I’ve spent the last couple weeks moving off of my existing server(s) and into the cloud. Previously, I had been using my own Zimbra server, own SVN/trac install, and websites, albeit virtualized on a shared XEN server. The physical server all this was running on was some ancient second-hand single-core i386 Dell poweredge which never had enough RAM, cyles or bandwidth.
For this, I paid a friend of mine $30/mo. Recently, the fourth person in our arrangement dropped out and so our costs went up to $40/mo. Now, I had 768Mb worth of memory on the two virtual machines I had, of which I was only actually using one.
So I was paying $40/mo for a single VM instance I ran SCM and my website off of, and my e-mail. That’s dumb, since you can use private repos on Github for $7/mo, use Gmail for free (all things equal, webmail is webmail), and get a private VM instance on Linode for $17/mo.
So that’s what I did: I cut my costs in half over the self-hosted solution by putting shit online.
Now, if me and my friends had kicked in a lot more $ and gotten a real server, and split it that 1RU up more aggressively, then it would have been cheaper to do that ourselves. But nobody cared enough about that to make it work, so putting it elsewhere is cheaper.
Which is a generalized conclusion I’m willing to draw: if nobody cares, it’s cheaper to pay someone to do it than to muddle through yourself. If someone does care, then it’s invariably going to be cheaper to DIY.