Hosting Downtime and The Customer

Posted 7.8.09 by

Yan Ness weighs in on the discussion surrounding Rackspace’s recent outages

The Poor Customer

You can’t simultaneously stand up for Rackspace’s (RS’s) and claim you’re customer-centric.

We feel terrible for the many customers who were promised and sold uptime (self-healing networks, world-class data center etc.) only to have power to their servers lost. Our hearts go out to them. We do not feel sorry for RS and we think it’s an arrogant and self-centered to do anything but talk about the appropriate damaging of credibility to the entire industry.

Every vote of confidence for RS in this event is a vote AGAINST the customer and against the industry as a whole. We as an industry have to hold ourselves accountable for uptime or the entire industry will wither.

It’s not just RS customers who suffer when they have an outage. All of us lose too. How? Because the pie (the market) is growing faster than any of us can take clients from each other. That’s the good news. Unlike really competitive industries (airlines, telecom, automobiles) we don’t have to worry too much about trying to eat each others’ slice of the pie when the pie is growing. So, when RS, the “gorilla” in the industry, with by far the largest balance sheet on the planet in this market has multiple power outages, everyone asks “Maybe we should bring our servers back in house. Heck if RS can’t deliver power reliably how can anyone else? Maybe it’s just not a good idea.” The pie stops growing and all we can do is begin to go after each other’s slice of the pie.

When the biggest dedicated provider of managed servers to the world can’t keep the power on the entire industry hurts. We should be irate with RS and their failures, not apologizing for them. I feel sorry for their customers but not for RS.

So are we pissed at RS? Yes. Should they be incredibly contrite, apologetic to all us competitors and all our clients as well? Yes. Without customers, there is no RS, no Online Tech and no managed hosting industry.

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