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30 May 2015 @ 03:25 pm
Hosting debacle  
Couple of months ago ASmallOrange marketer contacted me and offered free 2 months trial of their Virtual Private Server (VPS).
We wanted to try hosting ElasticSearch on Linux platform.
While hosting ElasticSearch on Linux was a positive experience, hosting on ASmallOrange was so-so and ended up badly.

It went like this:
1) Got 3GB 2-cores VPS with Linux CentOs ($45/month with 2 months free trial).
2) Configured firewall.
3) Installed ElasticSearch.
4) Added another VPS (2GB 2-cores for $30/month - this time that was real money) in order to form ElasticSearch cluster.
5) Started running ElasticSearch percolation on that cluster.
6) Our VPS-es were rebooted about once per week for different type of patches/maintenance.
7) Once our VPS did not get up after such maintenance done by ASmallOrange.
After seeing crashes in our logs we had to contact ASmallOrange in order to get it up. We got about 3 hours of downtime back then.
As a "bonus", ASmallOrange tech changed our firewall settings to make it more publicly available (to the contrary of our intention to keep our VPS private as much as possible).
8) At the end of the trial period I asked ASmallOrange to convert my server that was on trial into paid account.
Time of request: 3:20 pm EDT on Friday.
ASmallOrange ignored that request and terminated my first server (that was on trial).
Termination time: 1:30 am EDT on Saturday.
9) Now ASmallOrange is not able to restore it.
Cannot find backup, cannot really do anything.
10) Fortunately, we only moved ElasticSearch percolation to ASmallOrange, so it was not that hard to move it back to our main Windows server.

Conclusions time:
1) Don't go to England Do not use ASmallOrange for anything that requires reliable work.
2) In web hosting you get what you paid for.
 
 
 
Американский Наблюдатель: Uncle Samyostrov on May 30th, 2015 09:33 pm (UTC)
I work as a salesman for MS Azure now :)
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 30th, 2015 10:40 pm (UTC)
What do you mean?
What did happen with your employer?
Американский Наблюдатель: Uncle Samyostrov on May 30th, 2015 10:47 pm (UTC)
This is not my employer, this is my company: I am co-founder.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 30th, 2015 10:55 pm (UTC)
All right, what did happen with your company?
Why are you selling Windows Azure now?
Американский Наблюдатель: Uncle Samyostrov on May 31st, 2015 12:14 am (UTC)
We can't afford me :)
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 31st, 2015 12:56 am (UTC)
So did you quit your company already?
Or just moonlighting selling Windows Azure?
Американский Наблюдатель: Uncle Samyostrov on May 31st, 2015 01:48 am (UTC)
moonlighting :)
Clean and soberanspa on May 31st, 2015 12:17 am (UTC)
Удивительны дела твои, господи.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 31st, 2015 12:56 am (UTC)
Could you be a little bit more specific with your comment?
Clean and soberanspa on May 31st, 2015 01:02 am (UTC)
Was due diligence / research done re: ASmallOrange?
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 31st, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
I Googled ASmallOrange a little bit.
Did not find anything unusual.
https://www.google.com/search?q=asmallorange+hosting+problems

Did I miss any particular steps in our due diligence?
журнал закрытjuan_gandhi on May 31st, 2015 01:54 am (UTC)
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 31st, 2015 04:01 am (UTC)
Do you mean their building looks nice?
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 31st, 2015 04:10 am (UTC)
Just added my review to the ASmallOrange map:
https://www.google.com/search?q=A+Small+Orange,+131+W+Orange+St,+Durham,+NC+27701,+United+States&ludocid=13172171653240595032#lrd=0x89ace46e00e07805:0xb6ccf45457e02258,1

However:
1) My review is visible only to me and for some reason is not visible for anonymous users.
2) My review in the form that is visible to me has "
" inserted instead of text linebreaks.
Google Maps team: WTF?
Clean and soberanspa on June 1st, 2015 01:04 pm (UTC)
Did you answer to yourself:
- How long are they in business?
- How big is the company - number of employees, annual income, operations, how many locations?
- What is the company's core expertise?
- What is in SLA for you as a client and what is their contingency plan?
- How do they look in comparison with 3 close competitors?


Edited at 2015-06-01 01:05 pm (UTC)
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on June 1st, 2015 08:34 pm (UTC)
> - How long are they in business?

Multiple years.

> - How big is the company - number of employees, annual income, operations?

I did not search for these numbers.
But I know that their web site is popular:
http://www.similarweb.com/website/asmallorange.com

> - Do they have more than one location?

Do you mean physical location?
Why would that be important?


> - What is the company's core expertise?

That seems to be web hosting.

> - What is in SLA for you as a client and what is their contingency plan?

I'm not sure how to evaluate it.
Does SLA actually matter?
They can claim in SLA whatever they want.
But only actual performance really matters.

> - How do they look in comparison with 3 close competitors?

How exactly to evaluate it?
журнал закрытjuan_gandhi on May 31st, 2015 01:51 am (UTC)
Disgusting, of course.

We had an interesting experience yesterday, the whole thing was down because of a data center power outage. For 6 hours. Amazon.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on May 31st, 2015 03:45 am (UTC)
Amazon claims there was not downtime yesterday:
http://status.aws.amazon.com/

What Amazon datacenter are you hosting with? East? West?


ASmallOrange actually hosts in a very reliable datacenter - SoftLayer Dallas (my Windows server is hosted in the same SoftLayer datacenter).
By ASmallOrange managed to screw up anyway.
---
I've very sorry to hear about the issues that you've experienced with this account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

I've been looking at the chain of events that occurred in an attempt to piece together what might have been the cause for the termination of the VPS.

I know it will auto terminate via cron if not activated a paid subscription at the end of the 60 day period. I'm not sure if that is the issue here as it appears we might have gotten an email within the last 24 hours about making it a normal sub. We are going to continue to look into that.

Unfortunately, we do not make backups of trial server. This means we will have no way to recover any lost data for you. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

We will be happy to help you get your new VPS setup and running. Firstly it appears that the hostname it current has will need to be updated to valid hostname. I.E name.domain.com etc..

Please let us know what help you might need with that and we will be happy to lend a hand.

We're standing by to provide you additional assistance.
---

Polite BS.
Clean and soberanspa on June 1st, 2015 12:49 pm (UTC)
First and all of all: why oh why a production server was in "trial" subscription mode? You do your trial with a test server, once concept is proven, no need to wait until last couple of days to convert it into a live setup. You start with a live setup by paying money - that's how contract relationships are created and SLA kicks in. etc.
Dennis Gorelikdennisgorelik on June 1st, 2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
> why a production server was in "trial" subscription mode

Because it is expensive (from the time and development efforts involved) to recreate realistic test environment.
We picked not critical production functionality to test.

> no need to wait until last couple of days to convert it into a live setup

I assumed it will be converted automatically.
That's what other businesses do with trials.

> SLA kicks in

Why should I care about SLA?

If hosting does not work, then my losses would be at least 10x larger than what I pay for that service.
Is it typical for SLA to pay 10x+ of hosting costs in case of failure?
Clean and soberanspa on June 1st, 2015 12:54 pm (UTC)
Might be something very local with Amazon - I see no traces and no effect.