Web Hosting Outage Has Clients Pondering Options

Updated: The prolonged outage at ValueWeb/Hostway has implications for companies that depend on Web services.

With the Software as a Service movement continues to gain momentum, the massive data center outage at ValueWeb/Hostway, which knocked thousands of customer Web sites off the Internet, has implications far beyond the hosting companys doorstep.

Not only are companies that host their applications with an on demand vendor at risk of excessive downtime if a data center has longer-than-planned outages, but developers could be impacted as well, particularly as more migrate to Salesforce.coms Apex on-demand programming language and platform—and others that may spring up like it.

Salesforce.com last year experienced a series of outages that left customers without access to their front end CRM [Customer Relationship Management] applications — the longest lasting for about five hours or all business day in some cases.

While Salesforce.com blamed the issue on a data center migration as well as on an unpredictable bug, the truth is that any number of issues can impact data center reliability, although it is more common for in-house software glitches to occur, according to some industry watchers. And while many on demand vendors provide SLA [service level agreements] that promise 99.999 percent uptime, there are times when that service reliability falls short.

In an email to eWEEK, John Pozadzides, founder of HTMLHelp.com, wrote that his company, as of Aug. 2, is still having issues with ValueWebs migration to another hosting center—five days after the planned migration was to be completed.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about the ValueWeb/Hostway data center migration that has knocked many of its clients sites off the Internet.

"We are affected by this server outage situation," wrote Pozadzides. "HTMLHelp.com is one of the oldest sites on the Internet with a very dedicated following. We get around 2 million visitors monthly and we have forums with thousands of registered Web developers. Although we have only two dedicated servers with Hostway [which owns ValueWeb], the net effect of our outage is that tens of thousand of Web developers become aware of the hosting providers issue for every day that we are unavailable to them."

Pozadzides said currently his companys main server is live, but that its second server which runs HTMLHelp.coms forums and blogs, is unreachable.

"I am unable to get any sort of assistance or timeline from Hostway as to when the issues would be resolved."

While an inability to access forums or blogs may not be critical issues, there are others who experience real economic blows without access to their data, or Web sites.

"There were 4,000 servers moved overnight [at ValueWeb] which I would estimate affects about 20,000-40,000 individual or business Web sites," wrote one poster to the social networking site Digg.com. "Thats quite a large number of unhappy folks."

Another poster to the Digg message board, titled How Not to Migrate a Data Center, but it more bluntly: "We have been screwed up by this