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  1. #1
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    Colocation Provider Misrepresentation

    I was contacted by one of our customers about seeing some pictures on another providers website regarding some new UPSs (Powerware 9395) we installed. When I took a look it was of course pictures of our UPSs in our data center. Since then the provider has taken them down (very cool, thank you) How prevalent is this? Is this pretty common? I know we all probably take pictures of common things off the internet, but this one seems like a blatant misrepresentation of actual equipment. I guess I'm just curious about others thoughts and experiences in this regard?...

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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spudstr View Post
    Just because they don't have it in one building doesn't mean they have it in others? I know lots of datacenters that use various brands of equipment for the same purpose.
    Not sure that I catch your drift, but I guess if they had it they wouldn't need to use our photos, or at least they would use the manufacturer photos of the equipment (we do that too).

  4. #4
    It is common, but it is also annoying. I won't allow any pictures on our site that aren't in our facility. When I see others using clip, or "borrowed", art I laugh. I had small Dallas provider that showed a picture of one of our cages for years. It works well when you compete against someone stealing your pics. You just say, "See, even they think our stuff is better than theirs."

    In my opinion you should not put pictures of someone else's facility on your website. It is done to give the impression to the prospect that you are something you are not. That is dishonest.
    Looking for next opportunity

  5. #5
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    I'll never forget the day I saw a photo of our facility being used in a magazine advertisement(!) for a major shared webhosting provider (who you have all heard of.) It was a shot of some particularly well-groomed ethernet cable.

    So yes, it is quite common. As others have said though it is rarely malicious so much as it is just laziness on the part of others. Google image searches find exactly what the guy making the ad or website needs and they snarf it for their ad or website. You can either get outraged or you can view it as flattery, your call.
    --chuck goolsbee, Prineville, Oregon, USA
    Please note: I no longer work for digital.forest in Seattle, WA, as I left them in early 2010 to pursue an amazing opportunity at an amazing datacenter project elsewhere... I do not speak for digital.forest here. However I still know they provide the best colocation in the Pacific Northwest.

  6. #6
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    It might just be that they do have that equipment installed but just needed a picture and carelessly used yours.

    I try to make sure our hardware is branded and correctly labeled. Then if they use our pictures, well they'd actually be advertising us.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by digitalforest View Post
    I'll never forget the day I saw a photo of our facility being used in a magazine advertisement(!) for a major shared webhosting provider (who you have all heard of.) It was a shot of some particularly well-groomed ethernet cable.

    So yes, it is quite common. As others have said though it is rarely malicious so much as it is just laziness on the part of others. Google image searches find exactly what the guy making the ad or website needs and they snarf it for their ad or website. You can either get outraged or you can view it as flattery, your call.
    You, of course, turned around and demanded that they provide you with payment for the use of your copyrighted photos, right?

  8. #8
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    We've had customers lift both images and copy from our website to describe the data center they're equipment is in. I don't mind if they give us some credit.

  9. #9
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    I've not had this with images, but definitely copy. I've seen large chunks of our marketing and website copy show up on competitors websites. It's just lazy and disrespectful.
    Isaac Helgens
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  10. #10
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    I've found it to be very common for shared hosting from the small to the large, and a disproportionately high number of smaller VPS/dedicated providers to happily talk about "their" datacenter, sometimes as an almost exact copy/paste with images, of the provider they're actually hosted with.

    The twist to it is, technically, they're not telling the customer any lies aside from pointing at who "owns" it. In the end it is an Tier-# facility with XXX Gbit uplinks to XXX providers and here's some pretty pictures of the generators and cabling in the DC your server is hosted in.. all true, aside from the ultimate owner/manager.

    But even the big guys can be semi-guilty of this; I've seen larger dedicated providers talk about "their" DC when they are in fact a colo customer, OR they DO manage the building, but don't actually own it (or the generators and such providing redundant power to it), merely lease and have a landlord who is ultimately responsible for at least some aspects of building maintenance (things that do affect server uptime).

    So in the end, it's mostly harmless, I'd say. In the end the customer isn't getting fed lies about WHAT and HOW his server is hosted, only some run-around on WHO is doing what.

    edit; Obviously it's a different story when they're showing pictures and talking about datacenter's they're NOT hosted in (especially when where they are hosted isn't nearly as good a facility).

  11. #11
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    I have at least a couple colo customers using my employer's artwork and specs on their own website, representing it as "their datacenter". It hasn't bothered me. The Internet is very big, and there are so many providers that it seems less likely that they would be bidding against us for a particular customer, and more likely that their successful business will increase the size of their colo with us.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nex7 View Post
    But even the big guys can be semi-guilty of this; I've seen larger dedicated providers talk about "their" DC when they are in fact a colo customer, OR they DO manage the building, but don't actually own it (or the generators and such providing redundant power to it), merely lease and have a landlord who is ultimately responsible for at least some aspects of building maintenance.
    It would be funny for someone to complain that EQIX can't refer to it as "their datacenter" because DLR owns it

  13. #13
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    I guess its more of laziness to actually take pictures and edit them or something like that to get perfection. Why work hard when u have things already available on internet ;-)
    IPStrada When uptime counts.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by IPStrada LLC View Post
    I guess its more of laziness to actually take pictures and edit them or something like that to get perfection. Why work hard when u have things already available on internet ;-)
    Because that pictures look better than the real thing.

  15. #15
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    Agreed, when it comes to our own customers they can use anything they want. However, when it comes to other facilities or people colocating in other facilities I don't feel the same way. I know this is highly prevalent and yeah it is easier to just take someone else's pictures and represent them as your own. However, in this case it was impossible for these guys to have that gear. There are a handful of deployments (Microsoft, ourselves, and a few others) who have this gear in production because it is very new. If it was a Cisco router I would probably tell them they could get a better picture from Cisco.

  16. #16
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    We have a few customers that run dedicated boxes or VPS out of our facility and they "borrow liberally" from our description. That's fine by me if it helps with their business. The better our customers do, the better we do.

    We even have a couple of guys renting sub-$700 cabinets from us and using pics and descriptions of ours to sublease space in their cabinets for a pretty good markup. That one amuses me! But we have yet to encounter anybody that has come to us because they found the same picture or text on our website and are upset they've been "overpaying." So more power to 'em!
    Chris Gebhardt
    VIRTBIZ Internet Services
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  17. #17
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    Imitation is the highest form of flattery!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nex7 View Post
    But even the big guys can be semi-guilty of this; I've seen larger dedicated providers talk about "their" DC when they are in fact a colo customer, OR they DO manage the building, but don't actually own it (or the generators and such providing redundant power to it), merely lease and have a landlord who is ultimately responsible for at least some aspects of building maintenance (things that do affect server uptime).
    So you would say then that Equinix does not have their own data centers, since they do not own any of their US facilities?

    To me, if the entirety of the space is yours and the equipment in place is dedicated to your use, it is your facility. Who actually owns the property does not really matter in most cases. Even then, the facility would be "owned" by bank that has the mortgage on the facility anyway, etc...
    Karl Zimmerman - Steadfast: Managed Dedicated Servers and Premium Colocation
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  19. #19
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    Karl,

    I agree with some of what you are saying. However, there is a tangible benefit to a colocatin provider owning the space they occupy and having control of the equipment and the building and all the infrastructure that goes with it. A bank has no control besides receiving payment. A landlord can mess with the operations of a colocation provider who rents space because they can influence uptime characteristics of the colocation provider through their actions or lack thereof.

    This is not meant to be finger pointing but look at the Fisher Plaza incident where you have some premium providers who went down because of problems with backbone power distribution that fell under the jurisdiction of the building management. Whether it be lack of maintanance, poor physical planning, etc. these things can and do have an impact.

  20. #20
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    Adam touches on our exact situation a few years ago. We had been leasing and reselling colocation in some fairly recognizable multi-tenant facilities in Dallas. Mention Dallas telecom hotel and we've been there. And in each location we've had failures that were legitimately out of the colo provider's control. The problem is when you have to wait on building management to, for instance, repair a power riser or sort out confusion with contractors in the MMR that is causing an outage, that's a problem. The colo provider doesn't have any direct control over the situation, and while they'd like to restore service every bit as much as you, are powerless to do so.

    After a couple of key acquisitions a couple years ago, we were in the position to be able to purchase our own property. We are 100% responsible for all facets of the facility (for better or worse!)

    That doesn't make us immune to any of the issues that could potentially plague a facility. Anybody who tells you they're just 100% immune to any failure is either sadly misinformed or a bad liar. But at least we have the ability to take charge of any situation and not be reliant upon some unrelated 3rd party or middleman. That works for us and our customers.

    That said, I know that we've lost some potential business to customers that just seem to feel better being in one of the larger multi-tenant facilities. A "safety in numbers" philosophy. So it cuts both ways.
    Chris Gebhardt
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  21. #21
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    But as in our facility, just as with Equinix, the building does not provide building-wide redundant power. Each individual tenant is responsible for their own power infrastructure, their own UPS systems, their own generators, their own HVAC units, etc. and are responsible for how many of the three independent feeds from ComEd that they use. Saying you're in a building you don't own doesn't mean the landlord has control of your infrastructure.
    Karl Zimmerman - Steadfast: Managed Dedicated Servers and Premium Colocation
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  22. #22
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    That's a good point, Karl and something a potential customer would probably want to do their due diligence on then decide what their comfort level is.
    Chris Gebhardt
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    But as in our facility, just as with Equinix, the building does not provide building-wide redundant power. Each individual tenant is responsible for their own power infrastructure, their own UPS systems, their own generators, their own HVAC units, etc. and are responsible for how many of the three independent feeds from ComEd that they use. Saying you're in a building you don't own doesn't mean the landlord has control of your infrastructure.
    That is pretty cool, I haven't seen it done that way. I'd be interested to know how the switch gear is setup so that the multiple generators each associated with common distribution point (main service distribution board) are kept from running through the main service feed... you get my point in that you obviously aren't paralleling generators if they are local to each setup and you can't have multiple generators feeding a common bus if they aren't paralleled together.

    Just a guess here but you are probably taking service downstream with your switchgear from the city feed which feeds into a building main breaker disconnect with a distribution board where the mutiple tenants tap off from. Small point here, and not very valid, but you are still relying on electrical equipment supplied by the building owner. Also, who manages the common equipment? Are all three tenants responsbile for showing up to an emergency if the main breaker fails and how selects the electrical vendor? The point is that you still have pieces of distribution equipment out of your control. This point is pretty weak though considering that your switchgear and the fundamentals that will allow you to stay up are under your control

  24. #24
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    151 Front St., which is pretty much the primary carrier hotel in Canada for much of the nation's traffic, is also like that. You put your own generators on the roof, and HVAC if you want it.

    The facility's primary cooling system, though, which most tenants probably use by default, is the City of Toronto's deep-lake cooling system.

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