It’s easy to choose a managed hosting company that carries with it the best uptime boasted in the hosting industry and think that these things don’t happen, however, the reality is that any web host is not immune to these acts of God that can choose to surprise us at any time. The real question is how we can mitigate them.
Update: 7/1/2010 12:06 PM
Rackspace has contacted us in clarification that it was coincidental that the hurricane was happening at the same time of the network-related issues they were experiencing and that the support representative who informed us of the issue was incorrect in stating it was hurricane-related.
Update: 7/1/2010 12:25 PM (response from Rackspace)
We do not take incidents like this lightly and realize the impact this has on our customers. It is important to note that this incident being mentioned below has not resulted in any customer’s email being lost. The incident has caused connectivity issues for some of our customers, causing them to be unable to connect to their mailboxes.
The part of our system that sends and receives email is not affected and any incoming email to our customers is being delivered to customer’s mailboxes. We actually do provide our customers with two different MX records that point to different systems, so that in case one fails the backup will pick up any incoming mail.
Having a 3rd party backup MX service can offer an additional layer of protection for your mailboxes, but for this incident in question the backup MX service would not have provided any additional protection.
Rackspace, the company often thought to never be offline, has been hit by hurricane Alex and is suffering from power outages this morning. I don’t want to prey on their misfortune and my prayers are with the employees and residents near San Antonio, Texas. I will, however, take a moment to reflect on what this means for the stability of email and online applications hosted at one of the world’s largest and most successful data centers.
Rackspace just told us via phone that their Outlook, OWA (Outlook Web Access) and Entourage systems are experiencing downtime due to power outages caused by hurricane Alex and that email was safe. When we asked the phone support technician how the emails were safe if the servers were offline in San Antonio, Texas, there was a brief pause before a reply was given.
The reality is that email is directed solely to those mail servers and that there was no way to guarantee emails sent to addresses hosted by Rackspace are not going to be bounced to the sender. This is a first for us, as we’ve rarely (if ever) heard of this happening at a company like Rackspace.
Ashworth Consulting offers a backup MX service that will queue your email in the event your mail server is ever down. The email passes through our powerful email servers for SPAM filtering, virus scanning and will not deliver the messages until the system has determined that it’s safe to do so. In a nutshell, your email is almost unbreakable in terms of stability and reliability.
We would like to assure our customers that email and data are 100% operational due to the measures we have taken to ensure data redundancy and reliability. None of our services are affected by the hurricane at this time and your websites and email will continue to remain unhindered by these events.