October 3, 2021

Running a Dedicated Server on Gridpane

I have 15+ years in the web/seo/hosting business and in the last year I've moved the majority of our client websites over to GridPane. This post is not intended to be a Gridpane review, and the short version is that GP lets you provision secure VPS and dedicated servers with which you can run your own WP hosting infrastructure. For example, you could grab a droplet at DO, install Ubuntu and a LEMP stack, configure it, and then start installing WP sites. Or - as with Gridpane, you can grab the same droplet, run their provisioning script and in around 10 minutes have a secure and functioning LEMP stack where you can add WP sites in around 2 minutes (or as long as it takes you to setup a DNS record).

Many Gridpane users run their servers on VPSs and this is a solid use case for a number of reasons (you can do a Google search to see the advantages of running a VPS). However, as I've learned in GP's insanely useful Facebook group, because Gridpane provides the stack, the world of dedicated servers is now open to linux non-administrators like me.

A Move to Dedicated Servers

I've always stayed away from dedicated servers for a number of reasons (you can do a Google search for the plusses and minuses of hosting on a dedicated server). However, with Gridpane a dedicated server becomes more of a faster and fancier VPS because all of the management features they have apply equally to VPSs and to bare metal. My goal in writing this post it to chart my journey using dedicated servers with Gridpane.

Approaches

One of the main decisions you need to make is how you are going to setup your dedicated box -- are you going to setup a Gridpane server directly onto the dedicated server (as you would for a VPS), or are you going to break up the box into smaller servers.

Dedicated Server as "Super VPS"

If you are going to use the dedicated sever as a "larger and more powerful VPS" then you can go ahead and use GP as you would any other VPS. However, you need to a bit more planning for the (eventual) situation where your server goes down.

While you should always keep many levels of backups, if a VPS goes down it's very likely (not guaranteed) that the VPS provider will alert you of a problem, and they can easily migrate the VPS to a new node without changing your IP.

Read that last part again because it's the key point here -- because if you have a dedicated server and the server does down for whatever reason, your dedicated server company isn't automatically going to swap out your box for another one and migrate your IP. Thus, you need to plan ahead, and that you can do with floating IPs

Floating IPs

A floating IP is an extra IP that you'd purchase to go in front of your dedicated sever. So at this point you have the IP for your dedicated server, and your floating IP. The concept here is that you now point all of your hosting records to the floating IP address (and NOT the address of the physical server). In this manner your sites point to the floating IP, which routes to the physical IP of the dedicated server.

The reason we set it up like this is because if your server goes down, you can spin up another dedicated server (or VPS -- it depends upon your provider), and then simply point the floating IP to the physical IP of the new box.

  1. Websites -> floating IP -> Physical dedicated server hardware ("Server One").

2. Server One failure.

3. Websites -> floating IP -> New Physical dedicated server hardware ("Server Two").

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