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  1. #1

    Our experience with RapidSwitch Managed Rack Hosting

    About us first, we do cPanel shared hosting and also (however you want to put it) fully-managed proactively monitored dedicated hosting - due to this we need access to our equipment all the time so we host it locally.

    Ed from RapidSwitch contacted us via live chat on our website at the start of September to introduce the company, he offered us a rack from 650/mo, mentioned we could take it upto 32A power (obviously not for that price!).

    We're based in Maidenhead (in the town centre), 5 minutes walk from RapidSwitch and 5 minutes drive from BlueSquare, as we use power-hungry Dell PowerEdges and the DC is closer to us we thought we'd have a look.

    We arranged a tour. On the tour we were told about their dual diverse dark fibre, diverse power, how their staff support cPanel, how the rack would be fully managed by them but we'd be able to pop in anytime to do work, how they'd let us move in our kit during the night, sounded great.

    The following day the whole Poundhost vs RapidSwitch thing went down, soon after RapidSwitch themselves went down too, which was slightly worrying.

    We moved in, or tried to First time we asked for DC access it took 1 ticket, a wait of 60+ mins, then an angry phone call from me to get it sorted out, it was sorted out for the following day -- okay, strange? We moved in the next day.

    Some days later we decided to move some of our live kit at BlueSquare over to RS for the evening.

    4pm - I open ticket saying I need access to rack some live servers as per our verbal agreement when I signed up, and I get a reply saying No, as they don't accept hardware or visitors outside the hours of 8am - 8pm Monday to Friday.

    4:30pm - I phone Randeep (sales guy) and talk to him, he talks to a Manager, arranges an exception, says a note will be put in my account regarding tonight and the other server moves we had discussed before I signed the contract.

    4:50pm - I follow up this ticket to make sure they're ready.

    8pm - Again, I follow up this ticket to make sure they're ready.

    8:45pm - I arrive at BSQ after having sent them one ticket.

    9:05pm - I leave BSQ after going through security, meeting a BSQ tech, unracking a box from BSQ1 and BSQ3, signing documentation, etc.

    9:15pm - I arrive at RapidSwitch, no one answers the buzzer, so I phone. A member of technical staff (seems friendly, etc) takes my hardware, I ask "Can you rack this immediately?", I am told "No we're really busy", I mention that I had arranged this earlier, he replies "Well I wish they had told us!!!", I am then told "Management always arrange maintenance tasks at the same time and never think of the fu****g monkeys (he said this!!) that actually have to do the work, there is no communication at all"... He then goes on to talk about only 2-3 people being on shift in the evenings, how they have too much work, etc. I ask "Can it be done in the next hour?". Am told "Uhhhhh I'll try but Ive got a mountain of jobs to do". Tech then walks off with the servers, forgetting to take the rails, network cables and power cables. I mention this to him, he says "Oh, I'm not used to this Managed Rack malarkey". He then says "I'll update your ticket to say we took delivery of your hardware".

    9:28pm - I drive off.

    9:34pm - I arrive at my office, no ticket update. I wait around a bit and reply to the ticket asking if it can please be done ASAP. No reply, I then phone and ask what the deal is, am told on the phone "ohh we'll do it in 10-15minutes, when (unaudible) comes back, but usually colo orders are racked within 48hrs, we're really busy!" (so basically am told that what I'm asking isn't acceptable and they're too busy to cope -- not what you want to hear from someone who's supposed to be managing your hardware)

    9:50pm - I phone up and ask what the hold up is. Am told your staff are too busy still, am also told that servers are racked within 48hrs of delivery. (So, basically I'm pushing my luck).

    10:27pm - I get a reply saying your staff will do it as soon as they've finished their current jobs.

    10:40pm - By this time I am getting customers shouting at me as this is taking too long, too right! I sternly reply to the ticket asking again to please rack them, once again explaining my situation.

    10:49pm - I get a reply saying the servers will be racked as your tech has finished his other jobs.

    11:08pm - I get a reply saying the servers have been racked but not plugged in, asking how I want them cabled - fair question, if not a bit obvious.

    11:20pm - Servers are pinging

    11:25pm - I have reconfigured the servers to work on the new IP range, so my job is complete, I then emailed them back asking if they're cPanel trained - turns out they aren't, although some members of their team might know bits and pieces - not what I was told on the tour, not useful to me at all.

    I had a think about it over the weekend -- I wondered, if we can now only access our equipment 8am-8pm Mon-Fri (30% of each week) and they won't even allow a Dell engineer in out of hours, plus their staff are too busy to handle our requests in a timely manner -- what do we do if something goes wrong?

    Worst case scenario is if a server physically broke at 5pm on a Friday and we didn't have the necessary spare part. We have 4hr SLA with Dell so they'd arrive at RS at 9pm but not be allowed in until 8am on Monday.

    I decided it would be unwise for us to use a data centre which only allows us access to the building for 30% of the week and we should have been told before we signed our contract that we'd only be allowed in during those times. Being told their staff were cPanel trained bugged me too, especially if what they're selling me is a 'Managed' rack.

    I wrote a long ranty email to them to nullify the contract, Paul Tacey-Green phoned me, we had a chat, he said they'd change the access time rules (but he hasn't yet), he mentioned that 2/4 of their staff on that shift had taken the night off sick and offered me some time free to show their commitment, I wasn't interested, I got the contract nullified and arranged to get out of there.

    I then called BlueSquare, they provisioned a new rack, got me a new IP range sorted and assured they'd help with whatever I needed.

    Getting out of there was interesting, a week later I opened a ticket to go there 19:30 one night, they made an exception to allow myself and a member of my staff in at the same time (only one visitor on DC floor allowed usually as their racks aren't secure).

    We got in there really quickly, the tech guy was nice. (But there seemed only to be 2 techs on site, Paul, on the phone told me there should be 4 during night shift) Anyway, we get to our rack and find the servers they'd racked the previous week weren't done properly, firstly they'd randomly been racked in the middle of the rack rather than on top of the existing ones (at the bottom of the rack), and then, quite scarily/hilariously, the bottom one they'd racked (in the middle of the rack), the rails weren't put in at the back, so it was defying gravity and mysteriously HANGING at about a 15 degree angle in the rack!

    We packed up our stuff as fast as possible, got out of there. We got into BlueSquare 10mins later, by the time we reached the door there were already BlueSquare techs waiting for us! They immediately took all our equipment out the back of my car and put it next to the rack so we could get it all installed.

    Anyway, I thought I'd just share my experience of RapidSwitch - Im sure they have lots of happy customers. I'm just happy we got out of there before we moved in too much kit. I couldn't handle the thought of giving them another chance, them failing and us being forced to move out some busy shared servers at 7:30pm one night! We'll be staying at BlueSquare from now on.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    I don't fully understand why you left BSQ if they were doing a good job? I think if a rack is really cheap there's usually a reason - and you found that out first hand.
    Stephen Nelson

  3. #3
    We thought it'd be a good idea to run a dual operation. Have some boxes at RS, some at BSQ, back up off site, a bit more redundancy etc...

    And yeah, latter point taken! :-)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    London, UK
    Wow, that's a shame. We did consider using Rapidswitch for offsite stuff at one point because it would have been convenient (we're based in Bray and our primary suite is in Bluesquare 2), but eventually settled on Bluesquare MK. The access times and various other things put us off in the end, despite the price.
    Darren Lingham - UK Webhosting Ltd. - (0800) 024 2931 - Quality UK Windows and Linux hosting since 2003
    UK WordPress Hosting - Fast, easy, cloud based WordPress Hosting

  5. #5
    I'm quite shocked that a server tech from RapidSwitch half racked your server, halfway up the rack, above your other servers, leaving it able to fall down on to them. That is scary. I hope there was no risk to your customers in all that, if there was, I'd be after a hell of a lot more than a cancelled contract, like... a refund as well perhaps.

    What is odder is that I've not seen many, if any, negative reviews of them before. Is this a one time slip or is there something more shady going on here.

    I've done a little reading apparently RapidSwitch cannot allow 24/7 access to their datacenter as this would be illegal under the planning application for the site, which only allows 8am - 8 pm access in the week, similar access on Saturdays and no access at all on Sunday’s that is totally insane for a datacenter.

    So my critical system fails late on Saturday, there is no way for my staff or an engineer from my hardware provider to get in and access that hardware and fix the fault, until 8am on Monday? That is insane. What if it was, say, some of their hardware that failed, can they not allow an engineer from Cisco or whomever they use for networking, on site to repair a network fault over the weekend. I would love you see how they deal with that one?

    I'll be staying well away from RapidSwitch, Poundhost have always been great to me with both Colo and Dedicated so I shall most certainly stick with them.

    - DC

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Devon, UK
    That's really concerning. After the downtime we experienced last month, we're considering leaving RS, I think this has just added to our concern.

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