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  1. #1
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    ServerMatrix has some strange DNS policies

    I've posted the following on the ServerMatrix forum here:
    http://forums.servermatrix.com/viewt...?p=51465#51465

    Has anyone encountered this with anyone else? I've worked with a total of 9 other server leasing companies (web farms) and have never run into such a strange policy.


    I have been leasing servers since 1995, but I am a new customer to ServerMatrix. We obtained one server from SM as a test case for migrating our other servers over to SM.

    I encountered a problem today which I have never encountered with any other server farm.

    Here is what occurred:

    1) I opened a ticket requesting 8 domain names to be added to ServerMatrix (we own 3 of them, 5 are owned by customers).

    Note that the customers have been notified that they must update their domain record at their registrar with the new ServerMatrix DNS servers (from experience, this can take several days for people to do after receiving their email).

    2) The ticket is updated with this message:
    "We apologize but we are showing that the following domains are not registered through you..."
    5 domain names were not added.

    I called ServerMatrix about this and they told me:
    (phouston-05/31/04-10:39):
    Client called and was advised that the actual owners must change entries on their registrar(s) to the planet. Once we see the change-then we will be able to add the DNS entries for him due to legal issues.

    First, I would like to point out that there are no Federal laws regulating this process. If anyone disagrees with me on this, I would like to pose the challenge to provide a reference to the exact law.

    No other server leasing company that I have ever worked with has had a policy such as this (I've work with 9 others since 1995).

    ==================================

    This policy creates some serious problems when attempting to migrate an existing server (containing customer domains) on to a ServerMatrix server. I was told that until the registrar's record of my customers reflected the update showing ServerMatrix's DNS servers as the DNS server reference, that they could not be included on ServerMatrix's DNS servers.

    This creates a period of time where the domain name is completely unavailable to queries on the net, as ServerMatrix's DNS servers are not yet prepared to respond to such a request.

    Another problem that this creates is that someone much continue to poll the domains to see if their registrars have begun displaying the new DNS server updates. If, for example, you had several hundred domains that you were moving, this would be far more than a simple inconvenience (especially since some customers will not immediately perform the update).


    ==================================

    Here is effectively what this policy produces:

    1) Customer updates registrar

    2) Once the registrar record reflects the new update
    ---> customer's domain is now not accessible via the internet

    3) Host must continue polling customer's registrar to determine if the update has been completed.
    ---> customer's domain is now not accessible via the internet

    4) Host issues ticket to ServerMatrix to update DNS servers
    ---> customer's domain is now not accessible via the internet

    5) ServerMatrix adds the DNS reference to their DNS servers
    ---> customer's domain is now not accessible via the internet

    6) Action (5) issues an update which propagates to other DNS servers (takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for completed propagation).
    ---> customer's domain is now not accessible via the internet

    7) Only now, does the customer's domain begin appearing to requests for that site.


    This is a VERY long time (far greater than 72 hours) for the customer's domain to be off line. If the DNS record were added to ServerMatrix's DNS servers in advance of the update being made to the registrar, the domain would be continuously available.

    Once the registrar record was updated (and it issued the DNS change) the global propagation would begin, and the worlds DNS servers would reflect either the old domain location, or the new domain location.

    In other words, locations which did not yet reflect the DNS update would point to the old server location of the domain name, the locations which reflected.

    And the customer would experience NO down time. There would only be a period where some visitors still accessed the old server, and others (who had the benefit of the DNS propagation update) would access the new server.

    ==================================


    Could someone at ServerMatrix please explain the reason for this policy?

    It is not as though someone with a DNS server could hijack a web site. For example, if I managed a DNS server, and issued the request that coke.com now point to my DNS server, the propagation would not occur because the registrar's record did not reference my DNS server (the registrar's record is where the primary enforcement occurs).

    And, please, if you suggest that it is a legal issue, please provide me with a reference to the actual law. as I do not believe that such a law exists.


    =============

    I am sorry for making this into a issue, but this policy adds a very large amount of work on the server leasee if they have a large number of domains to migrate. And that is because the leasee must constantly poll the status of each site and resubmit them as they are updated (which is not only labor intensive, but whose re-polling duration is dependent on how quickly each customer updates their registrar's domain record, and how quickly the registrar responds to the update request.


    Thank you,
    Tim

  2. #2
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    Re: ServerMatrix has some strange DNS policies

    Originally posted by Ishtaria

    First, I would like to point out that there are no Federal laws regulating this process. If anyone disagrees with me on this, I would like to pose the challenge to provide a reference to the exact law.

    No other server leasing company that I have ever worked with has had a policy such as this (I've work with 9 others since 1995).


    Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, SM/TP has a policy in place to regulate these types of changes. Coming in here isn't going to do anything for you.

    If you don't like it, move on and find another DC to host in.

    Best of luck.

    Sirius
    I support the Human Rights Campaign!
    Moving to the Tampa, Florida area? Check out life in the suburbs in Trinity, Florida.

  3. #3
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    Sirius,

    I think you misunderstood my intentions here. My purpose of posting this isn't intended to whine or attempt to force ServerMatrix to change their policies.

    I posted this because:
    Has anyone encountered this with anyone else? I've worked with a total of 9 other server leasing companies (web farms) and have never run into such a strange policy.
    Thank you for your reply, but it doesn't address my question.

    Tim

  4. #4
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    Originally posted by Ishtaria
    Sirius,

    I think you misunderstood my intentions here. My purpose of posting this isn't intended to whine or attempt to force ServerMatrix to change their policies.

    I posted this because:


    Thank you for your reply, but it doesn't address my question.

    Tim
    No, your post was intentionally that, or you would not have titled your thread:

    ServerMatrix has some strange DNS policies

    Like I said, I wish you luck.

    Sirius
    I support the Human Rights Campaign!
    Moving to the Tampa, Florida area? Check out life in the suburbs in Trinity, Florida.

  5. #5
    Originally posted by Ishtaria
    Thank you for your reply, but it doesn't address my question.
    ok.

    The policy seems more than reasonable. Are you any of the contacts on any of the domains? Without at least being the technical contact there is no way to prove that you are authorized to generate DNS for any of the 5 domains in question. It is not possible to tell if you are trying to hijack domains by using Server Matrix's DNS servers.

    As for whether or not other companies have this policy, I'll just say, I'd hope so.

    With all these servers you've been running since "1995" why aren't you doing your own DNS?

  6. #6
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    sirius,
    No, your post was intentionally that, or you would not have titled your thread:
    And how does that indicate that I am trying to whine about ServerMatrix, or contradict my question?


    brass,

    The policy seems more than reasonable. Are you any of the contacts on any of the domains? Without at least being the technical contact there is no way to prove that you are authorized to generate DNS for any of the 5 domains in question. It is not possible to tell if you are trying to hijack domains by using Server Matrix's DNS servers.
    Did you read what I wrote? I'm not talking about my changing, or the server farm changing, the registrar's record. This isn't an NS update that I am talking abou, it is a Zone update.

    It is NOT possible to hijack any web site without modifying the registrar's record. I am simply talking about adding the DNS reference to the server farm's DNS server (big difference).


    Tim

  7. #7
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    I personally don't see any rationale for the policy other than them not wanting to pollute their DNS with unused domains. That seems a strange trade-off for customer inconvenience. I must be missing something here.

    Edit:

    Actually, it might be for rDNS reasons. You get a server and spam someone claiming your IP is amazon.com or the like. But with a zero-tolerance policy for spam I don't see how that can be such an issue to justify the policy.
    Last edited by MetaData; 05-31-2004 at 06:14 PM.

  8. #8
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    I see the reasoning behind it. If someone obtained your password for your domian account login and edited your DNS would you go after the person who did it (which you may not know who if it's pointed at like ns.servermatrix.net) or would you go after servermatrix?

    It's called CYA. I won't say I full agree with it, but that is what it is.

    You also have to figure that most of Server Matrix's customers run there own DNS servers.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by ddihosting
    I see the reasoning behind it. If someone obtained your password for your domian account login and edited your DNS would you go after the person who did it (which you may not know who if it's pointed at like ns.servermatrix.net) or would you go after servermatrix?

    It's called CYA. I won't say I full agree with it, but that is what it is.

    You also have to figure that most of Server Matrix's customers run there own DNS servers.
    But if someone did that, and updated your registrar record first, and then issued the request that ServerMatrix update their DNS servers, the same thing would happen.

    The ServerMatrix policy doesn't solve that kind of problem (either way. Do you see what I am getting at here?

    Tim

  10. #10
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    I don't get it. You can setup yahoo.com, microsoft.com, or ebay.com on your own DNS, to be accessible through that DNS only. How does that in any way affect the real yahoo, microsoft, or ebay, to be a sufficient concern for server matrix?

  11. #11
    Originally posted by Ishtaria
    Did you read what I wrote? I'm not talking about my changing, or the server farm changing, the registrar's record. This isn't an NS update that I am talking abou, it is a Zone update.
    Yes, I did, but you seem to have not understood my point.


    If a DNS server has a zone for a given domain, queries it receives for that zone will always win. Say for example, Bob Customer calls support and requests that a zone be created for, say, darkorb.net. If support creates the zone and points it's records at the customer's system, all the cPanel customers using the same DNS farm get it have a little fun for a while, and not in a way the site's support organization would like.

    From a policy perspective it simply doesn't make since, logically, for a support director to set a DNS policy like, "Thou shall not make DNS zones for the following domains... but any others are ok if the customer says they're supposed to be his or his customers." Setting a policy that says, "Thou shall only make zones for customer whose real name appears in the whois record" makes more sense as it clearly scales beyond the current list of verboten domains.

    I'll ask again, are you a contact on any of the zones The Planet declined to add to their DNS servers? If yes, you probably have an argument and you should point such out to them. If you are not, your customer's should make you at least the Tech contact. You'll certainly have better luck this way.

  12. #12
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    Originally posted by ddihosting
    I see the reasoning behind it. If someone obtained your password for your domian account login and edited your DNS would you go after the person who did it (which you may not know who if it's pointed at like ns.servermatrix.net) or would you go after servermatrix?

    It's called CYA. I won't say I full agree with it, but that is what it is.

    You also have to figure that most of Server Matrix's customers run there own DNS servers.
    But if someone did that, and updated your registrar record first, and then issued the request that ServerMatrix update their DNS servers, the same thing would happen.

    The ServerMatrix policy doesn't solve that kind of problem (either way. Do you see what I am getting at here?


    Anyway, the chance of that occurring aree slim at best. ANd I don't see how forcing your hosting clients (the ones how actually own the domain names) to have anywhere from a 5 to 7 day internet unavailablilty is worth trying to prevent such a small security breach possibility.


    Tim

  13. #13
    please donot give answers to sirius

    what i see sirius try to be defender of all budget company.

    even they are wrong or faulty or any other he tries to defend them.

    so dont give him reply

  14. #14
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    I fully agree with Brass.

    And 2. It makes you take notice of the change if you are paying attention.

  15. #15
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    ddihosting,

    I pose this question again. Is this worth a 5 or 7 day period where your customer's domain name is completely unavailable on the internet?

  16. #16
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    We don't have that issue because we don't use there DNS.

    It would be too much of a headache to have to update someone else everytime we make DNS changes. Not worth the hassle. We run our own DNS and have recently centralized our servers to two DNS servers that automatically update.

  17. #17
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    I don't understand this policy and how would it create legal issues.

    Example: ibm.com

    Lets say today I decided to place ibm.com into my dns server and point everything to 127.0.0.1 and rehash my server. Nothing will change unless ibm.com makes those dns changes with the registrar. Until then it will work if someone query'd my nameservers for ibm but otherwise it would stand still.

    I recomend outsourcing your dns servers like your doing with the web servers. Run your own DNS.... And dont have to worry about the DC's
    Axcelx Technologies - James
    Boston Colocation | Boston VPS
    Massachusetts Server Colocation and Dedicated Servers

  18. #18
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    Originally posted by ddihosting
    We don't have that issue because we don't use there DNS.

    It would be too much of a headache to have to update someone else everytime we make DNS changes. Not worth the hassle. We run our own DNS and have recently centralized our servers to two DNS servers that automatically update.
    ddihosting,

    I'm happy that you use your own DNS server. But that doesn't address the issue at hand regarding this topic. Does it.

    Tim

  19. #19
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    The only problem that comes from this is as brass said.

    Anyone using your DNS will have a problem as they won't be able to see ibm.com anymore.

    I use the DNS of our servers so I can see the sites we have hosted prior to them replicating. And for other reasons.

    If I add a site to our DNS I can no longer see the originally unless I change my DNS configuration. This could create problems for someone as large as SM

  20. #20
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    I'm sure the sites he hosts are not yahoo.com or ebay.com or some million hit per day site. It shouldn't effect SM's clients
    Axcelx Technologies - James
    Boston Colocation | Boston VPS
    Massachusetts Server Colocation and Dedicated Servers

  21. #21
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    Originally posted by Ishtaria
    ddihosting,

    I'm happy that you use your own DNS server. But that doesn't address the issue at hand regarding this topic. Does it.

    Tim
    Actually it does. Because we use our own DNS we can see somewhat where SM is coming from.

    If someone registers a site with us anyone using our DNS to resolve will not see that site.

    Now take SM. Let's say I changed my local network config to use there name servers and you added a domain such as gateway.com

    Now I see somebody else instead of gateway.com. Let's say there are 100 people out there using SM DNS for there local config.

    All these people see this and one of them calls gateway and goes "I don't see your site, I see this?"

    Now you have a legal problem.

  22. #22
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    Originally posted by Crucial
    I'm sure the sites he hosts are not yahoo.com or ebay.com or some million hit per day site. It shouldn't effect SM's clients
    It's a Policy. This means if someone trys to do yahoo.com or ebay.com it stops them.

    Yes, maybe it seems ridiculous for some 50 hit per month site, but it protects them overall.

  23. #23
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    Now you have a legal problem.
    Your right on the button, but does he host gateway? or some MAJOR site?



    EDIT*

    I do however agree with you. and recomend he run his own dns =P
    Axcelx Technologies - James
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  24. #24
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    As I said, he may not be a problem. It's the ones who do try to pull this that are and that cause policies such as this to go into effect.

    The policy is to protect them on a company wide scale.

    My guess is someone did something like this before which pre-empted the policy.

  25. #25
    Originally posted by Ishtaria
    I pose this question again. Is this worth a 5 or 7 day period where your customer's domain name is completely unavailable on the internet?
    Thank you. Thank you for giving me the in to remind everyone here of certain realities of the Internet business.

    Customer service is first and foremost. With that said, most customers and customer support types see customer service one person at a time. Customer service is making each customer that calls happy.

    There are other parts of any organization that must consider customer support as being all the customers at once. This is that exact case.

    Do I make this one customer happy who wants zones set up for some domains, or do I decline to so on a few domains because the engineering folks will have my head if I improperly setup a domain that customer doesn't own and that is somehow important to some subset of the customer base?

    These are constant situations I'm confronted with everyday in my real job. I can't always make a single person happy if it irritates the rest of the universe. Great customer service is finding the right balance.

    Frankly, this is most of the basis of most of the legitimate complaints I see here. It's about threading the needle. Sometimes the decision annoys the single customer, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it annoys a great mass of customers. It's important to remember that the Internet still works as an overall collective. We must all cooperate and compromise to keep the system running. If we don't, the system will quickly collapse.

  26. #26
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    I just don't want the added expense of maintaining a DNS server, and I don't see the need to obtain a DNS server solely to get around a screwy SM policy. I don't have that many domains (most of what I am doing is software development), and only have about 20 domains that I host. And these are on another server which I was planning on moving to SM next.


    Something else, it occurred to me that this policy would effect anyone who was going to move their a web site (with an existing domain name), from one hosting service to a company leasing from ServerMatrix.

    A new client (again, with an existing domain name) would be forced to go through a 5 to 7 day period where their domain was completely unavailable ("server not found") before they would show up on your server.

    This could cause a lot of potential hosting business to go elsewhere.


    Is that what hosting companies using SM and their DNS servers are forced to go through? I simply can't believe that this is business as usual for them.

    Tim

  27. #27
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    Very well said Brass.

  28. #28
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    Have the domain owners use old and new nameserver's so the SM's and OLD will work at the same time once the move is 100% remove the old nameservers.

    ns1.old.com
    ns1.new.com
    ns2.old.com
    ns2.new.com
    Axcelx Technologies - James
    Boston Colocation | Boston VPS
    Massachusetts Server Colocation and Dedicated Servers

  29. #29
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    Originally posted by brass
    Thank you. Thank you for giving me the in to remind everyone here of certain realities of the Internet business.

    Customer service is first and foremost. With that said, most customers and customer support types see customer service one person at a time. Customer service is making each customer that calls happy...
    Brass, that was in regarding to EVERY web site that a leasee would have on their server located at SM. NOT (READ N-O-T) an isolated instance.

    What you are saying is that it should be accepted that every web site which is hosted through an SM leasee should have a 5 to 7 day domain black hole ("server not found").

    Tim

  30. #30
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    No, only regarding websites that the lease uses SM DNS.

    Big difference as many clientelle don't use there Name servers.

  31. #31
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    If SM's customers were anonymous to them this policy would make more sense but since everyone is vetted fairly rigorously it seems like overkill. I agree with Crucial that the means don't justify the end. A better approach IMHO would be to run a report of zones that do not match the credentials on the WHOIS server, and investigate those who are not updated within a day or two. I imagine they already have something like that just to clean out old redundant zones.

  32. #32
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    Originally posted by Crucial
    Have the domain owners use old and new nameserver's so the SM's and OLD will work at the same time once the move is 100% remove the old nameservers.

    ns1.old.com
    ns1.new.com
    ns2.old.com
    ns2.new.com
    Thanks. I don't really see that as an idea solution especially if the site is an interactive site.

    Every time I've migrated one of my interactive sites (where data is stored locally). I've placed a web page on the old one indicating that it will be unavailable for about one day or so.

    Then as the global DNS update occurs, users are taken to the new site which is then fully functional. It would be hit or miss in the case of having both the old and new DNS servers references in the NS record.

    And getting a client to go back and update their record again... It's hard enough to get them to od that, much less getting them to do it a second time.


    Thanks anyway for the suggestion.

    Tim

  33. #33
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    Originally posted by ddihosting
    No, only regarding websites that the lease uses SM DNS.

    Big difference as many clientelle don't use there Name servers.
    ddihosting, you're being elitist. Your "own your own DNS server" solution doesn't work for everyone.

    And I've never even had to face this issue until just gettinga system at SM. Why, WHY should I be forced to get my own DNS server to get around some stupid policy?

    Your replies are not addressing the problem of a policy which doesn't make sense.

    Tim

  34. #34
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    On a full company scale it does make sense and the reason has been said over and over again.

    If you want control of your own DNS so as crucial recommended and outsource to somebody like ZoneEdit.

    Then you can make all the changes you want.

    SM"s policy is in place to protect them. Somebody probably did what was said earlier in this post and caused them to have to CYA. So they put the policy in place.

    The other thing about your post is they said if you were listed on the domains they had no problem adding them. You could just add yourself as the technical contact as we do for all domains registered with us or transfered to our registration.

  35. #35
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    I wasn't talking about traffic. I was saying that what zone you add to some DNS server somewhere makes no impact on anything in the world. There's no security issue. None.

  36. #36
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    Originally posted by MetaData
    I wasn't talking about traffic. I was saying that what zone you add to some DNS server somewhere makes no impact on anything in the world. There's no security issue. None.
    That is wrong. You have to look at SM not only as a Server Company but also an ISP.

    You have to do this for the simple fact that many people use the same name servers in there local network configuration as there site is hosted on.

    Due to this adding a zone can affect everyone using that DNS to resolve domains.

  37. #37
    Originally posted by CyberBabe
    If SM's customers were anonymous to them this policy would make more sense but since everyone is vetted fairly rigorously it seems like overkill. I agree with Crucial that the means don't justify the end. A better approach IMHO would be to run a report of zones that do not match the credentials on the WHOIS server, and investigate those who are not updated within a day or two. I imagine they already have something like that just to clean out old redundant zones.
    Mostly because reactive policies do not work. They don't work because they allow the harm to be done to the system, and they don't work because they cost more man hours than proactive policies. Your suggestion proves this. Who is it that's going to recheck every dns request a couple of days after they are done? More head count is the answer.

    Further, let's go back to my darkorb.net example. cPanel depends on it's ability to actively talk to darkorb's network. It download patches, it syncs the time, it checks the license (I'm sure it does more I don't know about...). I don't need a few days to infect every cpanel system on a network with a trojan. I only need a few hours to get the density I want for my needs. Reactive policies won't work here either, because there is no way know what damage has been done when you find that something like this has been done.


    As for this policy causing domains to break that days on end, I simply don't understand why that is the case. When I have a zone, or a number of zones that need to be moved between dns providers, I do not change the registrar data until the new dns provider tells me everything is set right, AND I VERIFY IT. I never make changes until I know it's safe. If the provider declines my request for some reason, I'm not playing beat the clock to get the request right. That's just good customer service.

  38. #38
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    Originally posted by ddihosting
    The other thing about your post is they said if you were listed on the domains they had no problem adding them. You could just add yourself as the technical contact as we do for all domains registered with us or transfered to our registration.
    I can't add myself as a tech contact on someone else's domain. And asking someone else to do that (especially the "technically challenged") is more than a trying task.


    I guess it was good that I only moved a non-essential system over to SM. This was intended as a test case.

    I'm not willing to be forced to maintain my own DNS server, or pay a third party to do it when every other hosting farm I've ever did business with has handled it for me.

    I need to migrate several other servers off of a server farm which has gone from average to substantial. I was certain that ServerMatrix would be a good fit because everyone spoke so highly of them. Given the problem I've encountered, I think I'll try EV1 for the next test case.

    This absurd DNS policy problem is something that I don't find tolerable, and I'm not going to purchase additional resources just overcome it.


    Thank you everyone for your replies. I was hoping that someone tell me if they've ever encountered this anywhere else.


    Thanks again everyone,
    Tim
    Last edited by Ishtaria; 05-31-2004 at 07:59 PM.

  39. #39
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    Originally posted by brass
    As for this policy causing domains to break that days on end, I simply don't understand why that is the case. When I have a zone, or a number of zones that need to be moved between dns providers, I do not change the registrar data until the new dns provider tells me everything is set right, AND I VERIFY IT. I never make changes until I know it's safe. If the provider declines my request for some reason, I'm not playing beat the clock to get the request right. That's just good customer service.
    Gees Bass,

    "I do not change the registrar data until the new dns provider tells me everything is set right, AND I VERIFY IT. I never make changes until I know it's safe."

    This is exactly what I am complaining about. SM's policy makes this impossible to do!!!!!!!

    Are you really reading everything that I am writing here???

    Tim

  40. #40
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    It's called good legal sense. And I have a life and very happy clients.

    Also, 99% of the time if you do whois checks the technical contact is the hosting company.

    it used to be all hosting companies required this. Now it is down to a point that only certain ones require it.

    If you are not going to handle your own DNS or use a third party system. If you are going ot be migrating servers around you should already be handling your own DNS Zones. Not being able to update the IP's for the sites is not good.

    Personally, I would never go with a DNS option where I could not edit the zones directly. I.E. I decide to move a server I can change the zone to point to the new server.

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