What do you do when your service provider drops the ball

October 16, 2010 – 1:00 am

Do you have a web, internet, backup or other IT cloud service provider of some type?

Do you pay for it, or is it a free service?

Do you take your service provider for granted?

Does your service provider take you or your data for granted?

Does your provider offer some form of service level objectives (SLO)?

For example, Recovery Time Objectives (RTO), Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), Quality of Service (QOS) or if a backup service alternate forms of recovery among others?

So what happens when there is a service disruption, do you threaten to leave the provider and if so, how much does that (or would it) cost you to move?

A couple of weeks ago I was using on a Delta airlines flight from LAX to MSP returning from a west coast speaking engagement event.

During the late evening three hour flight, I was using the gogo inflight wifi service to get caught up on some emails, blog items along with other work items in addition to doing a few twitter tweets while flying high over the real clouds from my virtual office.

During that time, I saw a twitter tweet from Devang Panchigar (@storageNerve) commenting that his hosting service provider Bluehost was down or offline. This caught my attention as Bluehost is also my service provider and a quick check verified that my sites and services were still working. I subsequently sent a tweet to Devang indicating that Bluehost or at least from looking at my sites and services were still functioning, or at least for the time being as I was about to find out. Long story short, about 20 to 25 minutes later, I noticed that I could not longer get to any of my sites, low and behold my Bluehost services were also now offline.


Overall, I have been pleased with Bluehost as a service provider including finding their call support staff very accommodating and easy to work with when I have questions or need something taken care of. Normally I would have simply called Bluehost to see what was going on, however being at about 38,000 feet above the clouds, a quick conversation was not going to be possible. Instead, I checked some forums that revealed Bluehost was experiencing some electrical power issues with their data center (I believe in Utah). Looking at some of the forums as well as various twitter comments, I also decided to check to see if Bluehost CEO Matt Heaton blog was functioning (it was).

It would have been too easy to do one of those irate customer type posts telling them how bad they were, how I was dropping them like a hot potato and then doing a blog post telling everyone to never use them again or along those lines that are far to common and often get deleted as spam.

Instead, I took a different approach (you could have read it here however I just checked and it has been deleted). My comment on Matts blog post took a week or so to be moderated (now since deleted). Essentially my post took the opposite approach of going off on the usual customer tirade instead commenting how ironic that a hosting service for my web site which contains content information about resilient data infrastructure themes was offline.

Now I realize that I am not paying for a high end no downtime always available hosting service, however I also realize that I am paying for a more premium package vs. a basic subscription or even a for free service. While I was not happy about the one hour of downtime around midnight, it was comforting to know that no data was lost and my sites were only offline for a short period of time.

What does all of this mean?

There have been some widely publicized and discussed internet and cloud service related disruptions.

I hope Bluehost continues to improve on their services to stay out of the news for a major disruption as well as minimize or eliminate downtime for their for fee based services.

I also hope that Bluehost CEO Matt Heaton continues to listen to what his customers have to say while improving his services to keep us as customers instead of taking us for granted as some providers or vendors do.

Thanks again to Devang for the tip that there was a service disruption, after all, sometimes we take services for granted and in other situations some service providers take their customers for granted.

Ok, nuff said.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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