back to article Deafening silence as Smart Hosting support tickets keep piling up

Customers of British cloud biz Smart Hosting are furious at the company's radio silence throughout its ongoing support tickets crises. The business has been left with "an incredibly high volume of support tickets" after merging with Krystal. Smart Hosting has been asking customers to keep non-urgent issues to themselves since …

  1. wolfetone

    Interesting

    "...it's only affecting 30 or so sites but they are important, high-traffic sites and being offline is damaging to them and us.""

    I'd have thought that if you were stung once with a server outage you'd have made plans to keep a mirror of the site for such events?

    I only wonder about this statement because I host my company's sites on Linode on two VPS's on there. But I have these sites mirrored to Digital Ocean. I do this because Linode were out for a week once and it'd hurt our business massively if that happened again. It does cost a bit of money to do this, but it pays for itself in times of crisis. We joined Linode after this event, and thankfully they haven't had problems since. But I know it could happen again, and if you work on a site that turns over £500,000 of sales per month one day of outage will affect you massively.

    It's 2017, the idea of having one server for one website and hoping for the best that it doesn't go down is long long gone. I feel for the customers involved, but Jesus H Christ if your site is so bloody important have a back up plan!!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interesting

      Turning over £500k a month and still using a budget host? Then I'd ask why? If it was your idea, then you deserve to be fired.. If its cause the boss st tight-arsed, then find a job that respects and understands availability and reliability isn't cheap..

      These days with things like AWS and Cloudflare, there really is no excuse for it.. still I'd probably op to setup our own core-infrastructure (half-rack in a local colo is dirt cheap these days), then replicate this to a cloud provider.

      1. wolfetone

        Re: Interesting

        "Turning over £500k a month and still using a budget host? Then I'd ask why? "

        I prefer to run the site on a VPS like this for a few reasons, cost isn't one of them. When I came in we had one server with Vidahost, and all the sites were hosted on there. I took the sites away from Vidahost as the service was poor. Generally 24 hours to respond to a ticket and we were paying north of £1,000 per month for the privilege.

        The performance of the Linux VPS have been really good, exceeding the physical server these VPS's replaced. We have the flexibility to increase what we have when we need it within minutes. We couldn't do this on the stanadlone server I inherited.

        The support with Linode is fantastic. During the night when I'm asleep there was an issue with the cron that dealt with backing the site up on Amazon S3. They jumped on it, and it was fixed in minutes. Our server had issues with Vidahost 12 months prior to that, and it was down for 6 hours while I slept. I get in to the office at 7am, and at 9:30am I get an email from Vidahost saying "Yeah we noticed there was a problem". What good is that?

        For the 12+ months we've been on Linode site speeds have improved, customers have increased and there have been comments made that the sites have been improved as well. What's more, while Linode do offer the $5 per month tier we are several leagues above that.

        Oh, and one more thing: VPS's can be moved fairly easily between physical machines. I couldn't buy a new server, drive to London or Slough, install it in the rack, and be back in the office quicker than what Linode can shift our VPS to another physical machine on their network. That happened just last week actually, took 15/20 minutes to complete the move.

        1. K Silver badge

          Re: Interesting

          Its company's like this that keep me employed - Until last year, I was paying £1500 for half rack (Power and 1GB connectivity), all supplied with hardware on my choosing which included 3 ESXi hosts (16 Cores, 128GB RAM in each) and Hybrid Dell EQL SSD/HDD SAN, Palo Alto Firewalls (Small models)..

      2. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Interesting

        The same Cloudflare that just had a data breach?

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Interesting

      It's 2017, the idea of having one server for one website and hoping for the best that it doesn't go down is long long gone.

      I've been advocating this for years and I tend to agree but the problem is it's not always that simple, especially if you're doing financial transactions and the like.

  2. Spud
    Joke

    move to the cloud they* said

    it will be fine they* said ......

    *managerial types only interested in joining the latest buzzword so they can sound cool when meeting other managerial types from other companies (see also cloud crowd)

    1. EarthDog

      You forgot:

      It'll be safe they said

      What could possibly go wrong they said

  3. Millennia

    IT investment

    Still amazes me that companies go for cheap hosting deals for what is in effect their mission critical hosting, and then get surprised when it all goes wrong. If your business really does depend on your site being up, then you need a DR plan (if your cheap as chips host doesn't supply it), otherwise you just have yourself to blame if your business goes down the pan.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IT investment

      My employer is busy shifting stuff from in-house hosted stuff to hosting elsewhere. OK, we had our own issues, but we at least had control. Now, we have all these customer sites hosted elsewhere, with lots of backups hosted ... by the same people.

      So if the brown stuff hits the fan and the do a 2e2, we can't just load the backups up onto other hosting and carry on.

      Just one of many reasons I'm looking for another job.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Krystal

    I was with another hoster (Fuzioned - Ariotek) that recently merged with Krystal and I lost some features for about a week.

    Luckily it was just a hobby site and nothing critical.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought it was law that UK companies trading on the web had to give physical addresses?

    I'm sure I'll be downvoted by web lawyers :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They have given a physical address, post can be sent there and paperwork served.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloud has nothing to do with this issue, it could as easily be your own hardware or dedicated hardware, major data centre issue, lack of a DR plan for your business is sadly your own failing. Much like companies round here that had a major telecoms outage and then bleated they were loosing thousands a day.

    One local company had it's offices flooded at about 5pm one day by a tidal surge, by 9am the next morning they had a new sales office set up in the distribution warehouse a mile away and were taking orders as usual. That's a DR plan.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    new address?

    role: SMART CLOUD HOSTING UK LTD CUSTOMER SUPPORT

    address: THE APEX

    address: 2 SHERIFFS ORCHARD

    address: COVENTRY

    address: CV1 3PP

    abuse-mailbox: SUPPORT@SMARTHOSTING.CO.UK

    phone: +442087206632

    nic-hdl: SCHU4-RIPE

    mnt-by: MNT-MELBOURNE

    created: 2015-06-04T14:09:58Z

    last-modified: 2015-06-04T14:12:06Z

    source: RIPE # Filtered

  8. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Happy

    "The company has turned off phone comms after merging VoIP systems with the other firm"

    Their customers' VoIP services went tits up without notice but their own support helpline was deliberately and carefully turned off.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the negative about cloud

    Thoughts regarding the same tired old attacks on services....

    - People saying cloud is the latest buzzword - It's been the "latest buzzword for the last decade and half... That's no longer a flash in the pan (what about delivering your physical mail? The GPO has been around since 1660 according to wikipedia). And really if you don't like cloud say, hosted service, managed service, outsourced service.

    - People say "I'd never use cloud" - Cloud is outsourcing, you don't run your own ISP, telco, utility provider do you? Unless you live in a yurt in a valley in Wales then you and your company use services provided by other people! Hosting is exactly the same.

    - People say "I'd never use cheap hosting for 500K etc etc" why not? Just just two different providers... Lower risk profile than using one expensive one.

    Treat it like any other cheap black box. It's as good as your own maintenance, backup, admin processes. It's not intrinsically good or bad.

  10. Spaceman Spiff

    "Updated at 14.20 UTC to add: The Register spoke to Simon Blackler, who admitted that the company had a severe support ticket issue, and had failed to communicate thoroughly with its customers. He stressed the Krystal was not shuttering the Smart Hosting brand, and was working hard on resolving the backlog of tickets."

    Yep. Their hamsters are spinning those wheels as fast as they can! Fixing stuff? Nah. That's human stuff, and there aren't any (humans) around here any longer...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Cloud..

    Other peoples computers you have no control over.

  12. ddd.p
    Mushroom

    Once upon a time...

    I moved from Heart Internet following issues with downtime and was finally pushed to move to Smart Hosting following the multiple day outage with Heart Internet - I'm now faced with very much the same issue with Smart Hosting.

    More than a day has gone by where both myself and my customers have not had steady and satisfactory access to websites or email.

    Perhaps a coincidence, but all these issues have coincided with the recent merge/takeover, which appears to be the consensus of a lot of Smart Hosting customers on social media. I would hope you're aware how damaging this downtime is to our customers' websites and their business.

    When I moved over I was impressed with the the stellar service provided, speed and reliance of the servers, today, I'm sad to say, that is not how I would describe Smart Hosting and would retract what I had said previously!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gobbled up Ariotek as well

    Krystal have Gobbled up Ariotek as well. Admittedly it appears this is because Ariotek had a big outage and needed help. They turned to Krystal. Drew then said the only way forward, because their servers were better blah blah, was to merge with Krystal. For some reason though Krystal gobbled up the name so Ariotek is no more (maybe Drew just had enough. Although he now works for Krystal). Where as Smarthosting gets to carry on running under their own brand.

    All seems odd. Would help Krystal if they had a forum for each other to help, which worked OK at Ariotek, but Krystal don't even bother to do that. One of the other excuses for these two merges is because of the big companies like 123Reg buying up the little people and they wanted to stop this. Sounds to me like Krystal is trying to become like 123Reg.

  14. harryadney

    Still ongoing

    Sad to say, the service isn't getting any better. I have had several high priority tickets take a few days to resolve.

    I certainly never waited this long before the merger. The tech staff are obviously knowledgeable, competent and professional. I have no complaints over the tech support staff. Maybe they just need more of them.

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