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  1. #1

    Going Dedicated - Unfortunately Not Ready For Prime-Time

    I've run a profitable site on a shared host for the last 7 years. It's outgrown their technology/bandwidth, so I wanted to move to my own dedicated machine. I built that site and enjoy all of its profits. I did all my homework. I'm definitely not a newbie (age 53 yr old). I went with a Layered/Acunett combination, which is the best pairing I can find, considering my limited unix skills.

    Here's what's happened since I purchased both programs. Its not a knock on them, I like both operations a lot. Its just that dedicated servers look more like a hobbyist solution if you don't have your own full-time, heavy-duty admin. That rules out 90% of the Net small business owners that have survived and prospered in the last decade. These are the folks looking to migrate now. All the Coca-Colas and American Express's already stand alone. At this point I believe that dedicated is just not ready for prime time, especially if you're running a small business that expects the Net connection to be as dependable as a dial tone, which it MUST be if you're fighting for each customer every day.

    So here is what's happened so far.

    - got machine set up on time. It immediately showed considerable packet loss. I spent 8 days back and forth with LT, after which they agreed to move my server to a different connection. The packet loss has stopped at my server, but that Level 3/Savvis interface continues to look frazzled and overworked.

    - acunett server hardening has been prompt and the folks there are very helpful. But their long outage yesterday scared the hell out of me. Yes their support desk stayed open, which I didn't know until finding the info here. Consider this from a customer standpoint. I hire them to keep my mission-critical site functioning and their site is down for hours and hours due to a dDOS attack. How am I supposed to feel about my own site having an access problem that needs management? "S** happens" isn't the best answer when your livelihood is at stake.

    - OK I configure WHM and get my accounts set up (I have two main sites) and start to upload files, finishing up one site yesterday. The same day the kernal is upgraded with instructions to ask LT to boot the server with the new kernal. Then my site access goes down and I get this note from LT:

    "This server is no longer booting or even prompting for a grub kernel selection screen. Unfortunaly we have been unable to gain access to the os on this server. At this point i would suggest a reload of the os on this server. If you would like we can slave the drive so you would be able to pull data. Please let us know how you like to proceed."

    So now I've given them permission to reinstall the OS. This means all the hardening work and file config needs to be done over again. Its insane after the work I've done already.

    Another observation reintroduces the fear factor. If a simple kernal upgrade forces a complete OS reinstall, how can I have any confidence I'll ever bring up a dedicated server site and not run into repeated access issues? I travel a lot, including from the western US to Europe. Even with a management company, I could be offline for 12-15 hours and find out my site came down and everyone in the food chain has been waiting for me to authorize some brain surgery on the machine or software.

    From a business owner's standpoint, this series of misfires has no acceptable solution.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK
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    Hi,

    First thing i must say is that i disagree with one thing.

    I'm definitely not a newbie (age 53 yr old).
    Just because your 53 years old it doesnt mean that you are better than an 18, 20, 30 or even 40 year old - some people might take offense to this. Would have been better just to stick to 7 years of experience.

    You might find that the internet access is important to you but it is also very important to any small business offering dedicated servers. The acts of one company shouldnt be used to judge all companies.

    I've found that dedicated servers are very good. However with anything i believe you cant expect 100% uptime from a single machine.

    If you want 100% uptime with no down time at all then you may want to look into load balancing.

    Purchase a couple of dedicated servers (in different data centres if you like) and place the site on both then load balance them.

    Its also very easy to find a company already offering this. For example in the UK, Fasthosts offer this solution for a low fee every year. It means that more than one server is hosting your site so its always online.

    Thanks, Steven.

  3. #3
    Its not about the acts of one company. My problems could happen anywhere. The duel solution isn't cost effective for a small business and also adds a cyncial element that says "don't believe our marketing material".

    I have no comment on your age issue. Its just flame baiting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    FL, USA
    Posts
    925
    Sound like you have had a string unfortunate issues. This sometimes happens on new server setups but things should smooth out quickly.

    I think too many people switch from reseller packages to dedicated without realizing what is involved. The see these low per month server prices and think, wow, I can get my own machine for just a few $$$ more.

    When you get your own box, you are now in control of your server. Along with the control, you gain a large set of tasks and responsibilities that were handled previously by your shared hosting provider. Depending on your server provider, some of all of these responsibilites may need to be handled by you.

    When we get asked about switching from dedicated servers, we often tell people to investigate how much outsourced system adminstration support will cost them. Often, the outsourced support can be as much as the server itself.

    If you search around, you will find that most reliable support companies will include some sort of monitoring and provide proactive responses to incidents. Policies vary from company to company. At rackAID, we have clients pre-approve spending levels to handle emergency incidents when designated contacts cannot be reached. Other firms have similar arrangments. There is a long list of companies floating around on the forums.

    Finding the right mix of support from your server provider, support company and yourself is key to keeping your operations running smoothly.

    We save you time, money, and frustration by handling the server management tasks required to run an online business successfully.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    From a business owner's standpoint, either you need to learn how to do this stuff yourself, or hire the right people to do the job. That's how Coca-Cola and AMEX have gotten to where they are.

    Dedicated servers are absolutely ready for prime time. I'm no spring chicken, but I jumped in the deep end before I had a good handle on things. I've walked in those shoes. I lived and learned. And yes, sh** does happen, and in technology, that is the answer to some situations (especially for those things that are utterly outside of anybody's control, like a DDOS).

    I think that there are two issues at play here:

    1. Your expectations for running a dedicated server are either ignorant, or decidedly unrealistic. I don't mean this as an insult, please don't take it that way. Simply put though, a person can't feel let down unless they set themselves up to be put in that position.

    LayeredTech is not a managed server company. It sounds as though you either need a managed server, or server admin to run your server for you. That is going to cost money. You picked LayeredTech, which is a doggone good company with great support for the things they support, but it's well-priced because their products are all self-managed. They are not going to run your server for you. Think of it this way: they provide a server, a slot in the rack, and a network cable. The rest is up to you.

    I will say this. A healthy box does not flat-a** die on a kernel recompile. Whether there was a hardware issue, an OS problem, a bad kernel, or a bad upgrade, doesn't matter -- something went wrong. I'd get that box reloaded and start over. Frankly I'd tell them to just pitch the old drive -- don't even hook it up. For all we know you were badly rootkitted and there's no sense in hooking possible holes back up to a fresh server. Just upload your sites from your safe backups/copies.

    2. There seems to be a lack of understanding about the reliability of the internet here.

    The internet simply is not as reliable as your dial tone. Period. If you want that kind of reliability, you need to lease a half-dozen servers in a half-dozen completely unrelated locales, set up load balancing and redundant DNS, and hire a couple full-time admins to sit there and stare at it 24/7/365. You will be paying through the nose, but you will have your dial tone.

    There is no such thing as 100% uptime, and anyone who has led you to believe that was telling you bald-face lies. Downtime happens for every site, every data center, every ISP, every provider. Plan on it and you won't be in for bad surprises when it rears its ugly head.

    From a business owner's standpoint (and yes, I do have multiple businesses, been in bricks-and-mortar retail for 9 years now, for example) there are risks and overhead with any aspect of business. The printer could misprint your phone number in a display ad. Your phone line could be taken out by a car accident a mile down the road. You could buy merchandise that you were sure would sell, and have it sit untouched for months. These are all business risks and they happen all the time.

    Well another basic risk of having a website, is downtime. It happens for any number of reasons, but in the end it doesn't really matter why. Downtime is downtime. Plan for it and figure it into your margins. Make contingency plans. Deal with it. Every business owner has to cope with it, welcome to the club.

    As for the series of misfires, I really think they are just that -- misfires. We've no way of knowing what is wrong with your server that it didn't come up after a kernel recompile, but no healthy box behaves that way so perhaps that is also an explanation for the packet loss. Sometimes things can be cagey.

    Get the clean server online and go from there.

    If you feel the need to have Acunett redo their work, cool, but understand it could have as easily been something that they did, that messed your server up. Make sure your kernel is up-to-date before putting anything live on the server, and I'd recommend doing so even before handing the box over to Acunett. I can't figure out why you're being released a new server that needs a kernel upgrade right away, but maybe you can fill that blank in for me.

    Your assessment is right, the only way to know a server is up, is to babysit it yourself. If you aren't in a position to do that, then you either need to hire it out (go with a managed server company, or hire a trusted third-party) or you will have to let go a bit and trust that it's staying up. Sort of in the same way that you go to bed and actually sleep at night trusting that your business can run itself for 8 hours without you holding its hand. Same concept.


    Anyway there's some perspective from someone who's been there/done that/is sleeping at night.

    Bailey
    Let's Connect on Twitter! @thatsmsgeek2u || Fighting mediocrity one thread at a time.

  6. #6
    Lovely. The kernal crashes the system, which it shouldn't do. Acunett says use a rescue mode and LT wants to charge 75/hour to fix something I didn't break.

    I have a better solution. I'm cancelling both services today and eating the setup fees.

    -----------------
    -----------------

    Acunett recommends loading rescue mode and booting into an old kernal. Obviously I need an answer on that before opening a new ticket with authorizations. Please advise.

    ------------------

    Sat May 21 2005 09:33AM by
    See my recent comment on acunett's recommendation.

    ------------------
    Sat May 21 2005 01:14PM by [email protected]

    Hello,

    Loading with a rescue disk is an option outside out limits of support. If you wish to have this done to your self managed server, there will be a $ 75.00 an hour charge. If you would like to go with our pay for support option, please reopen this ticket. Otherwise, please go to http://support.layeredtech.com and submit a reload ticket for your server.

  7. #7
    a better option would have been to purchase a dedicated server through a reseller of LT, such as resellerworkz.com I have a server with them and it is comparable to having a shared hosting account in as much as that they take care of absolutely everything for you.


    Good luck

  8. #8
    I did look at LT resellers. my concern is the only hurdle to opening this type of Net business is building a web site without too many spelling errors. not enough reputations built to get the confidence needed to let them into my biz.

    looks like liquidworks for me, although those nodes into lansing look a little overcrowded.

    Seriously I'm not trying to fan the flames here. Just frustrated. The tattered and scattered state of the dedicated/hosting industry is opening a huge opportunity for a WalMart or Blockbuster type category killer.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    256
    Originally posted by swingtrader
    I did look at LT resellers. my concern is the only hurdle to opening this type of Net business is building a web site without too many spelling errors. not enough reputations built to get the confidence needed to let them into my biz.

    looks like liquidworks for me, although those nodes into lansing look a little overcrowded.

    Seriously I'm not trying to fan the flames here. Just frustrated. The tattered and scattered state of the dedicated/hosting industry is opening a huge opportunity for a WalMart or Blockbuster type category killer.
    Walmart or blockbuster? You mean cutthroat prices with little to no service? I'm pretty sure that's what you've already gotten yourself into. Understand, if you want a fully managed server you have to BUY ONE. Which is what everyone is telling you.

    You're renting a car from enterprise and expecting joe's limo service. Nobody at enterprise is going to waste their afternoon driving you around because you don't want to pay what joe's limo service charges to give you a chaeffeur.

    You are fanning the flames by making blatant statements like "the dedicated industry is in trouble". No... you're just not clued enough to realize, people aren't going to give you something for free. The reason layered tech offers servers so cheaply is because they ARE NOT MANAGED. In order for them to BE managed, layeredtech or whoever else would be required to PAY SOMEONE TO DO IT. And paying someone to do that job means more money on their part, which is passed on to you, which is why MANAGED SERVERS COST MORE.

    You getting this yet? Or do you need 6 more people to repeat it for you? For being 53 and not a n00b you sure are a n00b.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
    Posts
    520
    Unfortuneatly this is just another example of how many small businesses today are getting burned by the hosting industry.

    You basically want three things out of your server.

    1) Uptime
    2) Good Support
    3) Good Price.

    If you are shopping around and looking for a bargain host you can forget either #1 or #2 it's kind of the general rule of thumb that you are going to only find two of the 3 things above at any one place.

    Just like everyone else has told you if you want a good server, good hardware (not some cheap box slapped together from sub-par desktop pieces), good network, and managed services you are going to pay for it. Otherwise you'll keep getting crummy service and crummy hardware and keep paying the < $150/month (guessing here)

  11. #11
    I did look at LT resellers. my concern is the only hurdle to opening this type of Net business is building a web site without too many spelling errors. not enough reputations built to get the confidence needed to let them into my biz
    but that's where research comes in, for example resellerworkz have staff in 3 different continents, if spelling skills were all you needed to organise that then everyone would be doing it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Originally posted by swingtrader
    I did look at LT resellers. my concern is the only hurdle to opening this type of Net business is building a web site without too many spelling errors. not enough reputations built to get the confidence needed to let them into my biz.
    I beg your pardon, but you obviously haven't done your homework, and I don't take well to being overtly insulted.

    If you had a clue to know what to look for in a good managed dedicated provider, and how to dig up a company's history and info, you'd have an idea of what actually makes a good host. And it wouldn't be so hard to find a good one, either.

    If you're settling for "overloaded nodes in Lansing" or whatever, well then you're getting exactly what you're asking for. Stop complaining.


    Bailey
    Let's Connect on Twitter! @thatsmsgeek2u || Fighting mediocrity one thread at a time.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    New York, NY
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    4,612
    Originally posted by swingtrader
    I have a better solution. I'm cancelling both services today and eating the setup fees.
    Now this just seems silly. Something went wrong on the kernel upgrade... it happens. It could have been a hardware problem, or a software problem, or any number of things.

    You bought an unmanaged server. To expect Layered Tech to fix it for you for free is a bit much. As they mentioned in their email, they can either do a free reload, or you can pay them by the hour for the additional support. $75/hr is quite reasonable, and you could expect to pay twice that at other data centers.

    The solution? Get a managed server, not an unmanaged server.
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    833

    sorry

    I am sorry to hear your challenges.
    I can understand as I was in about same situation before.

    Unfortunately managing a dedicate server is not a fun and easy job. Many server admin are no admin at all. These are reality.

    Why don't you discuss with your shared host to possibly come up with an upgrade path. This is more comfortable since you already with them and know them for a long time.

    Hope you overcome your situation.

  15. #15
    efarmer, no "abilities" of any server admin where questioned here at all, the server is unmanaged and the only reason i can see his wanting to cancel his services from acunett are because he got upset with the situation and, for want of a better dsecription, had a tantrum.

    Actually swingtrader, seeing as you brought it up, you only go spelling deep into a company to determine their reputation but are implying you have a knowledge of node architecture, particularly lansing's.

  16. #16
    I did buy a managing solution. There is a conflict with 3rd party management because the authorities are all delegated and that makes for "not me" problem when someone makes a boo-boo.

    BTW I'll complain all I want. I understand many folks here are industry owners, as opposed to "customers". I just happen to be on both sides. From the outside looking in, it is a fragmented industry in crisis. And one headed for an eventual shake out.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    833
    my reply was base on

    he subscribe to server provider/management company
    server had problem after kernel upgrade

    if he do his own kernel upgrade then no admin issues but if done by management company then it is a admin issue.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Flint, Michigan
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    Complaining is fine and you are welcome to do it, but you're also using company names in here that should not be around this type of speech. LayeredTech has a very good reputation on these forums for a very good reason, they give just what they promise and they do it at a great price. You are looking for a completely managed solution from a non-managed provider. Hiring a 3rd party to take care of your administration tasks is a good option, but it is not nearly the same as having somebody in the NOC to take care of any problems. Your 3rd party administration is going to have all the hurdles that you will have when it comes to working with your machine. There is a huge amount of dedicated owners without any type of 3rd party administration services that have 99.9%+ uptime on unmanaged servers.

    If you want everything done for you and feel that your site is "mission critical" start thinking about paying mission critical prices. IIRC iNet pays in excess of $20,000.00 a month for their cluster over at RackSpace, would you be willing to pay that much?
    Mike from Zoodia.com
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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    833
    Originally posted by swingtrader
    BTW I'll complain all I want. I understand many folks here are industry owners, as opposed to "customers". I just happen to be on both sides. From the outside looking in, it is a fragmented industry in crisis. And one headed for an eventual shake out.
    You have to understand here that most of the situations are user(market) driven. When there are so many people who want to pay nothing for something, business persons will create those products for this market. The market will continue to be this way as long as there is such demand.

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