70ms, which is virtually on par with what my 1GB Linode VPS running Nginx and MariaDB manages. Performance has been excellent throughout my time with Gandi; whatever they’re doing to isolate the resources clearly works well, because I haven’t noticed any blips and things are always blazing fast.

Support is one area where Gandi could improve, as it doesn’t live up to their clear technical prowess. It always seems to take at least several hours for a response, and for things that take longer (presumably because of escalation) I can be left hanhing for a day or two before receiving a response. At the very least, communication to let me know things are being escalated and/or looked into would be appreciated.

Fortunately support is rarely needed, as I haven’t noticed any downtime and the product lives up to the ‘simple’ part of its name in that Gandi manages all of the server software updates, optimisation, etc (presumably in an automated way) and all I need to do is use the panel occasionally to create vhosts, clear the PHP-APC or Varnish caches, etc. In fact, every ticket I’ve raised has really just been a question about how the service works.

One thing I should note is that this package isn’t geared towards those looking for cPanel or indeed anything like it. The control panel is Gandi’s own, and basically just provides a UI for the basics. In my case, what I can do with Gandi’s panel is exactly what I’d do via my VPS command line — but if you’re looking for FTP sub-accounts, emails, etc this isn’t for you. This is strictly for running applications and sites, and it’s possibly because of this simplicity and focus that it’s so efficient.

My overall opinion is that this is a great model for those seeking VPS-like performance without worrying about server administration. If you can live with your control panel options being limited to creating vhosts, phpMyAdmin, and controlling basics such as disk space then you will enjoy very fast sites in return. Application developers are probably the target market here, i.e. those who understand and value what’s happening under the hood but don’t want to manage it.

Here are some screenshots of the admin panel:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/…36/gandi-1.png

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/…36/gandi-2.png

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/…36/gandi-3.png

PS: My web address has been submitted for moderators.


Last edited by Ryan Williams; Today at 07:04 AM.

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