Goodbye Bluehost

Back in April, we decided to move website hosting for this site to Bluehost. We had outgrown our old hosting service and needed a more robust solution. On recommendation from some other Bluehost customers, we moved all of our commercial sites to Bluehost.

Over the past 11 months, we have had intermittent problems with Bluehost. My webmaster indicated that Bluehost would go offline more often that she was comfortable with, which apparently affects our rankings with the major search engines.  There were other times that our site would come to a grind halt, no doubt as a result of too much traffic from our ‘neighbors’ (we had shared hosting).

Not satisfied with the anecdotal downtime data I was receiving, I setup free monitoring on one of our Bluehost sites using Pingdom, so that I could measure Bluehost’s reliability. After all, what gets measured gets managed (or replaced). Pingdom checks every 5 minutes to see if my sites are up and sends me a text message when it is down and again when it comes up again. I set this up Monday, July 29th, 2013.

So 4 am on Friday, August 2nd, I started receiving text messages: site down, site up, site down.  Over the next 13 hours, it must have been hell at Bluehost, and our sites were down for at least 8 hours, and probably closer to 10 hours.  In the end, it appeared to be a network issue that cascaded throughout their data center and affected Bluehost, Host Gator and Just Host, all of which are owned by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Fortunately, we had already been researching options other than Bluehost.  We moved to another hosting company, upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS) along the way, and one not owned by (EIG).

What are the lessons learned?  There are several:

  • Keep your registrar different from your host. If your host goes down, like Bluehost did, and you need to change nameservers (where your host is), you can point traffic to your new host.  I was able to migrate the matricellc.com site within a few hours.
  • Backup often and store the backups somewhere other than your host. Some of our sites are backed up daily, others weekly. Worst case scenario is that we have to restore to an older backup, but it is sufficient if it keeps the sites up.
  • Monitor your hosting company with a third-party tool or service. I have created a spreadsheet for monitoring uptime, based on down/up alerts I receive from Pingdom.
  • Follow Twitter feeds when issues arise. This may seem obvious to some, but some of us are not heavy Twitter users, so this idea only came to us after the issue was nearly resolved.
  • Be ready for disaster.

I am guessing that a lot of people will be moving away from Bluehost, Host Gator and Just Host as a result of this outage. I’m sure the losses for their customers is in the millions of dollars.  The costs that come to my mind are:

  • Lost sales from e-commerce sites;
  • Lost advertising costs for those people who clicked ads on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other advertisers;
  • Lost productivity from those who manage and use the sites that are hosted there;
  • Opportunity costs.

This may appear on the surface to be a knee-jerk reaction, but it was really just the event that pushed us over the edge. We had three live sites (one of which is heavily visited), and one development site that were affected. I find it ironic that their hosting went down in the same week that I started monitoring.  So we migrated this site to a VPS and we hope that you enjoy the speed and reliability. I can tell you that we do.

11 Years and Going Strong

It’s hard to believe, but it has been a year since we celebrated Matrice Consulting’s 10 year anniversary and relaunched this website.  Although it has been difficult to keep up with the blog posts over the past two months due to professional commitments, I can tell you that we are still going strong, quietly going about our work to provide the best service and solutions to our clients.

Here are some of the highlights of our past year:

  • On pace for record year in 2013 for gross sales and net income;
  • Entered into new partnerships;
  • Contract renewals with existing clients;
  • Expansion of management consulting operations, in the area of new business development.

What’s coming up this next year?  This is where it gets interesting.  In February, we announced a ‘calm before the storm’ and that changes were coming.  Although on the surface you cannot see those changes, you can probably feel them if you’ve worked with us.  Without revealing too much, we have worked on some new internal projects that have added revenue streams, including providing new services which we will announce over the coming months.

Life Magazine Cover - Roaring Twenties

We’re partying like it’s 1923.

We, like many other companies in our niche, are preparing for the changes that have come about with Oracle Fusion HCM Applications, which is turning out to be more fun than expected.

The next twelve months will be exciting.  We will celebrate tonight, as is our custom, and then get right back to it in the morning.  I would like to thank our clients, partners, staff, and family for helping to make this possible.  We are already on track for our best year ever and we couldn’t and can’t do it without you.

All the best,
Mark Pescatrice

Founder and CEO, Matrice Consulting, LLC

Moving Day

Univac I Controller's Console

It was time to upgrade to something a little faster.

Today was moving day for matricellc.com.  We didn’t quite expect to move, but performance with our old site was so bad that we could not wait any longer. We moved our site to bluehost.com, which we also use for hosting other sites and have had excellent performance.  I had considering going hardcore and deploying on AWS (Amazon Web Services), but I thought better of it. That would have been the equivalent of swatting a fly with small tactical nuclear device.  We needed more power and speed, but not that much.

If you were one of the unfortunate visitors to our site that has suffered through slow page loads, I apologize and thank you for your patience.  We may have some intermittent hiccups in the next day or two, but please be patient and I promise we will have it worked out.

I would like to give a nod to the fine folks at Life in the Grid for their outstanding WordPress plugin, Duplicator. This plugin made it possible to migrate our site from one web server to another, on a completely new database, in less than 30 minutes.  It was up and running with nary a hitch.

If you are interested in how we did this, let me know and I’ll write a post.

Using Your Power For Good, Not Evil

xkcd ExternalitiesAs some of you may know, I am a regular reader and fan of the web-comic xkcd.  As of this writing, xkcd.com has Alexa rankings of 2,100 globally and 765 in the US.  For the uninitiated, this means that xkcd.com, a web-comic, is the 765th most popular website in the US, which is pretty good for a site that only updates content four times per week (3 comics, 1 ‘What If?).  That means it generates a lot of visitors. By way of comparison, this website is ranked 11,700,869 globally.

When you generate that much traffic, you have a regular audience, and when you have a regular audience, you have power.  You can present any number of things, good, evil, or indifferent.  On April Fools Day,  Randall Munroe decided to do something good with his power.  First, his web comic was updating periodically throughout the day with dynamically changing text on the same illustration.  This was no doubt his clever April Fools joke on his readers.

There are always two punchlines, one in the comment and one in the mouseover text (‘title’ for those who read and speak HTML). The mouseover text on the image of the dog read: “The dog gains a pound for every $10 donated to the Wikimedia Foundation via this link. Currently at $xxxxx.xx”

xkcd.com Donation Mouseover Text

Clicking the image takes you to the Wikimedia Foundation’s donation site, where you can donate to the non-profit to keep their wonderful projects, such as Wikipedia, up and running.  As of early this morning when I took this screenshot, $41,457.11 had been raised.

This is powerful and this is good.  There was no overt plea for money, and it was subtle enough to be missed by casual observers. Mr. Monroe knows his audience and it great to see how so many people stepped forward to contribute.

The lesson here is that we all have some power, some influence to effect change, to do good. So go do some good.

~*~

Matrice Consulting is proud to support Wikimedia.  To donate, click the picture in the middle of the post.

Website Updates matricellc.com

Old Computer Terminal

It may be time for an upgrade.

We are happy to announce the release of the latest version of matricellc.com, version 5.1 **. This minor release provides both technology and functional updates:

  • Enhancements to site navigation: Look up ^^^
  • Enhancements to the blog pages, including the addition of categories, recent posts, and cloud tags: Look left >>>
  • Updates to the website’s technology stack: Don’t look anywhere – you can’t see it, but you should feel it

We have a culture of continuous improvement here at Matrice Consulting, so this is business as usual for us. We will be rolling some cool new features for the next ‘release’, so stay tuned.

Great Idea

** I know that we aren’t producing software here. It’s just fun to apply version numbers to our website updates.