Finding a Xen server

For various reasons, I have a customer that would like to try out a Xen virtualization server. Not a big one, more of a test bed for some ideas and also a chance to experience how Xen is to work with. I’m happy to help, I’ve just finished setting up a VMWare ESXi system for a company and that was fun and exciting. Virtualization is the way to go. Anyway, I took a look around for some providers of small size solutions, here are some notes:
So, some quick research on WebHostingTalk pointed me to some starting points. VirtuallyDedicated got some good reviews and recommendations, as did xenEurope. I also stumbled over a Xen wiki with a list of providers, which pointed me to VPSChoice with another list of providers. OK, no shortage of potential providers here then.
I checked through some of the more promising looking sites and ended up short listing VirtuallyDedicated, RapidXen, Linode, fsckVPS, SliceHost, xenEurope, xencon and xenplanet

Eventually I decided to plump for VirtuallyDedicated. They were cheap with well configured packages and an East Coast location, which works for both US and Europe. Creating the package and entering my details went smoothly until I hit Paypal, which started playing the “you must register a bank account – sorry that bank account is already registered” loop, from which there is no escape. Eventually, by logging out and back in again, I managed to pay for a Xen account. Within ten minutes I had received an email from VD apologizing because they had no more available on the E Coast, would the Mid West suit me or would I like a refund. I settled for a refund and within a few minutes they had refunded the payment. Service that was so good I’d kind of wished I’d gone ahead with them. :)

Next up is RapidXen, which went through with setting up the account and taking payment. But so far (2 hours) no sign of a server to log on to, but I’ll give them time.

Here are some miscellaneous notes of other providers that I would definitely short list:

  • Linode would have been my first choice if the server was for me, but they are a touch more expensive than some of the others (but still excellent value) and so they slipped down the list. But from what I’ve heard, they have an excellent reputation and if nothing else works out, I might give them a try. Or if I need a system for my own use.
  • fsckVPS, similar to Linode, well specified machines, a tad more expensive but good value. They have a down to earth feel about what they are doing, no hype, just some guys doing what they like doing. All the locations are in the US, but the company is in the UK, which put them out of the picture for this situation.
  • SliceHost are “Built for Developers” and offer good packages at good prices. They have a good reputation in the forums (and host there own forums for support) and should be on anyones short list. US based, subsidiary of RackSpace, which is probably a good sign.
  • VirtuallyDedicated have excellent prices and good range of packages. They are US based with locations on the E Coast and Mid West.
  • xeneurope offer a Tb of bandwidth as standard, which is nice if you need it. Although offering that kind of bandwidth with the small package of 128Mb RAM and 10Gb diskspace seems like a pretty safe bet.
  • xencon.net offer probably the smallest package: 48Mb RAM with 5Gb disk but at an excellent €4.99/month. Try it for a month and cancel, although I’m curious as to what will run in that.I’ll write again if there is anything to report on how it goes with Xen.