Site infrastructure & costs

Hi all,

I thought I’d share some insights about the site’s infrastructure and the expenses involved.

First, let’s start with a chart showing the expenses of the last 12 months:

In November, my first year of membership with AWS (Amazon Web Services) expired, so they started to bill for services which were free in the first 12 months. Around the same time, the old infrastructure really came close to its limits causing frequent site outages (the site would simply hang due to blocked SQL sessions).

Also, the site was unnecessarily relying on some quite expensive AWS services.

I had to find a solution to

  1. Increase its performance and durability
  2. while still keep the expenses in check.

So I restructured the site’s servers in January and February. There’s now a bigger server running the main site, the forum, the search engine (ElasticSearch) and the reverse proxy, which handles the https: protocol, in separate Docker containers. Which is quite memory intense, so the server has 8 GB of memory.

The database is running on a separate instance provided by AWS. I had to increase its size as well, since in peak times, the number of concurrent sessions was too limited which was the primary reason for the outages.

This way I was able to contain the expenses while the site’s performance and power increased considerably.

In the chart above you can see how the expenses were about to explode in December and January, while in February the restructuring already had a positive impact. In March I was able to use a one-time bonus of $100 that AWS granted for filling a questionnaire.

Since then the expenses are quite constant around $175 per month.

Here’s the usual monthly composition:

  • Data Transfer to the internet (around 500GB / month): ~ $55
  • The main server: ~ $50
  • Database: ~ $30
  • Various: ~ $15
  • VAT: ~ $30

On the other side, here’s my payout from Patreon:

The pledges the Patreons are paying each month is reduced by Patreon’s own fee (5%) and proceeding costs ($5-8 / month).

And then I also have to pay VAT depending on the country of the pledgee.

So in the end I only got like 80% of my monthly expenses covered, which is why I’ve recently increased the GSS’ Patreon goal from $150 to $175.

Let me thank all you faithful Patreons! Without you, this site would not be possible!

And here some positive news: GSS is becoming increasingly popular:

Around 125.000 user sessions per months is quite impressive! And since there are certainly some people blocking Google Analytics, which hides them from this statistic, the number is most likely even considerably higher.

So thank you all!