Rackspace Downtime

[Update] My team at Rackspace has sent me the fluffiest, most comfortable pillow I have ever had.

When a hosting provider goes down, there are lots of questions that get raised. Is my host reliable? Will they flake out during crucial times when my site needs the traffic? Will they double bill me?

Since I have been working with Rackspace, they have had less than stellar uptime, with issues mostly related to power. My company pays a lot for hosting with them, and downtime for a young company is deadly. But oddly enough, I’m still OK with Rackspace hosting my company’s myriad services. The benefits of hosting with them have been so great that a couple hours of downtime is nothing.

First off, their SLA has provisions for downtime, when it happens. If your server has a legitimate issue, you’re entitled to ask for a credit. To me, this is a promise that they’ll put their money where their mouth is. And if you call them on it, they’ll be reasonable.

Secondly, their support during crises is still amazing. During the truck incident, I was able to get a tech to run fsck on my disks, and hang out to watch no questions asked. No, I am not on their intensive plan.

Third, their support culture is simply amazing. Their linux techs are always willing to look deep into an issue to find a resolution, and they provide much of the basic infrastructure that is hard to come by for small companies.. They’re also completely willing to educate their customers about the servers they maintain.

In short, Rackspace has been the target of a lot of criticism over issues in their datacenters. The fact of the matter is that there will always be issues and downtime. Their SLA guarantees the impossible, which they seem to realize, as any failure on their part comes with swift response. In the end their SLA seems to be more of a way of setting standards than anything else.

[Full disclosure: I haven’t slept in 2 days because of their power issues]

Nov 4th, 2009