Now the move is pretty much complete, I’ve got a few more details of the move for anyone who’s interested.
Carsurvey.org has been hosted with the same company for about 4 years. They were originally known as Ev1Servers, but were acquired by The Planet, and in my experience, service proceeded to go downhill from that point.
After lots of research, I settled on SoftLayer, who seem to be picking up a lot of disgruntled The Planet customers.
Initial reasons for choosing SoftLayer:
- Pretty good feedback on forums such as WebHostingTalk
- Large choice of operating systems, including RedHat Enterprise Linux 5.0 (the old server was running version 4.0, and I wanted to move to the newer version, complete with PHP5 and MySQL 5
- Huge flexibility in hardware configuration
- Quad core Xenon processors – these are hugely powerful for the money. The new server has a single quad core Xeon at 2.4Ghz (Kentsfield, Core 2), compared to the old server, which had two single core 2.4Ghz Xeons (the old NetBurst type)
- Almost any RAID configuration you could reasonably want
- Very competitive pricing. For the new server, which has a quad core processor, 2Gb of RAM, and 3x 150Gb Raptor SATA disks in a hot-swappable RAID 5 array, it’s costing $279 a month (including various other sundry options). That compares very well to the $348 a month I was paying for the old server at The Planet, which only had two disks (in a mirror; not hot-swappable), and two single core processors
- Support forums available. I’m always suspicious of companies that don’t dare have support forums
Observations following the move:
- The Planet have been getting more and more aggressive with their marketing emails (they should do something about their support instead). Thankfully SoftLayer don’t seem to be bothering me in the same way
- I had need of SoftLayer’s support when I first got the new server. It was OK. Quick response times (unlike The Planet), and reasonable responses, although they took a few attempts to fix an admittedly obscure hardware issue. There’s room for improvement, but SoftLayer were much better than my recent experiences with The Planet
- The new SoftLayer server has far more sophisticated management facilities than my old The Planet server, including backend VPN access, and full control over an IPMI card, which allows for easy monitoring of the hardware, and KVM console access (useful if you make a mistake while securing your network connections). These new facilities took some time to learn, but the extra security and control were worth the effort
- I do miss the live text chat with support that The Planet offered. The Planet’s solution was badly implemented, but it’s often easier to use text chat support, than explain things over the telephone. It would be good if SoftLayer could offer this facility
In conclusion, so far I’m pretty happy with SoftLayer. Carsurvey.org is running on a more powerful and configurable server, with reasonable support, for less money than I was paying at The Planet.