Acronoc Closing Houston Data Center


Acronoc Closing Houston Data Center

Posted on Oct 4, 2010 by Paul White

As some of you might have noticed my website and blog were down for a few days between Sep 28, 2010 - Sep 30, 2010.  Both my website and my client's are hosted on my colocated server, that WAS colocated at Acronoc's Houston Datacenter.  To make a long story short my server is now colocated with Internap.

Acronoc Houston Datacenter Outages.

This was the 2nd major outage in the past 6 weeks.  The first one I was down for over 2 days.  This time I was down for 3 days.  It would have been much longer if I didn't pull my server from the data center.

How I started with Acronoc

It all started back in September of 2009 when I was shopping around for a datacenter to colocate my new server.  I had lived in a world of 30 clients each with their own shared hosting, VPS or dedicated hosting account.  Even though this was nice because it took the liability of downtime off my hands, the poorly managed hardware at HostMySite.com / Hosting.com and Godaddy, resulted in me spending several hours each week on the phones getting issues resolved.  It was like renting an apartment where you think have a nice quite place to live, only to learn you have the tribute hair band living next door.  I finally decided that if I was going to be getting the lip service from my clients about the sites being down, I at least wanted to have control over the hardware.  So I built my own server and prepared to colocate it. 

I searched around the Houston area to find the perfect data center.  Unfortunately most datacenters don't work with individuals who want to host a single 1U rack server.  They only deal with guys who want to rent an entire 42U cabinet.  I wanted a price I could rely on, and a company that was not looking to nickle an dime me.  A google ad brought me to Acronoc, where I was able to chat with their CEO.  He gave me a quote of $65 / month which included 1U colo, 200 GB transfer on a 100 Mbit port. Power, Free remote reboots, and Free remote hands if someone was at the datacenter.  It sounded great.  So our relationship began.  Later after months of no complaints, I moved one of my larger clients to my server and upped my plan to 500 GB of transfer.  this raised my price up to $89 / month.  Everything worked  flawlessly for months.  I was always able to get a hold of the support staff, and little things like RDNS updates usually were done within minutes of being requested.  I was a very happy man.

However in early August the first outage occurred.  Cogent their data provider had pulled service to the datacenter.  24 hours later they were back online. But during that time the outage brought many questions to mind.  The first was why did the datacenter only have a single data provider?  A good datacenter is all about redundancy.  You should always have at least 2 data providers in case one provider goes down.  In this case it turns out the datacenter only had 1 provider.  The CEO claimed it was a paper pushing issue, but others believed that they were late on paying their bill.  Either way it left a bad taste in the mouth of many customers. and some customers I suspect left because of it.  However during this time the CEO did his best to maintain communication with his customers, so I stuck with them.  This was a mistake.

Acronoc Down with Major Outage


Tuesday September 28, 2010

I first noticed that the server was down at 9:00AM on Tuesday Morning.  I tried calling the CEO of Acronoc, but he wasn't responding to my calls.  I Texted him and no response.  I was able to communicate with other customers from acronoc using a message board that we had all gathered on during the last outage.  One of them said the CEO had told him they would be back up shortly.  By 5PM I had pretty much given up.  I packed my server box into my car, and drove down to the datacenter.  I already had another datacenter ready to take me in.  I just needed to pull my server.  When I got there I told the guards that I was there to meet the CEO and to pickup my server.  They said to go ahead, so I went up to the 12th floor where the datacenter was, and I noticed that non of the employee's cars were up there.  I knocked on the door and no answer.  The data center was still getting power and the Air Conditioner was still running.  I once again tried to call and text the CEO, no response.  Then I went down 1 level to a work shed they rented.  On the door I found a notice of default.  Turns out Acronoc was behind on their rent, and the landlord of the building had changed the locks to the door.  So I went downstairs and talked to the gaurds.  They said they could not let me in and I would have to talk with the building manager, but he was gone for the day ( after 5 PM ).  So I went home, and updated my clients of what was going on.  Finally I ran a Tracert command on my domain.  I then noticed how all the IPs had been rerouted to the Florida Datacenter.  To me this was the first sign that Acronoc had abandoned its Houston colocated customers.

Wednesday September 29, 2010

I got up early and called the Building Manager.  I explained to him that I needed to get my server out of there. He said I would need to show proof of ownership to pull it out.  So I printed out every document I could that proved my relationship with Acronoc, and that I owned the server.  I went down and meet with him.  I showed him my papers. He said he would send this to their attorney and have them look it over.  The Attorney came back saying I would need to get a release from the CEO of Acronoc to pull my server.  At this time I still had not been able to reach the CEO or anyone with Acronoc.  Plus the CEO's cell phone was giving me a disconnected message, which was a really big red flag. So I contacted my lawyer to see if he knew of some magical way to getting my server out of there.  There was but it would take at least 2 days and cost me about $3000.  It was basically pushing a court order through the legal system.  2 days was too long.  Later in the day I noticed that Acronoc's website was back up and running.  Looks like the company had finally got it's own website back online from the Florida Data center.  I assumed that this probably meant their mail server was back up too.  I was right, After emailing the support contact I got a response from the CEO.  He actually moved pretty quick getting me what I needed. I had my lawyer write up a letter, and all I needed was for the CEO to sign it.

Thusday, September 30, 2010

by 10:30 AM I got the letter signed by the CEO.  I forward it to the building manger, and within an hour he said to come on down to pull my server.  When I got there I found other guys in the lobby who were in the same boat as me 2 days ago.  They were just starting the process of getting their server out.  When I reached the datacenter I was surprized to find the datacenter still very full.  I would say it was still 75% full in there.  Judging from the various models and sizes of servers, I would say there are quite a few Colocated guys like me who still need to pick up their equipment. Finally I got my server out, and drove it 2 blocks to the Internap datacenter.  I will tell you all about Internap and FastPCNet in a later blog post.

Summary

This was by far 3 of the most stressful days of my life.  I am very thankful that the building manager of the Wedge Tower was willing to work with me to get my server out.  If he had been a dick, he could have held my server as hostage for up to 30 days while they worked out their legal issues with Acronoc.  But he wasn't.  He understood what relationship I had with Acronoc and was sympathetic.  As for my thoughts on Acronoc, I feel they could have prepared their colocated clients.  Give us some kind of warning that they were leaving, so we could make our arrangements.  Once I reached them, I felt they did their best to get me what I needed so I could get my server out, and I am thankful for this.  I wish them the best in Florida. 

If you are looking to colocate a server,  don't let price be the determining factor.  Make sure the data center has multiple data providers, and can provide power via UPS or generators.  I am now paying more than twice what I was paying before, but its needed to ensure my server does not go down.  I have gone out of my way to build a highly redundant server, but that means nothing if your data center doesn't follow the same philosophy.

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Discussion

Karthik | Nov 5, 2010 11:59 PM
Abandoned their customers phew what were they think at that time? nice to see that you got everything sorted out anyways good luck with your new DC.
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