Flexiscale launches on demand hosting

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Flexiscale, a new hosting on-demand computing service aimed at Web 2.0 startups, launched in the UK today. It will compete with Amazon’s EC2/S3 service. The move is significant because there is currently only one other on-demand, ‘pay as you go’ hosting solution in Europe aimed at startups, which typically offer free services to begin with and thus need hosting which is not financially punitive at the outset.

Flexiscale – launched today at the Future of Web Apps event – is in fact a new product from XCalibre Communications, a Scotland-based hosting company which has been around for 10 years. The move shows that there is demand for this kind of service from new UK and European startups, desperate for a solution closer to home than typically US-based firms, which can suffer from latency issues and legal constraints over the protection of data (the US does not have a data “safe harbour” agreement with all European countries).

So is Flexiscale really going to be another Amazon EC2/S3?

Speaking to a few people about this, I hear that architecturally they could well have a better product than Amazon. That’s a big claim. But perhaps one of the key feathers in Flexiscale’s service – described as ‘utility computing on demand – is that it supports Windows while Amazon only does Linux.

Other key differences include the offer if a static IP addresses. Amazon EC2/S3 doesn’t do this, so when you bring up an Amazon EC2 server you don’t know what IP address you’ll have.

Plus, if an Amazon EC2 server dies it doesn’t come back automatically. Flexiscale automatically brings back the server with a different machine. It also switches your site to another box if one box is getting too hammered by traffic. Amazon typically does not do this.

In fact there’s a lot Amazon doesnt do, which is perhaps why they won’t offer a Service Level Agreement. Flexiscale will, and currently offers 99.95% uptime.

Flexiscale has been in a two-month Beta testing period, and had paying customers for the past 6 weeks, among whom is UK-based enterprise startup Huddle.

Aside from Amazon, competitors to Flexiscale include Gogrid (US) MediaTemple (US) and Q-Layer (Belgium).

Amazon EC2/S3, as mentioned, has safe harbour and SLA issues. Gogrid is also US-based and offers a subscription-based model (so it’s not really pay-as-you-go) and MediaTemple has had quite a lot of negative press recently.
Astoundingly, the only truly ‘on-demand’ hosting firm in Europe is Q-Layer, which although offers pretty good technology, is currently targeting a much more corporate market and so is therefore much less suited to smaller startups who need to scale from a smaller base.

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/10/03/on-demand-host-goes-up-against-amazon-s3/ On-demand host goes up against Amazon S3

    […] Flexiscale, a new UK-based on-demand computing service aimed at Web 2.0 startups plans to compete with Amazon’s EC2/S3 service. The move – announced at today’s Future of Web Apps conference in London – is significant because there are so few ‘pay as you go’ hosting solutions in Europe, so the launch of a new service shows there’s real demand of this kind of scalable hosting for startups. Speaking to a few people about this space, I hear that architecturally Flexiscale could well have a better product than Amazon. That’s a big claim. But perhaps one of the key feathers in Flexiscale’s service is that it supports Windows while Amazon only does Linux, and offers an SLA, which the latter doesn’t. For more detail on this check out TechCrunch UK. […]

  • http://londonbikers.com Jay Adair

    Expensive. I just used their calculator and it came out at more than double what we’re paying for another UK host.

    If you’re wanting to try out ideas, i.e. facebook apps, it’s not like you need a server just for that most likely, you could just have one dedicated server and use that for a multitude of apps. If your app doesn’t perform well on one dedicated server when you’re in beta, then you’ve probably got a bad architecture :) Unless you’re running Facebook of course.

    The biggest pain in the butt I see with UK hosting versus other markets like the US is bandwidth costs. We’re well priced on hardware, but we charge too much for bandwidth, or have too low a maximum data transfer ceiling before per-amount charges kick in.

  • http://www.mediatemple.net Alex from (mt)

    Wow. Quite a lot of negative press recently? Where? Provide recent links…Ok, Having SOME Grid customers with latency this week, not completely down btw, has produced 3 blogs posts in 48hrs (as of this comment).

    And on this side of the pond I see Media Temple posts like these:

    Did you actually do research or read that line off of a Press Release?

  • http://www.flexiscale.com Tony Lucas


    The key difference is one instance from us includes automatic failover to spare hardware, full backups, full enterprise level hardware,and the scalability factor as well. Taking these into account (which any serious business should) eliminates the cost differences.



  • http://londonbikers.com Jay Adair

    Well put :-) The auto failover and backup aspect is indeed very good. I for one have to rely on my own systems to cover these.

  • http://microformats.co.uk Matthew Ogston

    It’s good to see Xcalibre behind this service. They have proved an excellent and reliable host in the past for many websites i’ve built and hosted. I hope their service is more reliable than MediaTemple’s Grid – which is still too patchy for my liking.

  • http://kitchentwo.com/2007/10/04/taking-on-the-giants/   Taking on the giants by Kitchen 2.0

    […] has also got a good write up by Techcrunch (USA and UK) which is always good to see. I wish them all the […]

  • http://www.folknology.com/ AL

    I think it’s great that we are seeing some competition in this market place, especially here in the UK .

    However I think Flexiscale will have to check their numbers, as they aren’t yet competitive with AWS on my brief peak. I do this because I am in the market for just such a facility.

    Here’s the numbers I calculated from their site.
    Your mileage may vary, and I also recognize that Flexiscale offer things which AWS do not, but you have to get the basics right first, for us that means the numbers.


  • http://www.late-holiday-deals.net Mark

    Great idea – yes they’ve pumped up the price for early adopters, but it’s the quality that really matters with hosting of large-scale solutions. Personally, I’d trust Flexiscale more than some of their rivals given the link-up with XCalibre.

  • jas

    The good case of rip off britain when it comes to bandwidth it’s so so expensive here in britain,the best deal for naybody by a longshot for bandwidth has gotto to uk2.net a massive 10,000 GB a month,beat that for less than £200 a month ?

  • http://blog.lazzurs.net/2007/10/06/future-of-web-apps/ » Future of Web Apps rob@lazzurs.net: Me, tech and the world.

    […] we are not able to offer them with the platform we have built. That morning we got on Techcrunch (also Techcrunch UK) and everyone has been talking about Flexiscale every […]

  • Manuel
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