Help Loic Le Meur (Seesmic) and John Furrier (Silicon Angle) find new hosting

Loic Le Meur complained about his hosting last night. The other day John Furrier, my former boss, complained his host was down too and he told me that he’s looking for new hosting. Loic runs Seesmic, which includes the popular Twitter client Twhirl and John is starting a new blogging company that covers the tech industry.

I’m not going to pitch them on Rackspace (my new employer). Instead, I’m going to ask you to help them out. After all, maybe Joyent or GoGrid or Amazon’s Web services or Google’s App Engine or Microsoft’s Azure or something else is better for them to consider.

Some things to consider:

1. Uptime vs. service vs. cost. Which one is best? My cell phone number is +1-425-205-1921, how many hosting company employees make themselves available like that? How many have hundreds of people standing by on the phone to help you 24/7?
2. Hybrid approaches, important? Some companies want to have a stack of their own servers as well as keep some things in the cloud. As their file sizes get bigger and bigger having them on the same high performance network might be important, especially as they use new cloudbursting techniques (moving files from their own datacenter to the cloud when they get popular or their own servers start to get too busy).
3. Agnostic from religion? GoGrid, for instance, lets you spin up Windows or Linux instances. If you’ve already built your infrastructure on Windows, that might be important. For guys like Loic and John, though, it’s less important because they are already on LAMP stacks. But still, they might need WordPress loaded. That’ll be tough to get at some hosting companies.
4. Other things? Does your business need hosted email, for instance? Some hosters do that, others don’t.
5. Best-of-breed APIs? Here Amazon and Google are leading the way, but their approaches are very different. Which one might be appropriate to Seesmic or John’s new blogging company? (Rackspace is making sizeable investments here, too).

But if you were in their shoes, which hosting company would you go with? What other things should they consider? Who is doing the best for super small startups like John’s company, or already-established companies with tons of storage needs like Seesmic?

96 thoughts on “Help Loic Le Meur (Seesmic) and John Furrier (Silicon Angle) find new hosting

  1. Choosing a webhost is always a challenge. Having helped build one of the first, I know there is a lot you need to consider. What I suggest is that you determine what are the critical factors for your site (such as bandwidth, control of servers, uptime, support, remote hands, high-volume storage, etc.) and rank those. Each hoster will be good and bad at some of these. By ranking, you can help narrow the list for making a good cost/benefit analysis.

    Also, make sure to consider some of the “other” factors. Do they have a good DAR (disaster avoidance and recovery plan – you’d be surprised that many don’t, that they often don’t include avoidance and/or that it is seriously out of date), how do they access the Internet (while some will tell you they have gobs of bandwidth, depending on how it is connected your network performance still may not be good, and how do they address security (this includes network, server and most importantly physical (don’t forget the easiest way to access a server is from the server itself)).

    There are lots of good referrals and recommendations listed. Hopefully this helps in the decision. Good luck.

  2. Choosing a webhost is always a challenge. Having helped build one of the first, I know there is a lot you need to consider. What I suggest is that you determine what are the critical factors for your site (such as bandwidth, control of servers, uptime, support, remote hands, high-volume storage, etc.) and rank those. Each hoster will be good and bad at some of these. By ranking, you can help narrow the list for making a good cost/benefit analysis.

    Also, make sure to consider some of the “other” factors. Do they have a good DAR (disaster avoidance and recovery plan – you’d be surprised that many don’t, that they often don’t include avoidance and/or that it is seriously out of date), how do they access the Internet (while some will tell you they have gobs of bandwidth, depending on how it is connected your network performance still may not be good, and how do they address security (this includes network, server and most importantly physical (don’t forget the easiest way to access a server is from the server itself)).

    There are lots of good referrals and recommendations listed. Hopefully this helps in the decision. Good luck.

  3. I just moved to GoGrid, due to the abitility to rapidly deploy instances.

    However there will always be a trade off. Recently my web apps have become unreachable due to net work performance issues.

    Shame cos I would have recommended them, no questions asked.

  4. I just moved to GoGrid, due to the abitility to rapidly deploy instances.

    However there will always be a trade off. Recently my web apps have become unreachable due to net work performance issues.

    Shame cos I would have recommended them, no questions asked.

  5. Slicehost is the way to go hands down. While Mosso may be offering similar packages now, Slicehosts support team have proven themselves time and time again. The sense of community you get with Slicehost is hard to put into words, but it feels like home.

  6. Slicehost is the way to go hands down. While Mosso may be offering similar packages now, Slicehosts support team have proven themselves time and time again. The sense of community you get with Slicehost is hard to put into words, but it feels like home.

  7. http://www.hostmysite.com/ has been good for me. Granted my site is small and run in a shared hosting setup. But for about $25 a month I get 24/7 customer service with an actual human on the phone.
    When I have needed to call about something, there was usually little or no waiting on hold before I got to talk to someone who could help me.

  8. http://www.hostmysite.com/ has been good for me. Granted my site is small and run in a shared hosting setup. But for about $25 a month I get 24/7 customer service with an actual human on the phone.
    When I have needed to call about something, there was usually little or no waiting on hold before I got to talk to someone who could help me.

  9. We are new SaaS (http://www.goldeneyedms.com) and evaluating hosters right now. Rackspace definitely appears to have the deepest bench of talent if we needed to draw on them. Even offered to bring you in on my call Robert. :)

    Big difference too, between Managed Hosters, Clouds, Co-lo. We’re looking at Fusion Storm (SwitchNAP), Exacent, Rackspace, and Latisys.

    Datacenters and their facilities are such commodities now. Biggest differentiators are the specific skills and value added services that come through the team that runs the environment.

  10. We are new SaaS (http://www.goldeneyedms.com) and evaluating hosters right now. Rackspace definitely appears to have the deepest bench of talent if we needed to draw on them. Even offered to bring you in on my call Robert. :)

    Big difference too, between Managed Hosters, Clouds, Co-lo. We’re looking at Fusion Storm (SwitchNAP), Exacent, Rackspace, and Latisys.

    Datacenters and their facilities are such commodities now. Biggest differentiators are the specific skills and value added services that come through the team that runs the environment.

  11. We started out hosting our site on a basic Joyent Connector shared hosting plan – this was good enough for testing purposes and having a few people try out the service.

    Recently we switched to Slicehost to give ourselves more capacity – as noted above, this is a self-managed solution but gives you full control over your environment which is what we wanted. It’s early but so far the experience has been positive – the Slicehost documentation is quite good with articles covering just about everything you’d want to know (esp. for running Ruby+Rails as we are).

  12. We started out hosting our site on a basic Joyent Connector shared hosting plan – this was good enough for testing purposes and having a few people try out the service.

    Recently we switched to Slicehost to give ourselves more capacity – as noted above, this is a self-managed solution but gives you full control over your environment which is what we wanted. It’s early but so far the experience has been positive – the Slicehost documentation is quite good with articles covering just about everything you’d want to know (esp. for running Ruby+Rails as we are).

  13. All of my sites are hosted in house now, but over the years I have gone through a bunch of hosts and I’d say the best experience I had was with Pacific Rack. They have great prices and awesome support, when I first signed up with them they had my server spun up with a custom install of Linux within an hour of me signing the contract. I also received responses to my emails within minutes and their backbone is connected to a ton of providers.

  14. All of my sites are hosted in house now, but over the years I have gone through a bunch of hosts and I’d say the best experience I had was with Pacific Rack. They have great prices and awesome support, when I first signed up with them they had my server spun up with a custom install of Linux within an hour of me signing the contract. I also received responses to my emails within minutes and their backbone is connected to a ton of providers.

  15. I thought WP.com was becoming LNMP (Nginx) based.

    Ultimately you need to spend the most on the Achilles heel of your system, the load balancers.
    Then you host in multiple locations.

    The new Rackspace / Mosso Gridservers are actually tempting, because they can also connect to large DB servers on the backend.

    To reduce rackspace costs, use a CDN

    I have seen a couple of negative reviews of SimpleCDN because their pricing is too good to be true, or the ping time to their primary DNS is a little slow (but that isn’t the server delivering the content)
    They are cheap if you use a lot of bandwidth rather than storage – you don’t need to store everything in the CDN, just what is popular.

    Thus ideal system would be to upload content to Amazon, then cycle newest content through a SimpleCDN bucket, automatically clearing out stale content on a weekly basis, and dynamically switching links back to Amazon.

  16. I thought WP.com was becoming LNMP (Nginx) based.

    Ultimately you need to spend the most on the Achilles heel of your system, the load balancers.
    Then you host in multiple locations.

    The new Rackspace / Mosso Gridservers are actually tempting, because they can also connect to large DB servers on the backend.

    To reduce rackspace costs, use a CDN

    I have seen a couple of negative reviews of SimpleCDN because their pricing is too good to be true, or the ping time to their primary DNS is a little slow (but that isn’t the server delivering the content)
    They are cheap if you use a lot of bandwidth rather than storage – you don’t need to store everything in the CDN, just what is popular.

    Thus ideal system would be to upload content to Amazon, then cycle newest content through a SimpleCDN bucket, automatically clearing out stale content on a weekly basis, and dynamically switching links back to Amazon.

  17. Agnostic from religion? GoGrid, for instance, lets you spin up Windows or Linux instances. If you’ve already built your infrastructure on Windows, that might be important. For guys like Loic and John, though, it’s less important because they are already on LAMP stacks. But still, they might need WordPress loaded. That’ll be tough to get at some hosting companies.

    WordPress thrives on a LAMP stack (indeed the “M” and “P” parts of its are required), but it’ll run on Windows, as well as non-Apache http servers such as IIS, LiteSpeed, Lighttpd, and others. As far as getting it installed, many hosts have “Wizard” installers like cPanel’s Fantastico or their own custom installer scripts. And even without an installer script, it’s about a 5 minute process to do a manual FTP upload of the files and enter your MySQL user/pass/database info.

    As to the matter at hand, Rackspace is amazing if you can afford them. If you’re willing to sacrifice some uptime and systems redundancy and save a bunch of money, Server Beach is worth considering. Layered Technologies is somewhere in the middle in terms of the price/fanatical-service tradeoff. I wouldn’t hesitate to do business with any of these companies.

    Cloud hosting is a riskier proposition. It’s new technology, and while it’s great in theory, I’ve found the execution to be universally lacking. For example, Rackspace’s Mosso CloudSites offering offers only FTP/SFTP as an interface — Subversion and Rsync support would really help. Cloud hosting isn’t what you want if you need your service to be super-responsive. All those virtualization layers add overhead. If you have customized needs or low latency requirements, you’re going to be better off with a custom solution. Where cloud hosting wins is that you can cut your IT costs and just deal with application developers.

  18. Agnostic from religion? GoGrid, for instance, lets you spin up Windows or Linux instances. If you’ve already built your infrastructure on Windows, that might be important. For guys like Loic and John, though, it’s less important because they are already on LAMP stacks. But still, they might need WordPress loaded. That’ll be tough to get at some hosting companies.

    WordPress thrives on a LAMP stack (indeed the “M” and “P” parts of its are required), but it’ll run on Windows, as well as non-Apache http servers such as IIS, LiteSpeed, Lighttpd, and others. As far as getting it installed, many hosts have “Wizard” installers like cPanel’s Fantastico or their own custom installer scripts. And even without an installer script, it’s about a 5 minute process to do a manual FTP upload of the files and enter your MySQL user/pass/database info.

    As to the matter at hand, Rackspace is amazing if you can afford them. If you’re willing to sacrifice some uptime and systems redundancy and save a bunch of money, Server Beach is worth considering. Layered Technologies is somewhere in the middle in terms of the price/fanatical-service tradeoff. I wouldn’t hesitate to do business with any of these companies.

    Cloud hosting is a riskier proposition. It’s new technology, and while it’s great in theory, I’ve found the execution to be universally lacking. For example, Rackspace’s Mosso CloudSites offering offers only FTP/SFTP as an interface — Subversion and Rsync support would really help. Cloud hosting isn’t what you want if you need your service to be super-responsive. All those virtualization layers add overhead. If you have customized needs or low latency requirements, you’re going to be better off with a custom solution. Where cloud hosting wins is that you can cut your IT costs and just deal with application developers.

  19. If you want cutting-edge dedicated-servers (like the latest quad core processors, up to 96GB of ram, SSD hard disks), all kind of network stuff (firewalls, load balancers, SAN) and cost-effective prices, softlayer.com is a damn good hosting. But they don’t offer any cloud service (yet), and although i think people is understimating old-fashion dedicated-servers nowadays, i cannot deny the beneficits of cloud servers. So, right now, i think the best hosting company is rackspace, they offer the better of both worlds: you can have dedicated managed hosting, virtual-self managed servers (@ slicehost) or cloud servers (@mosso). Slicehost/Mosso combined, IMO, are way better than amazon EC2.

  20. If you want cutting-edge dedicated-servers (like the latest quad core processors, up to 96GB of ram, SSD hard disks), all kind of network stuff (firewalls, load balancers, SAN) and cost-effective prices, softlayer.com is a damn good hosting. But they don’t offer any cloud service (yet), and although i think people is understimating old-fashion dedicated-servers nowadays, i cannot deny the beneficits of cloud servers. So, right now, i think the best hosting company is rackspace, they offer the better of both worlds: you can have dedicated managed hosting, virtual-self managed servers (@ slicehost) or cloud servers (@mosso). Slicehost/Mosso combined, IMO, are way better than amazon EC2.

  21. I had been using Carbonite but switched because I seemed to be paying a premium for what I store .

    I’m now using Amazon S3 for home and Mosso Cloud Files for work (as that is what work prescribes_ through a service called smestorage.com. I can see al files at once in a virtual file system and I get some really nice windows tools which include sync, plug-ins for office and a virtual drive. I like this hybrid approach, I use one service but can get access to all my files. They recently started supporting email-as-a-cloud which allows me to pull all my email and attachments back into this same virtual file system. I can see my having all my files stored in this fashion,

  22. I had been using Carbonite but switched because I seemed to be paying a premium for what I store .

    I’m now using Amazon S3 for home and Mosso Cloud Files for work (as that is what work prescribes_ through a service called smestorage.com. I can see al files at once in a virtual file system and I get some really nice windows tools which include sync, plug-ins for office and a virtual drive. I like this hybrid approach, I use one service but can get access to all my files. They recently started supporting email-as-a-cloud which allows me to pull all my email and attachments back into this same virtual file system. I can see my having all my files stored in this fashion,

  23. We are now in the process of looking for an alternate hosting provider and have made a decision on going with theplanet. We have looked at several hosting companies and really liked rackspace but cost was too high for us. Theplanet seemed very professional and we would move one of our servers there now for a proof of concept. The fact that nobody mentioned them worries me now. Has anybody had any experience with theplanet?

  24. We are now in the process of looking for an alternate hosting provider and have made a decision on going with theplanet. We have looked at several hosting companies and really liked rackspace but cost was too high for us. Theplanet seemed very professional and we would move one of our servers there now for a proof of concept. The fact that nobody mentioned them worries me now. Has anybody had any experience with theplanet?

  25. Edwin, great feedback. I agree. We are working on making the pricing process much more clear and transparent. Our cloud offerings are completely transparent. We have a ways to go on the managed hosting side.

  26. Edwin, great feedback. I agree. We are working on making the pricing process much more clear and transparent. Our cloud offerings are completely transparent. We have a ways to go on the managed hosting side.

  27. Companies that host their sites on a $10 a month virtual server and “develop” their Websites using a WordPress instance, a slightly modified “off the shelf” WP theme, and a dizzying array of open source plugins right on the production machine should expect the occasional catastrophic failure. I wouldn’t blame the hosting service.

  28. Companies that host their sites on a $10 a month virtual server and “develop” their Websites using a WordPress instance, a slightly modified “off the shelf” WP theme, and a dizzying array of open source plugins right on the production machine should expect the occasional catastrophic failure. I wouldn’t blame the hosting service.

  29. Hi Robert,

    Feedly is currently hosted by Hurricane Electric (co-location). We have been really happy with their offering. As our bandwidth requirements started to increase over the last 3 months, we are now looking at what we should be doing next.

    I briefly looked at Rackspace because we heard from a couple of people that they offer really good support. One way you could really help them is to improve their website so that the pricing is more transparent: Let me enter my parameters: number of servers, in bandwidth, out bandwidth, storage, backup option and give me in real-time a quote and then let me opt-in to talk to a sales person.

    Right now, there is a lot of marketing bla bla and no easy way for me to determine the price. No?

  30. Hi Robert,

    Feedly is currently hosted by Hurricane Electric (co-location). We have been really happy with their offering. As our bandwidth requirements started to increase over the last 3 months, we are now looking at what we should be doing next.

    I briefly looked at Rackspace because we heard from a couple of people that they offer really good support. One way you could really help them is to improve their website so that the pricing is more transparent: Let me enter my parameters: number of servers, in bandwidth, out bandwidth, storage, backup option and give me in real-time a quote and then let me opt-in to talk to a sales person.

    Right now, there is a lot of marketing bla bla and no easy way for me to determine the price. No?

  31. I appreciate the vote of confidence, Tim. I’ve reached out to both Loic and John. You can reach me at brandon.hale@gigenet.com with any additional questions.

    My suggestion to both: research the recommended hosting companies; see what their customers have to say; determine what type of hosting environment (cloud vs. dedicated vs. colocation) best meets your needs, and take it from there.

  32. I appreciate the vote of confidence, Tim. I’ve reached out to both Loic and John. You can reach me at brandon.hale@gigenet.com with any additional questions.

    My suggestion to both: research the recommended hosting companies; see what their customers have to say; determine what type of hosting environment (cloud vs. dedicated vs. colocation) best meets your needs, and take it from there.

  33. If you’re hosting a site that big, someone that offers co-lo is your best option. Why even bother with a hosting company’s servers if you can roll your own? Just check out the datacenter, and see if they’re managed or unmanaged. If they’re unmanaged, you’ll need someone who can do work on the server for you.

    Also, your point #3 makes no sense. WordPress simply runs on top of PHP, so if you had a LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP/Perl) platform running, installing WordPress is trivial.

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