Dustin LeBlanc

Dustin LeBlanc

· 3 min read

Portlandia Tech

Colin the chicken was well cared for
Photo by Brianna Santellan on Unsplash

When we choose a technology at Unrealist, we're looking at more than the features, the price, and the user experience. We believe that part of living our values is to invest our cash in organizations that have similar goals for the world, and conversely, to what we can to divest from organizations that we feel aren't pushing us in a direction we want to see.

Voting With Your Dollars

When you're building a SaaS product, typically your biggest cost is going to be your hosting infrastructure. We live in an era with nearly limitless options for hosting, especially for PHP based applications.

Our first product, Dropship CI is a Laravel application that needs the standard PHP-FPM/Nginx setup common to most PHP based web applications, along with some additional services such as Redis, PostgreSQL, and perhaps the most unusual, a Kubernetes cluster (not for the app, but to handle our builds).

Avoiding Supporting the Empire

After doing some cost comparisons and considering the firms we wanted to work with, we decided it is important to us to divest as much as possible from the influence of the big four tech companies, and one way we can do this is by NOT using GCP or AWS to host our applications.

GCP and AWS have two of the most well known managed Kubernetes platforms, and they make an enticing prospect, with plenty of documentation, and the best compatibility with external services. But given Google's lack of respect for privacy and Amazon's anti-competitive practices in e-commerce, we'd love to do what we can to move our dollars away from their services wherever possible.

Another option we really wanted to consider was Laravel Vapor, which runs on top of AWS serverless infrastructure. Ultimately, this would put us in the AWS ecosystem, and we don't necessarily need the uber-scale available to us that Vapor provides yet, so for now, we're steering clear of that path too.

So for now, we've decided that the vendor of choice for Dropship will be Digital Ocean.

US Company, With Servers in Frankfurt?

One benefit to GCP's infrastructure services is that despite Google's privacy issues, GCP runs on 100% renewable energy, which isn't true for Digital Ocean.

After a bit of research, we discovered that while DO's infrastructure isn't 100% renewable, their Frankfurt datacenter does run on 100% renewable energy, so we promptly migrated our Kubernetes cluster and droplets to the Frankfurt region.

We're guessing that the lion's share of our customers are going to end up being based in the US, and deploying applications to servers located in the US, pulling from repository providers that are in the US, so in real terms, we're probably adding a bit of round-trip latency to every request Dropship handles.

From where we're sitting right now though, we've decided that its worth it to both support a vendor we feel aligns with our goals, and encourage them to run more data centers like the one in Frankfurt.

Colin the Chicken

We know most folks don't consider this level of fucks when making choices about their vendors, so here's some tongue in cheek commentary about our decision-making process.

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