How many eCommerce platforms are there on the market? 10? 20? Three dozen? A hundred? We don’t know the exact number, but we know which ones are rocking and which ones are downright horrible.
Most eCommerce platforms are written in PHP. Not a surprise there. But even among the awesome platforms, things are not always equal. Flexibility, API availability, plugins, and community support all make a difference between winners and losers.
For many Ruby on Rails developers, they have Spree Commerce and a few other solutions. But what if they don’t want all bells & whistles but instead want something closer to the bare metal? It has to be sufficiently sophisticated to have all features of an eCommerce platform but won’t hinder developers from doing what they want with it. Sort of a canvas.
For people who want such flexibility, RoR eCommerce is exactly for them. Developed using Ruby on Rails, RoR eCommerce gives you everything a developer wants, and nothing they don’t need. Sure, it doesn’t come being all pretty like Magento or WooCommerce but for developers, those things don’t matter.
Since RoR eCommerce is developed using Ruby on Rails, you have to host it on a hosting environment with Rails already installed. It requires RoR 2.0 or above. It will work on a shared hosting environment, but it might be slow since all resources are shared. So we would recommend that you use a premium Shared host that doesn’t overbook their servers or a VPS.
The Best 5
- VPS.net : The leading cloud VPS specialist with 18 datacenters around the world,
- A Small Orange : A Business Shared hosting and affordable managed VPS plans with Ruby on Rails support,
- Eleven2 : A Shared and VPS provider with RoR 4.0.4 support on VPS,
- Site5 : A Shared and cloud VPS provider who has 20 datacenters around the world and RoR on their Shared hosting and VPS plans,
- A2 Hosting : A Shared and VPS hosting company with Ruby on Rails support on both Shared and VPS plans.
Read more about them after the break!
Winner – VPS.NET – From $20/month
While some may prefer Rackspace or Amazon AWS, for us, we prefer VPS.NET when it comes to cloud VPS hosting. They offer a line of elastic cloud VPS plans at affordable prices and backed by a network of 18 datacenters around the world.
As the name suggests, VPS.net offers only VPS hosting and they specialize in Cloud VPS hosting. Cloud VPS servers can re-size on demand without reboot while remaining online.
The extra care they give in providing only high performance services can be felt throughout your time with them. Since you can spin up their VPS servers in only 55 seconds, you can easily set up a cluster of servers for a high availability configuration. This is perfect for a high traffic e-commerce site. They also have an automatic scaling service called Elastic Cloud Hosting which essentially allows you to scale your system resources up and down.
This ability is often advertised as “auto-scaling”, “auto-healing”, “elastic service”, and so forth. Capacity expands to meet heavy demands and cloud servers can take over if your main server goes down.
VPS.net claims 99.99% uptime, which ought to be realistic for a Cloud VPS host. Besides the special requirements for Rails 4.0.4 hosting, the worldwide array of datacenters is important to any business who needs to conduct e-commerce around the clock.
VPS.net has an impressive network of datacenters all over the world. In combination with their cloud technology, it makes VPS.net a fantastic choice. Here is the complete list of their datacenters. You choose your server’s location when you sign up.
- Asia: Tokyo, Singapore, New Delhi
- Australia: Sydney
- UK: London, Manchester
- Europe: Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt
- South America: Sao Paulo
- Canada: Montreal
- US: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Washington, D. C.
VPS.net has a huge selection of plans; the unmanaged cloud VPS is is a great balance between cost and capability. You get root access so you can use the instructions for installing Rails 4.0.4 (or above).
Unmanaged Cloud VPS Plans
Here are their plans in the $100/mo and below range:
1. Full management is a $69/mo option.
2. The cPanel is a $10/mo option.
VPS.net describes these plans as “semi-managed”. That means:
We make sure we are here for you. We provide 24×7 support via live chat, email and phone. Should you have any problems with the software that comes with your server then we can help you out with the basic free of charge. More complex issue may require our paid for Fully Managed support.
It seems that “semi-managed” means that they are there to assist but you are the primary system administrator, not them. For many people, this is a good balance since a VPS customer is often an experienced webmaster and can handle all the routine tasks themselves. Unmanaged and semi-managed plans are cheaper than a fully-managed plan, so semi-managed or unmanaged is smart if you are ready for the responsibility.
The VPS.net plans are upgradable in units that they call “nodes”. You can add additional VPS nodes to scale up if you want. The additional system resources will be multiples of the basic node. You can scale up or down without any downtime.
VPS.net also has a strong line of managed VPS solutions, but an unmanaged cloud VPS is all you need to host RoR Commerce. Check out their managed plans if you wish to indulge.
2. – A Small Orange – From $20/mo
Founded in 2003 in Atlanta, their mission statement is to provide the best quality service at an affordable cost. They claim 99.9% uptime and offer an unusually generous 90-day money-back guarantee. They do have a long term policy of not overbooking their shared servers and a good rep among the geeks for that and for quality technical support.
A Small Orange (ASO) has outstanding Shared hosting and Managed VPS plans, but their line of Business Hosting plans is of special interest to us. These are affordable Shared hosting solutions that are configured for e-commerce right out of the box.
Business Shared Hosting Plans
They have three Business plans: Startup, Small Business, and Enterprise. Here they are:
|Plan||Storage||Bandwidth||SSL Cert.||PCI Comp.||Price|
1. Storage is on high speed mechanical disk.
Cloud VPS Plans
ASO’s prices don’t necessarily stand out — until you learn that this is fully-managed Cloud VPS hosting that uses 2.5GHz Xeon CPUs and SSD storage. If you shop around half as much as we have, you’ll see that these features can easily add an extra $50/mo to the base charge. This is especially true after you throw in the cPanel. It is included in ASO’s VPS plans. Since a panel is included, be sure you specify enough additional horsepower to manage the interface.
With root access, you can install Rails 4.0.4 according to these instructions.
1. The cPanel is included.
2. Each core is equal to a 2.5GHz Xeon or better.
3. Plans include 24/7 tech support & 90-day money-back guarantee.
3. Plans include SSD storage in RAID-50.
4. Backups are included.
They have a premium “Managed SEO Services” plan as a high cost option. It is only for business and promises to hand tune your site for maximum SEO.
Environmentally friendly technology is being used by ASO for its datacenters. By using a reproductive power management system, they are adding 1.5KWh to the power grid for every 1KWh used by their hosting servers.
3. – Eleven2 – From $16/month
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Los Angeles, they have datacenters in Dallas, Asheville, NC, London, and Phoenix, but the datacenter for their VPS plans is in Los Angeles. So, if you need to have your server in Asia or Europe, then check out a host like VPS.net or Site5.
Their service is backed by at 60-day money-back guarantee, double the industry norm.
Their shared hosting plans support Ruby on Rails and it is available on VPS and Dedicated servers.
Shared Hosting Plans
They don’t try to compete in the “unlimited everything” rat race; rather, they set generous limits on RAM and storage on all but their cheapest plan. The entry-level plan, which is only available by the year (it comes out to $4.95/mo), gives you 10 GB storage. The next plan up is $10 (month-to-month) or $8/mo with an annual prepayment. It gives you 250GB storage! This means that for only $3/mo more (annual prepay) and you get 240GB more storage! That’s a strong message that they are trying hard to steer customers toward the more expensive plans.
Here is their price sheet for Shared hosting.
|Name||Storage||Bandwidth||SSL Cert.||Ded IP.||PC Comp.||Price|
These prices are for a 1-year prepayment.
For the S-100 and S-200 plans, the SSL certificate and dedicated IP address are extra cost options. Both are included in the S-300 and S-400 plans. All the plans include the Cloudflare cloud-based CDN.
Our recommendation is that you choose one of the higher priced plans that will meet your needs comfortably. In fact, the S-200 plan is so generous that you should be thinking about getting a VPS if you really need more bandwidth. Twenty Terabytes is a huge amount of traffic for a $10/mo shared host.
Eleven2’s VPS plans are fully managed. All their VPS servers are in their main datacenter in Los Angeles at the present time.
The prices include the cPanel/WHM panel which is often an option. They do have SSD but the SSD is used currently as high-speed cache, with mechanical disk storage.
The prices are month-to-month; they offer a 10% discount for an annual payment.
4. Site5 – From $11.95/month
Site5 has been in business for more than 15 years and is one of the most successful hosting companies. Site5 is the home for over 200,000 domains and 250 servers. They have a worldwide network of 20 datacenters that run shared, VPS, dedicated, and reseller servers. Here’s the locations of Site5’s datacenters.
- Asia: New Delhi, Singapore
- Australia: Sydney
- Europe: Amsterdam, Bucharest
- UK: London
- Canada: Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver
- South America: Joao Pessoa, Sauo Paulo
- US: Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Miami, Atlanta, New York, Washington
Their main datacenter is in Dallas, but you can request another location when you sign up. Other datacenters charge a bit more per month. This means that your server will be close to your customers, no matter where they are!
Sit5 has a 45-day guarantee on their Shared hosting plans and a 15 day money back guarantee for VPS . Their guarantee for VPS is different since they need to custom configure each VPS as part of the signup instead of just assigning you a Shared slice on a big server.
What’s almost unique is that they do have a 30 day free trial account! It’s available for Shared and Cloud Shared plans. If you want to check out Site5 ahead of time, we suggest that you take them up on their 30-day free shared cloud account.
Site5 is among very a small group of hosting companies that offers a customer support Service Level Agreement. The SLA states that if a customer does not get a response to a support inquiry within 24 hours, his account will be credited as a token of apology. This is both commitment and confidence.
Their Shared hosting plans have Ruby 1.8.7 and Rails 2.3.3 installed server-side.
Overall, we feel Site5’s shared hosting environment is powerful enough for small RoR Commerce sites. If you want an upgrade, you can choose one of their cloud hosting solutions. Their cloud solutions guarantee a very high level of uptime, better load balancing, and location redundant.
Shared Hosting Plans
Their Shared hosting plans are priced at $4.95, $8.95, and $11.95 a month. The $4.95 plan permits only one site but the others are unlimited. Only the $11.95 plan comes with a dedicated IP address. All the plans are provided with an SSL certificate, but if you intend to use your Shared hosting site for eCommerce, the $11.95 plan is our recommendation. If you go for the $8.95 plan, you’re going to have to fork over another few bucks for a dedicated IP address anyway.
Cloud Shared Hosting Plans
Site5 has an interesting premium-level Shared hosting plan that delivers the advantages of Cloud hosting without the price penalty of a fully-managed VPS. They call it Cloud Shared Hosting. Like a VPS, it has storage and bandwidth limits, but it comes with the uptime advantages of cloud hosting. They cite a 99.99% uptime statistic, but a true cloud really shouldn’t be going down at all.
The Cloud Shared Hosting plan is available only at the Dallas and Amsterdam datacenters.
A dedicated IP is included, as is their 45-day money-back guarantee.
The Cloud Web plans are designed with fully redundant backup components with automatic failover. It is designed for businesses that must be online 24/7 but don’t have enough traffic to justify the expense of a cloud VPS. Site5 guarantees 99.99% uptime for their line of Cloud Web hosting plans.
Site5 offers both managed and unmanaged VPS hosting plans. Their unmanaged plans include root access, choice of Linux distro, and optional panel and installer. This is all you need to install and configure Ruby on Rails. Their library of knowledgebase articles gives you plenty of info on how to do it.
Here is the price sheet for their unmanaged VPS hosting.
Managed Cloud VPS Plans
Site5 also has a line of fully managed Cloud VPS plans. Their prices include the panel, installer, and remote backups — but without root access. You can SSH into your server but you don’t need the benefits of full management to work with RoR Commerce.
The Cloud Web plans are designed with a fully redundant backup components with automatic failover. It is designed for businesses that must be online 24/7 but don’t have enough traffic to justify the expense of a cloud VPS. Site5 guarantees 99.99% uptime for their line of Cloud Web hosting plans.
5. A2 Hosting – From $5.99/mo
A2 Hosting, based in Ann Arbor, MI (“A2”), position themselves as a cutting-edge provider. They are consistently among the first to offer the latest versions of the core components of the LAMP stack. As is typical of their personality, they fully support Ruby on Rails on their line of Shared hosting and VPS plans.
They even have an official “Ruby on Rails” Shared hosting plan. It’s actually their “one-size-fits-all” Shared hosting plan, but written up to highlight their support for Ruby on Rails. The generic name of this plan is “Prime” and it is available with either mechanical disk or SSD storage. The latter is a $3/mo option.
Their excellent library of technical notes has dozens of papers on installing and configuring Ruby on Rails.
For their unmanaged VPS plans, they have a semi-automated installation procedure. They call it their QuickInstaller™. You invoke the QuickInstaller from the command line and choose the the desired option. The process is not as brain-dead simple as working with a GUI panel, but it is certainly simpler than a bare-to-the-metal command line install.
Unmanaged VPS Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting offers a full line of unmanaged VPS plans. If you’re serious about your RoR site, then this is a great place for you. As is the case with many companies, you can vary the values of several features to create a customized VPS for yourself. This table represents only some of the possibilities. This table is only for the lowest processor speed and mechanical drives. See the notes at the end of the table.
1. Bandwidth is $0.12 per GB after you reach 2TB.
2. These prices are for their slow processor, 600MHz. For a 1.2GHz processor, add $5/mo; for a 2GZHz processor, add 13.64/mo.
3. These prices are for mechanical disks; for SSD storage, add $5.00/mo.
Managed VPS Hosting Plans
A2 Hosting has a second line of plans for Managed VPS hosting. A managed VPS takes care of security updates and maintenance issues. Of course, installation of Ruby on Rails via their QuickInstaller™ is also available in this line of plans. You can choose to go with a managed VPS if you don’t want to be bothered with the sysadmin chores.
These monthly prices range from $32.99 to 65.99, not including SSD.
1. cPanel and a basic version of Softaculous are included; a version of Softaculous that includes WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal is $3/mo.
3. These prices are for mechanical disks; for SSD storage, add $10.00/mo.
A2 Hosting is an excellent hosting company that is widely known for excellent customer service and technical support. Their support of OpenVPN via their QuickInstaller™ is a nice touch.
RoR eCommerce is like a hybrid between a blank canvas and a set of legos. It has enough stuff for you to build upon what you want. Be it the new Millenia Falcon or a castle, you can build with it. In fact, RoR eCommerce itself is designed to be lean, flexible, and fast in development. All you have to do is go with a good hosting provider. If you want to find out other companies, then use hosting services comparison tool to find them and evaluate them yourself.