This may not be a great site for this question. I basically have approximately 10 VPS instances running a secured website each, each with their own SSH connection to a hosted Database. What I'm looking to do is transfer these sites to a single server setup (minus loadbalancing, etc.), and have the sites be selected based on Virtual Host.

The network stack would be user > nginx > Passenger > Padrino, running on Ubuntu, with the usual security features, SELinux, fail2ban, denyhosts, ufw, tiger.

I've been trying to weight the pros and cons to this, and so far I'm at a loss, based on 2 key points:

  1. The system would be much easier to maintain, as I would have far fewer instances to keep up to date.
  2. If a breach does happen, it'll be a lot more catastrophic, as it will imply access to every hosted database, rather than a single one.

I can't tell if it's worth the risk, for the sake of saving time (Which I barely have) to keep it right.


You need to do a risk assessment for each site. and consider likelihood as well as consequences. It could be that some of your sites have a much higher likelihood than others. If this is the case, you could consider slightly modified approaches, such as keeping the high risk sites on their own system and only putting the lower risk ones on the shared system. While this may still result in higher maintenance than a single system, it may be less maintenance than 10 separate systems and may provide the efficiency you need.

Once you have a good risk assessment and have identified your proposed architecture, you then need to look at ways you can mitigate the risk. This includes not only putting controls in place that reduce the likelihood of a breech, but also controls which will reduce the impact i.e. make it less catastrophic. for example, frequency of backups, use of snapshots or any other technique which will make it easier to recover should a breech occur.

Once you have done all other this, then you can make the call as to whether the resudual risks are acceptable or not. This assessment needs to include your abiity to maintain whatever solution you decide upon. Essentially, your challenge isn't a purely technical one. Nobody can say that a single server is good or bad without also having information on the risks associated with each site.

  • I think I may have phrased my question badly, though you definitely gave me something good to think about. The sites themselves will all be equivalent, code-wise. It's the same basic product for each, sans styling. I didn't consider that larger clients would naturally be at a larger risk, though. – rp.kelly Dec 12 '14 at 11:24

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