Hosting of inSites

At inSites, we aim to be fair and sustainable. As far as possible in all areas. According to these claims we also choose the companies we work with or whose services we use.

When looking for a hosting provider, the search turned out to be a bit more difficult than expected and is still not completely finished. Below we would like to briefly tell you about our search so far and the hurdles we encountered:

Since we have special hosting requirements for inSites in terms of accessibility and general reliability, it can't and shouldn't be just any hosting provider we choose. Moreover, this provider should also apply the same standards as we do, if possible.

Our hosting provider should also be fair and sustainable.

Our code is modern, so simple Apache/PHP/MySQL configurations, which are a dime a dozen, are not enough for inSites. We use Next.js on the frontend, Node.js and Express.js on the backend, and PostgreSQL as a database. In addition, scalability is another relevant point: inSites must be able to withstand and process many requests at the same time, but must not reach load limits that could cause the website or, even more unfavorably, the tracking to fail.

Furthermore, it is important to us that our selected hosting provider thinks similarly to us: completely emission-free data centers are not yet possible, but at least green electricity should be. Further carbon emissions caused should then be compensated. And last but not least, the data we store, even though it is completely anonymous, should not fall into hands that want to misuse it. As far as current e-privacy regulations are concerned, server locations within the EU, for example, or better, in Germany, are therefore the most suitable. A shorter connection between users and data centers also ensures a reduction in so-called megabyte miles, and therefore fewer polluting emissions.

We quickly realized that the choice of providers becomes quite small after applying all these wishes, and we realized: we will have to cut back and find compromises. So far, it is not possible to fulfill everything we had in mind. Therefore, we searched for the best possible solution at the moment, but continue to keep a good eye on the landscape of offers.

A perfect hosting solution is not realistic - it remains a search for the current optimum.

In addition to the behemoths Amazon AWS and Google's Cloud Run, we have also considered self-managed solutions with our trusted hosting provider, Hetzner. As a small startup, however, we don't employ a DevOps department, so offering inSites must involve as little maintenance effort as possible, so we can focus on the product itself and its quality. Other candidates were ScaleWay from France, which is promising but unfortunately still had too many problems and too much lag, and Porter with Kubernetes, which would also have been a very interesting solution, but which involves too much in-house management and, among other things, does not offer an integrated backup solution.

At the end of our search so far, we ended up with Digital Ocean's App Platform, which has been around since late 2020. Here are all the features that are important to us. The scalability, automatic backups, little management effort, fast deployment directly from Git, no data collection frenzy like Amazon or Google as operators, a server location in Germany (Frankfurt), and the use of 100% renewable energy. Currently, we see only two disadvantages with this solution: the scalability is not automatic, but must be manually activated by us vertically and horizontally. However, with appropriate monitoring tools that we use for this, this is a manageable small effort. The second drawback is that Digital Ocean uses CloudFlare, which is somewhat controversial but very widely used worldwide. With any luck, this will change in the future, or perhaps Digital Ocean will offer ways to use alternatives.

In any case, we continue to keep an eye on the hosting market and will be vigilant in looking for and using the best possible solution at any given time. As you can see, we're not 100% satisfied yet, so we'll keep working to find a solution that fully meets our needs.