CARI.net for dedicated and hosted cloud servers

CARI.net

8929 Complex Drive, San Diego, CA 92123
(888) 221-5902  

Friction Factor = LOW FRICTION
Value = HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

If you are looking for server hosting I can suggest a good choice. Cari.net offers cloud servers, dedicated servers, and colocation service.

Since the sudden deterioration of Digital Fortress service in 2012 we had to find a replacement company. We found a good one.

On Hosting Services

For the last three decades I have been involved in the development of cloud-based software applications. In the pre-Web days this was accomplished via packet-switching networks like Infonet. With the growth of the Web, piggybacked onto the Internet, we gained much more convenient access to applications. The advancements in the Web since those days has, of course, been phenomenal.

If you want to create your own cloud-based application or just a regular website, you'll need a server for it that is connected to the Internet. Many companies do this with their own equipment, connections, and technical resources. Some even run web servers from home.

Your basic server hosting options:

Option 1: Roll your own.
Expectation: Pain—way more than you counted on unless this is a special area of interest and expertise for you and you are willing to have the equivalent of a costly high maintenance pet that must be cared for every day 24/7 for life (or you have the resources to pay someone else to handle all the maintenance, upgrades, babysitting, etc.) and your either have strong physical security for the server or that is somehow not a concern.

Option 2: Subscribe to a shared hosting service.
Expectation: Reduced cost, reduced performance, reduced options. I use this option via Godaddy.com for this publication. The cost is miniscule, I don't have to configure my own leased dedicated servers to run it (Wordpress hosting is a cookie-cutter solution at Godaddy), I don't have to worry about it interfering with my business applications, and, as you may have noticed, performance sometimes stinks.

Option 3: Co-locate server and related equipment that you own at a hosting service.
Expectation: Why? Your purchase cost is much less than the cost to lease the equipment from the hosting company. But then you are responsible for providing replacement equipment when needed (which can put you out of business for an extended period unless you maintain replacement equipment on site).

Option 4: Lease a dedicated managed server(s) from a quality hosting service.
Expectation: Angels sing if you make the right decision on the hosting company. If not, let's not quibble about it—you just reserved a condo in hell.

Option 5: Hosted cloud server(s).
Expectation: Angels sing with heavenly symphony, but see previous comment about making the right decision for the hosting company. I have visited hosting hell. You do not want to go there.

With a hosted cloud server you enjoy the benefits of a dedicated server with much greater convenience and lower cost.

A hosted cloud server is a virtual server. The server, including firewall if desired, can be set up in minutes. The hosting company maintains backups of its cloud server infrastructure. So if something happens to your virtual server, it can be restored or "components" replaced very quickly, greatly minimizing the single point of failure risks of hardware failures. Changing server resources such as RAM and disk space is a simple process that can be managed almost immediately from your control panel (versus a process of ordering and waiting for the installation of new hardware).

With modern technology, the virtual servers in a hosted cloud service have as good performance as their dedicated server counterparts.

For HIPAA compliance, the law is not yet clear on whether a hosted cloud server can meet the requirements. A hosted cloud server is on "shared" hardware, however, it is secure and may pass a HIPAA audit, maybe even likely if a private cloud is set up (somewhat higher cost).

Hosted cloud servers are more easily scalable and, like dedicated servers, can be used for special requirements such as geographic redundancy, load balancing, and data warehousing.

My rather strong opinion about server hosting: If yours is a business application and you're serious about its success, then you be the expert in your business and let the right server hosting company be your expert in that part of the business. I have zero interest in providing my own Internet server hosting solution, even if it saves significantly on the cost. Setting up a server as an Internet-based host is not all that big a deal. Keeping it up and maintained is a very big deal.

Do you really want to be on call 24/7/365 and have to deal with IIS, DNS, and IP settings and changes, third party software management, email server configuration and maintenance, SMTP changes, data backup chores, operating system upgrades, security settings and rules, and the myriad other details that must be managed for the smooth operation of your servers?

With our hosted cloud servers we get RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol) access. So my developers and I have full, secure, unrestricted access to our servers. We can do anything we need to do, but because of CARI.net's expertise and great customer service attitude, we don't have to worry about any of the server maintenance and management. We can spend our time on the things that are directly important to our business. Besides, CARI.net techs do this regularly and can do it much faster and with less chance of error than we could do. Well, I can say that about CARI.net, but the reality with some other companies I've tried has been just the opposite.

Tip: don't base your hosting decision on the base cost of the hosting service. That is the smallest of your costs. It's all the rest that may be the difference between being profitable and sane.

Pick the Right Server Hosting Company

First, let's make some assumptions about what a server hosting company must have just to be considered. Your candidate server hosting company will have racks filled and to be filled with rack mounted computers and network gear in a climate controlled facility. It will have high bandwidth Internet-backbone connections with redundant service. It will have a multimillion dollar state-of-the-art network operations center (NOC) with physical access security and serious uninterruptable power backup capabilities tied to battery and filtered generators. It will have top line data backup facilities and off-site data backup rotations.

Then comes the huge differentiator—your server hosting company will have competent technical talent.

Over years I've tried a variety of dedicated leased server hosting companies including what was, at least at the time, the largest in the country, Interland. I blame them for my bald dome. I couldn't even begin to convey the degree of contempt I acquired over the extreme incompetency these companies exhibited time after time. I could never trust them to do even the simplest task correctly. If I needed, for example, a simple DNS change, I came to expect that my site would be down for periods ranging from hours to days as a result of it being done incorrectly, and then incorrectly again when their mistake was "fixed"...even if I exactly spelled out to them what to do. It got to where I couldn't trust them to manage my servers and I had to do it all myself via RDP connection.

What is the Low Friction Solution?

With this single recommendation I can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in grief, lost employee time, sacrificed customer goodwill, and real dollars. It will far more than cover your cost for subscribing to this publication. Wait... there is no subscription cost here. Ok, just send me 10% of what you figure you've saved.

Go to CARI.net.

We had been with our previous vendor for several years and enjoyed outstanding service. That company was sold and the new owners do not have a clue on how to run a hosting company. So we had to once again make a change.

The prospect of changing server hosting companies was exceedingly worrisome. Like developers, they all talk a great talk and know all the right things to say. It is a very, very expensive experience to discover that they cannot walk their talk.

I researched a number of candidate companies and was very impressed by three. But the decision came down to a recommendation from one I trust. Our development team leader had been using CARI.net for several years and praised their service. We made the change to CARI.net. And now I can say after a few months working with them that they are indeed a good company. They are a relatively small company that offers a high degree of personal service.

Like our previous vendor (before they were sold), CARI.net has excellent facilities, they have the right people, and their people are highly competent. When I submit a request on CARI.net's client control panel, it is completed in a timely manner, it is done right (the first time), and it is done with a wonderfully positive customer service attitude. Just now I opened a support ticket regarding our advanced DNS services and I had a response within minutes.

CARI.net is very competitively priced...even more so, significantly more so, than our previous vendor.

CARI.net does not offer email hosting. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I switched all of our email service to Google Apps for Business. Now my email, contacts, and calendar are automatically synced on all of my devices, desktop and mobile. It works beautifully and is economical for business use at $5/mo/user. Unlike some of Google's offerings, Google Apps for Business offers customer support that is second to none. Period. Via toll-free call, it is fast and easy to get to a human at their El Salvador facility who is an expert in all aspects of email service. They stick with you until the task is completed to satisfaction and they go above and beyond the call of duty. I am truly amazed by these folks.

When we are ready, CARI.net will be able to scale our server farm to add file servers, geographically dispersed and balanced mirrors, and anything else we need in the network and Internet world because they really know this stuff.

Cari.net Cloud Datacenter server racks for dual power, dual switching, and custom or non-standard server designs

Cari.net Cloud Datacenter server racks for dual power, dual switching, and custom or non-standard server designs

Cari.net: one of their backup generators

Cari.net: one of their backup generators

Cari.net technician working on servers and racks in the Cloud Datacenter
Cari.net technician working on servers and racks in the Cloud Datacenter
Server POD tops, part of a CARI.net custom creation
Server POD tops, part of a CARI.net custom creation

 
Our previous hosting company

Digital Forest was bought out in 2012 changed its name to Digital Fortress. The new owners and new staff have totally changed the corporate culture and quality of service in a very negative way. Response time, with some exceptions, has gone into the toilet. Even for emergency situations, of which I have been experiencing multiple times now, response time is measured in many hours. When I call to get support after hours I reach a technician who listens and then reports that the help I need is in another department (even though I called the number I was given for my support department), telling me that I would have to be transferred. I would then have to wait for someone to come in at the normal start of business (noon my time) before the issue could be resolved. And then it is often hours more. I also learned that this revised company, being in the server hosting business, has nobody on staff who can handle simple SQL Server admin.

We started getting charged hundreds of dollars more than we should have. Once the error was acknowledged I waited months for credit to be applied and it never was completely. 
Not good. It is a shame considering how incredible the service was from Digital Forest for so many years.