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iwStack: new cloud service from Prometeus

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Low-end cloud?

In short: today (August 27-th, 2013 A.D.) Prometeus, well-known Italian hosting provider, opened registrations for iwStack, high-availability cloud-type VPS hosting.

Concise.

Below I will describe the event and what happened earlier, in more details. However, if you are not a Prometeus customer. I suggest considering becoming one. No, there will be no promotions for this blog's readers. And a deposit is required to start using the new service. Not too attractive? On the contrary: if you consider my reviews good enough, I suggest giving this new service a try. The mentioned deposit (30 EUR for new customers; 15 EUR for existing customers; there are discounts, by the way).

You might hear about Digital Ocean, simple and reliable cloud hosting service, available at quite moderate prices. You might as well notice that SSD Nodes created new personal cloud line, making their extremely robust VMs available at very attractive price. The iwStack opening adds a new good-looking fellow to this nice company of fast inexpensive clouds (including CloudSigma, by the way).

In the beginning it was word. And the word was «Beta».

Beta stage

Personally, I noticed iwStack Beta advertisement at VPSBoard forums. Luckily, I was testing Prometeus' services in the past and when I asked about participation in beta stage, I was granted access almost immediately. Note: if you aren't yet Prometeus' customer, you should know they reward customers in good faith, and that means that staying their customer for considerable time will bring you many pleasant surprises.

I joined Beta on 12-th of July, 2013. The first impression was fascinating, since beta testers were given ability to create many VMs (VPSes, you name them), thus allowing profound testing, including inner connectivity/network speed tests. To those really interested, brief benchmarking of VMs available during Beta, is in the table below.

RAMCPUsUnixBench scoreIOPS (random read)IOPS (random write)Sequential write speed
512 MB11068.449783888586 MB/sec
1024 MB21376.984615143557 MB/sec
2048 MB42198.666444438598 MB/sec

The complete results can be found in this archive: prometeus.com-cloud-beta.zip. Note the IOPS/sequential write speed fluctuates a lot. Perhaps because many a person that day started to run benchmarks.

Beta stage was quite full of events. The service was put to tests, including forced VMs stop and start and many other catastrophic events. I appreciate good sense of humour of Prometeus' team and the company's CEO. I also appreciate their providing 30 IC (internal credits, used to pay for services; 1 IC = 1 EUR), although I thought it would only be correct if I start using services for real only after I purchase credits of my own.

So now, it's for real. All the beta VMs are destroyed, real-life usage can be commenced. You missed quite a lot of fun if you haven't participated in Beta; however, you can have real fun by using the new service for real.

Comments on comments

In low-end fans media new service features were not accepted solely with admiration. There were quite a lot of not so happy comments, especially regarding the deposit feature: you need to put some money into your account prior to starting using services. Billing is done hourly.

There's iwStack-related thread at LET forums. Let me cite a comment from Prometeus' representative:

[15 Euro prepayment is] not for everyone, one thing we fear the most is abuse. I am sorry, but we need to keep these IPs as clean as possible since we have little control on how are they distributed jumping from instance to instance.
In order to limit abuse and reward our customers we will take a different approach from the majority. You are an old customer in good standing with a good history ? You will get free credit from time to time, various exclusive offers, better support, etc. Also beta tests will only be available for existing customers.
Giving free/heavily discounted promotions to new customers will:
1. Invite abusers;
2. Make people create multiple accounts to benefit and then resell to dubious customers, most spammers;
3. Create a throw-away image about our products in the mind of the customer (i.e. anything goes, i will just lose some pennies, then sign again for some promotion for almost free), while the spectators will think: hey prometeus is desperate, they are trying to get customers at any price, they probably service spammers, booters and have crappy hardware/network, and will deadpool if not already while in reality we are losing money to subsidize all this.

No, old skool (sic!) is better, reward longterm trust and mutual respect, we are not some international company to answer to some ruthless management fund, we are a small family business which appreciates nice people, we prefer to lose money on them than on abusers that curse and swear for 10 cents. I would like to think we do not have customers, but mostly friends and people which appreciate quality and effort to give a special service with a human touch.
In no way, shape or form are we trying to emulate a big company, the culture is fundamentally different, we value our freedom of thinking and innovating and you work a lot differently for yourself than for some boss which does not get out of spreadsheets and presentations, doing everything by the book, failing and then blaming you.
Call me old skool (sic!) but I still believe that big corporations are only managing due to monopoly and contracts with the state, the real value added (with the notable exception of R&D) is done in the small business sector.

Yes, comparison

Since people only see prices and any means to save several cents, a lot of strange critique has been targeted at iwStack. Although most if has been addressed at the mentioned LET thread, I will just post several facts about iwStack 512 MB instance (10 root disk + 10 GB data disk) and 512 MB droplet from Digital Ocean.

iwStackDigital Ocean
Price (per month)4.39 EUR5 USD
Traffic (outbound, per month)~1 TB1 TB
vCPU11
UnixBench score1077.8991.9
IOPS, read/write8884/47185138/3200
Additional volumes/disksavailablenot available
Instance still billed when shut downstorage onlyyes
APIunder developmentmature
DatacentersItalyUSA, Netherlands
Backups/snapshotsavailableavailable
Private netsavailableno
Instances allowed per customerno set limit5
(contact support and provide personal data to raise limit)
Tutorialssomemany
Support responsefast (5-20 minutes)fast (5-20 minutes)
Affiliate programno (?)yes

You get an idea? Services, in general, are very similar. Companies policies differ, though; Prometeus prefers to care about long-term clientele, whereas Digital Ocean prefers to expand as fast as possible, setting instances number limit to thwart inevitable abuse.

Conclusion

Conclusion is simple. I recommend iwStack, unless you have already got persuaded to give it a try.

Stay tuned for more news about iwStack and other providers.

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