The Benefits of Local Hosting
I’ll have been with Armor for two years come October, and I’ve been our Server Admin for a year and a half at this point. In that time, I’ve dealt with clients hosted everywhere from Arizona to Germany, and I can tell you that, without a doubt, nothing compares to being able to walk downtown and talk to your hosting company; nothing compares to being able to walk upstairs and log into the server terminal and poke around, even if the SSH server isn’t running.
There are concrete benefits to knowing who is running your website on a first name basis, and they have more than a little to do with what a large national company can’t do for you—so, let’s talk about that.
As many of our current clients will know, in July of 2017, we had a historically bad week where a sustained DDOS attack took down our server and forced us to reconsider a lot of our security strategies. What our customers might be less aware of is that for a time between then and now, we utilized a Virtualized Server through a larger company to keep our clients up and running while we rebuilt our infrastructure. From a practical standpoint, this meant that for many client requests, I had to call up that company and sit on the phone waiting for the first available person to take my call, and then tell me that what I was asking for was against policy or needed the approval of someone higher up the food chain.
This was true even with relatively simple requests like, “can I see the logs of an email with this ID, so I can recommend a course of action to my client on how to avoid issues in the future?” And there’s a simple reason why they couldn’t: their infrastructure is too big. They run a security risk by giving me access to the logs directly, and they don’t have the time or the manpower to hunt down the information I was looking for.
And that’s the rub. It is not profitable for a company of that size to offer comprehensive customer service. It involves a level of dedication and client familiarity that their 24-hour customer service policies trade for constant availability.
Whereas, let’s use Armor as an example, you may not be able to get ahold of me on a 24-hour basis, and I may not be able to get you the information immediately, but I can tell you exactly why your email didn’t go through, or why your website got hacked, or offer suggestions on how you might raise your traffic or lower your load times. There aren’t as many of us, so we are able to get far more familiar with our clients, their needs, and their data. There are pros and cons to both, certainly, but the way I see it, sometimes the customer service at those larger companies is designed to just placate their customers, to make them feel like they are being served, but none of the people who answer the phone are actually capable of doing anything about 75% of your problems—and useless but responsive customer service is worse than having to wait for real service.
Accountability and Accessibility
Here’s another thing we ran into while we were working with that larger company. It’s very hard to motivate a large company like that to move quickly, and it’s very hard to convince them that they are in the wrong. In any situation where you are negotiating as a small part of a massive whole, you have little to no leverage to influence any kind of change. Those companies also tend to provide a very generic one-size-fits-all solution for problems, and if you happen to be a client that the solution doesn’t work well for, tough luck because that’s what your price of admission is getting you.
Look, it’s just a simple fact that a smaller company has more of a vested interest in your business and will be more accommodating because of it. It’s also a fact that someone looking you in the face is going to be easier to talk to and communicate with than someone who only hears from you over email or the phone. If GoDaddy went down, would you be able to carry a USB drive to their offices and get a full backup of your website, or would you just have to wait until their service came back up and then try to take a backup through their online backup system?
But it’s not just that you get access to us, it’s that we will have an opportunity to understand your business and your needs better than any customer service rep at a larger company could dream of. We have an opportunity to not only be who you come to for your problems but the absolute authority on your website and your technology.
This is arguably the biggest advantage of our service over national companies. Because we manage the server, because we deploy the technology, because we build the hardware, because we program our solutions, and for many many other reasons, we have the flexibility to provide a service designed to fit your exact needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all product, and in 2018, with technology constantly advancing and expanding, the possibilities of running your business, if nothing else is clear, it’s that one size does not fit all.