Is it about service or money?

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Why I moved from ThrustVPS to Linode for cloud hosting: An open letter

I’ve just moved the hosting for this system and all of the other sterndata.com web services from ThrustVPS to Linode, even though Linode is more than twice the price of ThrustVPS. When I first set up my virtual private server (VPS), I searched on price and settled on ThrustVPS for $15.99/month.  I got my systems up and running fairly easily and the folks at ThrustVPS were reasonably easy to deal with. Until today.

The first sign that something was wrong was a note in my email that the server had rebooted.  I didn’t reboot it, so I knew something was wrong.  I jumped into the site’s control panel and… and… and… it timed out.  Now, the site was completely unavailable.  I put in a “critical” trouble ticket on ThrustVPS’ site that the system was down. About an hour later, I got an email from a customer service rep saying “Please hold.”  That was over 12 hours ago. I’m still holding — whatever that means when it comes in an email — and the physical host server for my virtual machine is still down. There’s been no further communication from ThrustVPS.

I understand that bad things happen

I’ve run servers and system. I understand that bad things happen and you can’t always answer the question, “When will my system be back up?”  Heck, it takes time just to figure out what might have gone wrong. I can live with some downtime, especially because I made the choice not to purchase a service with any real guaranteed uptime, nor did I invest in any fault tolerant configurations.  

Don’t leave me hanging

The reason I’m dumping ThrustVPS is not that Something Bad Happened.  Rather, they left me hanging.   They completely failed to communicate.  They could have saved the business with a few simple sentences:

Our system, 14.xn.tx.damnvps.com, failed early this morning.  While we are still investigating the situation, we believe it was caused by xxxxxx.  Our engineers are attempting to xxxxxx.  We wil contact you again in one hour and apprise you of our progress. We apologize for the interruption in your service and thank you for your patience.

Had I received an hourly status update, I’d know that (1) someone cared and (2) someone was doing something. I’d have been rooting for the guys who had to come in to work on the Sunday before Christmas to put me back online.  Instead, they stayed silent.  Do they care? I couldn’t tell you.

So I said goodbye ThrustVPS, hello Linode

I’m doing a review of one of the sites on this server with a client tomorrow morning. I need to have a functional site.  The guys in the Chicago Drupal Meetup Group are big fans of Linode. It’s been on my radar since the initial search for a virtual private server.  The technology is good. I’ve had no problems with strange routing like I did with ThrustVPS. 

Yeah, it’s $39.99 per month. I’m hoping that the difference is in the support. The reviews are positive and I’m hopeful.

The moral is

The moral is that service keeps customers and communication, backed by execution, is a critical component of service.  When Bad Things Happen, don’t hide them. Tell your customers what’s going on. Be as honest as possible.  If they know you’re working hard, you’re making progress, and you’re keeping them informed, they’ll stay with you. If you tell them to “please hold,” they’re gone.

One Reply to “Is it about service or money?”

  1. 29 hours later, I got this response to my original ticket:

    We we’re [sic] alerted to a vulnerability in the virtualisation software resulting in us having to bring the nodes off-line resolve the issue and increase security. Your servers from the hostnode (14xntx) is working fine. If you have network issues further more, please try booting your VM from solus VM and then network issue will be fixed. We apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.

    That’s good to know, but they could have told me that 28 hours earlier.  Too little, too late.

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