Changes and Options for our Customers

Written by Chris Graves on January 3, 2014

On December 31st, as some of you are aware, we experienced the third connectivity outage since August at the colocation facility where some of our servers are at. As I’m sure you’ll agree, that is not acceptable, and I apologize for the trouble the outages at that facility has caused. This is the same facility that is used by companies such as HostGator, BlueHost and dozens, if not hundreds of other hosting companies.  We had faith that this would put us in good company. However, in my seventeen years since I’ve started MacHighway I’ve never seen a record that bad. Before August, I had only seen two outages in the history of our company. We now have in place a plan to deal with it. Please bear with me and continue reading, as some of this may seem unrelated, but it hopefully will make sense when you get to the end.

The company we colocate at, called UnifiedLayer, moved us to their new data center in June, as they were closing down the old colocation facility in Dallas. They promised greater reliability and better prices at this new center.  We had no reason to doubt them. They had always been reliable during the past six years we had dealt with them; but they handled the move improperly, and it caused a lot of problems. It was not done with the care and attention promised by their migrations team. We worked out the issues with the move as they were discovered, and there were literally hundreds of them. As for UnifiedLayer’s connectivity outages, they tell us after this last one on December 31st, they have the issues worked out at their new datacenter. I would expect a new facility to have its share of glitches; technology is not perfect, and even the best designed and planned projects run into problems.  So, it may very well be that things will be fine going forward, but perhaps not. There is no way to tell.

What we we need are options. Since the second outage in November I have been exploring options. I have investigated several other colocation companies, and explored the logistics of moving all of our customer’s accounts to one of our other providers. This is not a simple task. There are tens of thousands of accounts and  hundreds of thousands of email accounts. Each account is unique, as everybody that uses them is unique, and they each have their own settings. Even though server technology is very mature at this point, especially as compared to what it was 17 years ago, it is not perfect. Things can and will go wrong with a move, as demonstrated by that move in June. Given this, we don’t want to do another mass migration of accounts to another facility and impose that on you, especially since many of you had recently had problems with the last move.

Even if we moved everybody from one facility to another, there is no guarantee that the new facility won’t have problems. Maybe the alternative datacenter will suffer from the same growing pains as UnifiedLayer, or worse: instead of growing, they are shrinking, and will go out of business, and we’ll be forced to move accounts away. Any company, anywhere, no matter how big or small, will have issues. What matters is how they’re dealt with. So, back to those “options” I’ve been exploring.

We’re left with two options: One,  possibly traumatizing those same customers again with another mass move to another facility, or leaving them at UnifiedLayer and hoping for the best. It’s a tough choice, but there is a third option…

We want to allow you the opportunity to move to a new datacenter if you so choose. We have servers at other, completely different, datacenter providers and we will move your account over to those servers at no cost to you. A member of our core team, either myself, Tyler, Ryan, or Jesse will personally supervise the move. There are a few caveats, but if you go to this knowledgebase article you will find all the information you need to know to make it happen.

Besides our new datacenter, we have many other things we are working on to make your experience with MacHighway better

  • We’ve added extra people to our 24/7 security team to help monitor all the servers. The security issues on the Internet are ever-evolving and this expansion of the team will help us keep on top of it.
  • We’re going to be adding many new services and features, such as a vastly superior Sitebuilder, an improved Web App installer, and  we’ll be using Cloudlinux to improve server performance.
  • I’m planning a major change in the way we do customer support. I think we actually used to have it right back a few years ago.  As we grew, we adopted some practices of the larger companies, such as building a large call center, but I don’t think those really work. I believe the way we used to handle tech support was better, where we had a few highly trained individuals we invested in that worked very closely with myself, Tyler and Ryan.

So I’ll be posting information here and on Facebook as new things become available. This is my first post in a long time on the blog. I’ve been busy: working on plans, doing research and testing. You should expect to hear a lot more from me from now on.

I can’t really express in words how much I appreciate your business, but to say “thank you.” Here’s to a prosperous new year for all of us.

Sincerely,

Chris Graves
President and Founder
MacHighway.com