Our Technology Stack And Why

As most of you are aware by now, we are heavily into automation and scaling. If you can't scale, you lose. So while we certainly have some scaling lessons to still learn on the business side of things, I think we have the Tech side nailed pretty darn good.

I am purposely going to try and leave actual "tools" out of this. While they are certainly part of our tech, they really are what out tech is meant to support, and I am a pretty open book about the tools we use.  To be clear, these are in house solutions, not necessaraly what we emplay for customers. Here we go.

Servers -


We have used servers from many, many providers over the years, I think 12 in just the last three years, but we have really settled on just two right now.

Ovh - https://www.ovh.com/world/ Ovh was at one time, and I think still is, the world largest supplier of datacenter based servers. They are MONSTER. We use OVH primarily for servers that need multiple IP addresses.

These are mostly Linux based VPSs (Virtual Private Servers) but occasionally Windows machines as well.

The IPs cost $3 per IP, but it is just a one time cost! I'm not aware of anybody else selling IPs at this cost. I'd love to hear from you if you are aware of anybody.

These are mostly Linux based VPSs (Virtual Private Servers) but occasionally Windows machines as well.

The IPs cost $3 per IP, but it is just a one time cost! I'm not aware of anybody else selling IPs at this cost. I'd love to hear from you if you are aware of anybody.

Hetzner - https://www.hetzner.com/

Hetzner, just has excellent boxes at great prices. And their internal systems are pretty good as well. 

They also have a great AMD line of servers for amazing prices https://www.hetzner.com/dedicated-rootserver/matrix-ax. The machines we get from Hetzner are almost exclusively to host Windows VPSs (virtual private servers).

All of these machines will be accessible through the single IP of the server itself. This makes them all, super secure and something we really don't have to worry about as you usually would with these kinds of machines.

Hetzner Servers

Most of our Windows-based tools will sit on these machines, and if it's a tool that runs 24/7, that tool will often have a dedicated VPS.

Software Stack On The VPSs


All of our machines are built with the same stack.

We run CentOS7 as the primary operating system for our dedicated servers. The reason is that we have a lot of experience with it, and it well supports the needs of the other software we need to install. Just about all dedicated server providers support it as well, https://www.centos.org/download/.

We used to use: Proxmox which can be found at this link, to build our virtual servers on, and can't really say anything "bad" about it. It currently just doesn't support some of the features out of the box that we feel we need on our dedicated machines.

We moved to Virtulizor https://virtualizor.com/ after leaving Proxmox. The cost is just $9 a month per dedicated server, and it allows us to easily do so much more than we were able to do with Proxmox.

Visualize

Virtulizer gives you a very easy way of handling IP addresses, Proxmox does not. This is for both internal networks and external networks. To me, this alone is worth the price.

Virtulizor also supports both domain and port forwarding, which is what we really need with our kind of set up.

We can create an internal-only network for our Windows machines, and them forward an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) port to each machine individually.

So if I have a dedicated machine with 40 Virtual machines on it, I can forward ports 3000 - 3040, one to each machine. Then in my RDP software, connect to any of those outside forwarded ports, and get the machine on the internal network. This can be done with Proxmox, but it's a super pain.

Speaking Of Remote Desktops


Because we use a lot of Remote Desktop Access, for several people (honestly, I'd do this if it were just me), we use Apache Guacamole https://guacamole.apache.org/
 for RDP access.

I can't say enough good things about Apache Guacamole, I can access any of our machines from any location in the world, with just a browser; without having to pay or install a client on those systems.

Not only that, but it allows for user and group accounts. So I can create a group for SEO team members, and all of our SEO people automatically have access to the SEO machines, as a whole.

One of the biggest concerns and realities of working with multiple outsourced workers, it the having to unallocated account quickly. Somebody gets fired, etc., etc. You need them out fast before they do any damage. In this case, just pull them from the group and no more access. It's a brilliant piece of software, truly!

Email Systems


In my line of work, we need a lot of email addresses, usually with catch-all systems. The easiest system we have found for this, hands down is Mail-in-a-box 
https://mailinabox.email/.

The reasons we use this over anything else is two-fold. 

  1. Mail In A Box has a built-in DNS server. So, you just set the DNS records for that, then buy a bunch of domains dedicated to email only. Anything works pretty much, .coms are the best though. But anything like 337737.com 338363.com, etc. Then point the new domains to the dns on the Main In A Box system. It will AUTOMATICALLY ad all required DNS on the system; you do nothing but ad the domains.
  2. The second thing we LOVE about Mail In A Box is how they handle domains aliases. I just create a domain as a domain alias to my catch-all email address, now everything from that domain goes to the catch-all account. So I can easily feed 20 domains into the one email. :-)

The only caution about Mail In A Box is that it has some pretty heavy Greylisting. This greylisting can mess up mail check timing sometimes for certain software, so that should be disabled. There is an article about it here https://discourse.mailinabox.email/t/how-to-turn-off-edit-grelisting/4984/2 .

Our Tier Gapping system is just one that uses this Technology Stack. 

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