How self-hosting compares to paid hosting — I was surprised

In this week’s OpenSim Hosting Providers survey, in addition to a list of commercial hosting providers, there was also an option to say that you hosted your grid yourself.

I expected the commercial providers to do better, since they were, after all, the professionals. But the results surprised me.

How commercial hosting companies stack up against people who do it themselves. (Hypergrid Business survey data.)

How commercial hosting companies stack up against people who do it themselves. (Hypergrid Business survey data.)

When it came to stability — whether the OpenSim install crashed a lot or not — the self-hosted respondents scored their grids better than both the Zetamex and the CloudServe customers. Only Dreamland Metaverse did better in this category.

In performance — how fast or laggy the regions were — both Dreamland and Zetamex scored better.

The one result that did not surprise me was that on the interface, since all three commercial hosting vendors have put quite a bit of work into their web-based management panels.

So does this mean that everyone should run out and run their own OpenSim?

Not necessarily.

  • Running an OpenSim server is like running a Web server. Times three. Would you run your own Apache server? Can you set up a MySQL database? Can you forward ports on a router? These things are not impossible, you can learn how to do it — I learned how to do it, and I’m an idiot — but you have to really want to learn.
  • Home-based connections are slow. Don’t expect more than a couple of people to be able to visit you at once, unless you rent a server in a commercial data center somewhere.
  • Setting up a region or a grid is just the start of it. You have to be able to do your own upgrades and backups. In my case, it was the ongoing maintenance chores that got me to switch to commercial hosting.

Anyway, back to the survey.

I also ran a chart of the individual flavors of OpenSim, but there didn’t seem to be any consistency to the results.

OpenSim variations Dec 2014

Ratings of the various distributions of OpenSim. (Hypergrid Business survey data.)

Although WhiteCoreSim scored better in stability than standard OpenSim and the two packaged distributions, it was only used by two of the respondents. It’s the most cutting-edge of the various flavors of OpenSim, and, with a smaller community to draw on for support, probably requires more technical skill on the part of its users. Or maybe the small sample size just makes the results meaningless.

What did surprise me very much was that none of the respondents were using the New World Studio version of OpenSim, possibly because of a lack of support, updates and communication from its creator.

I was also surprised that Sim-on-a-Stick didn’t score better on the interface, since it is easier to set up than the other versions. Meanwhile, it should have scored the same as the Diva Distro for stability and performance since Sim-on-a-Stick is actually based on the Diva Distro. The variation is mostly likely due to variation in the technical skills and hardware configurations of the users.

Number of responses for each distribution. (Hypergrid Business survey data.)

Number of responses for each distribution. (Hypergrid Business survey data.)


Related Posts'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

4 Responses

  1. Frank Corsi says:

    I think it would be hard to compare providers interface, if someone has never seen all the interfaces of each provider. One can only say they like the one they use, but can not compare until they use them all.

  2.' Geir Nklebye says:

    The “home-based connections are slow” is somewhat of a myth and varies wildly from location to location. My xmir grid is currently running on a 35/35 fiber connection, but the provider can go 1000/1000 on the same line it is just a matter of cost.

    Perhaps the biggest issue on running self hosted is you are on your own in testing and sorting out stability issues on the grid. If you run the release version things should be pretty stable, but on the now missing OSGrid, developer releases were issued every week or 14 days prompting you to upgrade often, and not always well tested code (as the purpose ofOSG was to test new code…)

  3.' Sarge Misfit says:

    Actually, running WhiteCore takes the same level of skill as running OpenSim. In fact, the various console commands a grid owner uses is almost identical in both cases. If anything, WhiteCore is just a little easier to setup because its configuration files are broken down into smaller, easier to use files. Far less searching for those particular things you might want to configure. Also, WhiteCore can be used “out of the box”. Just run its installer and you are all set to run it in either StandAlone mode or Grid mode.

    I think the reason that WhiteCore is not more widely adopted is due to two factors. The second biggest factor is lack of awareness. OpenSim has been around far longer than WhiteCore. As a result, far more people know of OpenSim than those who know of WhiteCore. Over time, as more people become aware of WhiteCore, more people will go with it. People tend to go with what is already being widely used. They switch to lesser known products only after they have had a chance to compare.

    The biggest factor, though, is the fact that it does not have HyperGrid. That is one of the most popular features of OpenSim and with good reason. It gives every single user out there mobility and access across the Metaverse. It gives people the option of being totally independent with their own self-hosted single region instance while allowing them to take part in the society of the Metaverse.

    And HG is coming to WhiteCore. They are currently testing it and I hope to see some open testing of it soon.

  4.' Marin County says:

    I just bought myself a “server” — Intel i7 with SSD drive ( solid state drive – faster than a Hard Drive ) to take advantage of Comcast “BOOST”.
    Is NAT LOOPBACK going to be an issue ?
    I got the router, Windows and Norton to open ports ! But…
    What do i need to know about a Domain and DNS ?
    Anything else ?