Not every company has had to face a major event every five years of its existence. But that’s exactly what PEER 1 Hosting had to not only over come, but also in doing so thrive. And along the way, win accolades from its clients.
Take the 2003 blackout that shutdown the Northeast United States and Toronto, where one of PEER 1 Hosting’s datacenters is located. In running a datacenter, when force majeure—an act of God—strikes, its easy for people and companies to throw in the towel and go home. But when you are running a datacenter, where customers around the world are accessing clients’ data 24/7, PEER 1 Hosting improvised on the spot to find a way. They overcame the first disaster, helping keep the Toronto Star Newspaper running on PEER 1Hosting’s backup generators.
Then last year, superstorm Sandy hit New York City hard. PEER 1 Hosting, like a few other datacenters, have a colocation facility in downtown Manhattan to service their customers with low latency and proximity. Unfortunately for them, they were a direct hit for the worst flooding in New York in a century.
Old New York City building codes—and they need to be upgraded—call for backup generators to be installed in the cellars and basements. If not tied down or anchored to the floor, in a flooded room they will float and possibly rupture lines and feeds. In PEER 1Hosting’s Wall Street location the flooding of the cellar banked the backup generator. With another generator on the roof, Mike Mazzei, the lead datacenter manager, began to strategize. What would it take to keep the rooftop generator running?
The answer: diesel fuel.
The next morning, Mazzei was able to get a fuel truck shipment delivered with some spare parts from Brooklyn. But hauling the 55-gallon drum up 18 stories of stairs was an onerous task. What could they do? One employee spurted out, “What about a bucket brigade?”
With that simple suggestion became the solution. For the next couple of days, PEER 1 Hosting delivered the buckets of diesel fuel to the rooftop generator, filling a reserve drum up there to ensure that the generator wouldn’t shutdown. Amazingly enough, some of their clients pitched in to ensure that their sites could be accesses for their customers.
From Bucket Brigade to Growth
The human story of the ‘Bucket Bridge’ became a 17-minute documentary, showing the spirit and character of the PEER 1 Hosting employees, customers and partners, who pitched in, sleeping only a couple of hours a day in a storage closet without complaint. They cracked jokes instead of griped. Days later when the water receded, they learned that six people died in their block, which put their resolve and teamwork in perspective.
[For viewing of the documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JliTnAKzmQ&feature=youtu.be]
Since I met PEER 1 Hosting at the 2011 Cloud West Expo in Santa Clara, CA, when they unveiled Zunicore, its “professional-grade cloud built for the enterprise,” the hosting company’s cloud strategy expanded.
“We have public cloud solutions, which cater to two different users,” Robert Miggins, Senior VP of Business Development at PEER 1 Hosting, said. “First, we have a Xen-based public cloud that appeals to start-ups and more technical, do-it-yourself users. Second, our enterprise-grade Mission Critical Cloud is a partnership with Seattle’s Tier 3 that we launched in fall 2012. It’s a VMware-based enterprise cloud, single tenant, and fully managed, high-touch cloud. For our customers that need greater service, more security and redundancy, we needed a VMware public cloud offering.”
From a September 2012 press release, the partnership of the VMware cloud read: “High availability SLA, automatic backup, and offsite replication available on pay-as-you-use basis.”
“What Hurricane Sandy showed us was the need to be prepared. Yes, Mike Mazzei improvised at the PEER 1Hosting datacenter down on Wall Street. He found a way to keep the bucket brigade going for 18-hours. That story reinforces who we are. We worry about the problems, so our customers can realize the possibilities of the Internet,” Miggins explained.
“The Mission Critical Cloud today has a fail-over to another cloud. Instead of colocation, the client can choose to use our disaster recovery offering with the press of the button. If another event like Hurricane Sandy heads their way, they can fail-over to Chicago or another one of our datacenters. So for the next Sandy equivalent that kind of backup becomes a different story about survival,” he said.
“When was the Mission Critical Cloud launched?” I asked.
“April 2 of this year. It was under construction when Sandy hit,” Robert Miggins said
He followed that update with the growth of Zunicore, by adding: “It’s all Xen-based hypervisors. None of the enterprise class features. It wasn’t architected to be a premium to Amazon’s AWS cloud or to compete with Savvis Cloud or Terremark.”
On Tier 3, he emphasized that the partnership, “Got us to the market a lot faster. Now our public cloud story has two pieces, two offerings.”
“The tech entrepreneur can do-it-yourself with a startup’s tight budget. And the cloud offering for the IT business professional, the IT department, where downtime is a bad idea. For them, there’s a need to mitigate risk, not take risk. Now with two different buyers, we have products to appeal to each one of them.”
The other story for PEER 1 Hosting, besides being the “most human tech company on the web in the cloud, is the story of choice. It’s about creating and giving choice to customers. It’s about transparent fee structure, where if the customer stays within the PEER 1 Hosting ecosystem of 18 datacenters they’re not charged for bandwidth. It’s about mixed environments, too—a dedicated bare metal or a multi-tenant approach. It depends on the client’s needs,” Miggins said.
On the subject of the cloud not being as secure as some on-premise servers, he understands the common criticisms of being unsecure, can’t trust it, multi-tenant, virtualization, who is on the same hardware?
“I refute the notion of security. The cloud turns that argument upside-down. The cloud is even more secure. Today, with fail-over at the click of a button, it’s disaster-proof. PEER 1 Hosting’s cloud hosting solutions are far more robust than what you can run in-house. We can turn on disaster recovery remotely and it just happens. We have DDoS mitigation tools, intrusion prevent barriers. In my view, the cloud is even more secure than in-house,” he said passionately.
For those foreign entities concerned about running their data in the U.S., because of the recent NSA findings, but still want to do business in North America, PEER 1 Hostinginvites those firms to look at their north-of-the-border datacenters in Canada as an alternative.