Shy and Retiring

Apple Xserve - First Generation

So anyway, had a little downtime over the past couple of days. The first time was due to incompetence, the second due to the fact that we’re not willing to put up with such incompetence again.

What happened you ask? Well four years ago we took on a web development job for NSW Water Polo, everything was going great. We had a quote from David’s old boss for hosting and used that as part of our quote for the development job. Just two weeks out from launch disaster struck.

David’s old boss decided he wanted to get out of the hosting game and he was going to close up shop so we had to find a new hosting provider for the water polo site. We had already looked prior to agreeing to go with him for hosting and knew that all the other hosting companies were charging a whole lot more for hosting than we had already quoted for, but we looked around again just to be sure. The cheapest we could find at the time was three times our initial quote to the client and there was no way we could go back to them at such a late stage to increase the cost. While it would have been a reasonable thing to do, we didn’t feel it was ethical.

So we called David’s old boss and talked about buying his server from him and continuing to run it. It was still going to cost us more per year than we had quoted, but we decided that we would be able to take on more clients to offset the cost. So we agreed on a fee and bought our first server.

We then contacted the boss’ location provider and took over his contract, but were going to move the server to a Sydney location so it would be closer. This all happened in a single week and we had a week to the launch of our customer’s site, everything was going great. Then came the day before the move of the server… and another bad day for us. The server that we had bought, which was really a gutted iMac placed on a rack-mounting board, DIED. Completely and absolutely it died. There was no way the little bugger could be recovered.

The boss, being a nice man, gave us our money back but we were still stuck with a contract for service and a customer about to launch a site. So we did what any half-crazed and seemingly jinxed person would do. We bought our own server. Not some dodgy little iMac that had been tarted up to be a server… a real server. The little blighter cost us $6,000 but the Xserve was (and quietly still is) amazing.

I know Apple cops a lot about the cost of their products but compared to some of the other server vendors out there, the Xserve was cheap and very sturdy. In fact, except for two acts of incompetence and a move from a Sydney location to Melbourne, we have had 99.9% up time for the whole time it has been running.

That brings us to the bad point of the story. On Friday this week we had us some down-time. And it was bad. David called the location providers to check it was nothing with them, then booked in a time to go check out the server. When he got there he was not happy.

Some fucker, and I don’t use the term lightly, had played with our server and had partially removed the hard drive, rendering the server useless. We know who it was because security logs at the location show who was in the server room at the time of the incident but it seems that our location providers don’t care and won’t do anything to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Which given that it’s the second time we have had an incident like this we’re surprised and infuriated about.

The first time this happened someone had taken the power supply from our machine and used it for their own machine! Further to this they were using our server as a shelf to hold theirs. Where the hell do these people get off thinking they can touch someone else’s machine? Because of a lack of support from our location provider we’ve moved! But not our server.

We’re going to retire her. She’s done us well over the past four years, the gods know if she weren’t so loud we’d bring her home and turn her into our files server here… but then she does only have 256MB of RAM and only a 160GB HDD so she’d not be quite as good as the G5 tower currently doing that job. Not to say that she’s in anyway flawed. In fact she is still a fantastic little server and if we had the cash we’d certainly buy our own private rack and keep her, but at $800 per month for the space that’s a little too much for now.

So if you know anyone who’s in the market for a brilliant, hard working server hit me up, we can possibly do a deal.

I’ll miss her, but our new hosting provider seems cool (so far). Almost all of the sites we host are moved, David has been very busy moving databases, creating mail accounts, I’m surprised it has all happened so fast, but then if anyone out there knows David, they will know that once he sets his mind to something… it’s as good as done already.

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