Forum OpenACS Q&A: What are your criteria for choosing hosting companies?

I have a client with requirements (and a checkbook) for a site with
excellent connectivity, stability, and support.  The client is
looking for five 9s uptime.

As we start to vet possible hosting companies, I would like to hear
what your criteria are.

How do you evaluate hosting companies?  What criteria do you look for
and how do you measure that criteria?

Do you know of any worthwhile checklists to follow?

What terms would you explicitly look for or write into any contracts?

And of course, who would you recommend today?

Thank you,


I'm assuming you mean managed hosting not co-location. The major bandwith providers have gotten it down pretty well to all claim up-times like that.

I certainly don't have a due-diligence for selecting a hosting company, and in fact from knowing you on OpenACS I'd trust your judgement over mine. But I do have some experience. My company uses Genuity to host our sites. My company has a very big checkbook.

I have fooled aroung with a couple of hosting companies for my personal playgrounds. Among them were and These are companies that have mass hosting down to a science.

Of course if you want openacs hosting you need a Virtual SErver in the least, where you can configure the server to our liking.

I recently tried, after seeing it in a post here. I'll let you know how it goes. My first impression: A mom and pop shop but they care. I almost had a tear in my eye when I logged on to my account and OpenACS4 was installed(Congratulations!) I might have payed the first months charge just for that.

I hear Open Force hosts. Nothing like keeping it in the family.

Regarding managed hosting versus colocation (as I understand them), well I am agnostic at this point.  I believe the client is leaning towards colocation but I favor the most robust solution and that might be managed hosting.

I am looking for factors such as: best connectivity and why, stats or other measures of performance (technical performance, operator performance, and contractual performance), most competent network engineers and how one might judge that, best relationships with upstream providers, etc.  The idea is to find a stable solution with a partner that can help us quickly diagnose and alleviate connectivity problems including network attacks.

I'll give you a for instance.  For instance, Rackspace seems very attractive in many regards.  As a private company however, their books are closed and presumably that leaves some additional risk that they won't be able to perform compared to a public company (seems a bit funny to write this a week after enron cratered.)  How would a savvy player address this risk?

Having open books doesn't change much.  We host with Exodus, and they very suddenly
had massive financial problems that caused a number of IT people around
here to run around looking stressed for several weeks.  Very few people saw it coming,
unless you count the Slashdotters who said (in reply to the "Exodus goes bankrupt" story)
"Yeah, I saw it coming, I was there a few weeks ago and the data centre was half empty."

We have a new colocation set up with Q9 networks
(Canadian) and they seem to be doing fine.

It's difficult, by looking at a hosting company, or even by talking to them,
whether they are any good, largely because it's so easy to fudge their numbers and you have to really press them
to learn what their methodology is.  Do they call uptime "being able to get ICMP replies to pings",
or that all their services are up and taking orders?

Nearly any top-tier hosting company will be able to get power and packets to your computers
reliably with many 9's in the number.  The real source of problems is, as you might guess,
the carbon-based, fallible life forms that attend to the devices.

To address the human falliability problem, you either need 3 sysadmins (if you give your
sole sysadmin the pager all the time, he will go nuts, become cranky, and quit within 6 months).  The best
arrangement is one sysadmin god to set policy, 2 to act as backups and generally knowledgable,
and one minion to run around installing Windows, fixing dead desktops, running network cable,
and dealing with vendors.

If you can't afford 3 sysadmins, managed hosting seems the best way to go.
I would be inclined to find a professional company who will take care of your colocated equipment. I would be inclined
to seek out a company where they are big enough to provide a person to pick up the phone 24x7x365,
but small enough that you can have a dedicated, identifiable team assigned to you rather than just getting
a different person each time you call.

I would also ask for a demonstration of their monitoring system. No brochureware. Show me the system in action,
and what happens when someone trips over a power cord or unplugs one of the drives in a SCSI RAID or
accidentally types 'halt' rather than 'reboot'.

Hi Jerry,

We've been using Globix for some time now and have been quite pleased with their level of service, both from a network infrastructure and administrator point of view.

Jun would be able to provide more details, since he communicates with them regularly. However, all the feedback he's given me thus far has been very positive, and he's a tough guy to impress. :)

Note that my company and I are not affiliated with Globix in any way.

Hope this helps...

Hi Jerry,

Just like Rob said we use Globix.  Its one of the best co-location
providers.  Very good service, rates are like

But I think what you should look for is:

- If you can employ real guru administrators then go for
co-location.  As it is better since you can configure for your needs

- If you have no people to hire then go manage hosting... but ouch
they cost a lot especially for someone like me who is an ex-sys
admin who can somehow manage this stuff.

If you can hire people or have time and expertise in network
infrastructure then go for colocation.  I recommend above

Manage hosting we just use for this.  I have little
experience with others but hostcentric has been so far ok.

This are just my experience so I maybe wrong but stay away from, iAsiaworks, serverhosting.

In contracts look for this things:

- service level agreements (SLA).

- your way out incase they really suck.  You need a bailout

- read what is your responsibility and what your vendors
responsibilities.  You will be suprised what is written on the

I hope this helps.