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rants, ramblings and other things that make life worth living…

An Indian Startup for the Price of a Small Car.

with 3 comments

I am really interested in developing a web application and it has caught my fascination for a long time. The advantage with web applications is that you really don’t have to deploy them in the conventional sense. All you need is a domain name, a hot server and some kick ass internet connection. Being in India, its the third thing would give you more trouble than anything else. So, how much does it really need to get a system running. Though this a lot of armchair entrepruenership and might not be very practicable, but however whats wrong with spending sometime there?

So, for any startup you need an idea, and since ideas come by plenty (note, I am not saying good ideas come by plenty.) we won’t really bother about that. If you don’t have an idea, there is little point reading this post. You might ask wether do I have an idea yet, the point is yes and no. Yes because I think I have an idea, and no because its practicallity is highly invaluble unless its implemented RIGHT NOW. So thats basically our point 1, You need a good idea. So what now?

Next you need some hardware. But hardware here is cheap, you can get cheapo yet kick ass machines for an investment as small as say buying a small car. Infact, if you have the guts to build your own systems from scratch you can do way better with the amount that you would spend on a car. So lets actually do a small estimate of how much does it really cost. And for the model of a small car we wil take the much loved hyundai santro xing, and in India it costs approximately Rs.2,81,789 (according to the official site of Hyundai). So thats approximately 3 Lakhs we have in our hands and lets see what we can build with that money in terms of servers ready for web applications. Now, before we go ahead we need to look into what a machine for a startup would actually need, or rather the hardware software interdependancy. So lets make things simple here and assume that you’re web app would require 3 major software components – a webserver, an application server and a good database (assuming most data is relational). And with that we need 3 types of machines.

The machines running the Webserver and application servers need to give solid live performance in the sense that they need to be scalable. These are the typical types of machines where you would need a processor with a huge cache, clock speed as far as these operations are concerned is basically a moot point. The main bottle neck is actually your cache/ram performance and hence you need to a bit overboard about the RAM requirements of this machine. As far as processors go in terms of availability and performance (going per online reviews) the Intel Xeon HT Dual Core 2.8 Ghz with 2MB L2 cache is the most viable choice and that costs you around Rs.12400, add to that a decent mother board which would set you back by another 5000 rupess and we need as much ram as possible and these boards typically support a maximum of 4 gigs of ram which would costs around Rs.18400. The system would also need some nice hard-disks for disk based caches, a couple of 80 GB in hot-swappable raid should do (yeah, this is only your webserver remember). with a lots of swap space. All other accessories deemed necessary such as an ATX powersupply, a cabinet, the peripherals would cost you approximately another 7500 rupees. Add a couple of network cards to it and it would cost you approximately another 1000 bucks (remember you need 2 network cards for atleast one machine). So lets look at how much our webserver/application server would cost us.

Now that we have a kick ass webserver for approximately 54000 Rupees (actually the price here is kept slightly above bar, it can be made much lesser and it also doubles up as an application server). Now lets look at our second machine, what we need there is lots of hard disk capacity and harddisks are basically cheap there. We can use not so high end processor and we again need lots of RAM but a 1 GIG should do there, a system there can be constructed with approximately 35000 Rs. sans the Harddisks. As far as hard disks go, the fanciest thing you can get here are 300GB SATA harddisks which cost around 7650 Rs each and initially we won’t be needing too much space (if we have more users we might turn profitable and can use money from there). So we can set up a bunch of those SATA harddisks (say 4 for RAID level 2) and thats 30600 Rs approximately. So for a sum total of Rs.65600, we can build a really decent database server. we might also need a couple of other small machines for development and testing (these need not be that powerful we can make do with one of the cheap AMD Athlon 2000+ series, which you can get a whole machine for less than Rs.25000) and some power and network infrastructure to manage them all (Switches, gigabit ethernet, UPS etc..) which I estimate would approximately cost another say 75000 rs (another high estimate). So where does it leave our hardware infrastructure investment?

1. Kickass Webserver/Application Server – 53900.00 Rs
2. Database Server with 600G Raid2 – 65600.00 Rs
3. Development/Testing machines(lets say 2) – 50000.00 Rs
4. Network and Power Infrastructure – 75000.00 Rs

Grand Total – 244500.00 Rs.
Price of Hyundai Santro Xing – 281789.00 Rs.
Cash Remaining 37289.00 Rs.

Not bad, hardware for a small start up and some change too. And with a domain name costing approximately 500 Rs a year, its not a bad bargain after all. Now all we have to do is look for the kickass internet connection.

Signing Off,
Vishnu Vyas.


Written by vishnuvyas

November 12, 2005 at 3:43 am

Posted in Geeky Stuff

3 Responses

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  1. You know this post will reach huge hits in a few years time (of course, the prize changes.. but the fact remains the same) and make it into your most popular post.

    With fuel prizes increasing and some guy claiming he can turn water into an 70 % more efficient fuel than petrol (Which is not)we are still short of an alternate fuels to power our automobiles.

    In few years time, Santro’s and Corolla’s will be replaced by dedicated wiki servers and free webspace hosting houses. That is the day Iam going to socialize with people 😀

    - Intercodes

    November 12, 2005 at 11:20 am

  2. Hey, thanks for your insightful sarcasam,but the point of the post was not that ‘webservers will replace’ your Hyundai Santro, but “Kick-Ass Hardware infrastructure doesn’t cost more than the cheapest santro available’. Thats my point.

    But there are other things that make starting something like startup next to impossible in this country, espescially the intolerance to failure and in general the skeptical attitude of people towards such things.

    Vishnu Vyas

    November 12, 2005 at 5:04 pm

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    March 14, 2006 at 10:38 pm

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