This is a guest post written and contributed by Kevin Woodberry, a Rackspace customer who works with SME clients in Colchester, Essex, England, offering online marketing strategies and solutions. Catch up with Kevin at http://woodberry.me.uk
Hi, my name’s Kevin Woodberry. I’m a web designer and online marketer. I live in Colchester, Essex, England.
I use and highly recommend Rackspace Cloud Sites even though Rackspace is based some 4,568 miles away from Essex in San Antonio, Texas. I wouldn’t be without them and here’s why.
Back in 2009 I left my job as Online Manager at Vodafone UK in search of my own online destiny. In true entrepreneurial spirit I married my web skills and telecom knowledge together and built the only international SIM card comparison website.
The aim was simple: give travellers a free comparison service to find the cheapest solution to make and receive calls around the world.
I knew this service would appeal mostly to the US market, due to the high roaming fees you poor American folk incur when using your domestic cell phone abroad.
This led me to search around for US-based hosting companies. This wasn’t a prerequisite, more of a personal preference. I like using a localized host for the target geographic location, mostly for optimized performance and SEO. A quick search for “US-based web hosting” returned a plethora of US web hosting companies offering services from as little as five bucks a month.
But one company that instantly stood out was Rackspace. I was aware of the brand and global presence. Hmm, global brands usually equal high prices, I thought… so skipped onto the next company.
Yet, in the back of my mind I kept seeing the strapline I’d just seen on the Rackspace Cloud Sites landing page: Support and Scalability!
Heck, what was I thinking? Cost isn’t really an issue … the way I saw it, I was going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg with my comparison website, right?
Support and scalability, however, were of the utmost importance. I certainly didn’t want my site crashing when it started getting a gazillion hits a day, so I needed a solution that scaled with demand. I also wanted the best 24/7 support available as I was conscious of the time zone difference.
I’d developed my comparison website in ASP.Net/MS SQL and I had already planned to bolt-on a WordPress blog. Rackspace’s Windows and Linux hosting “on the same domain” sounded ideal, so I took the leap and made contact.
I received a quote the same day and was pleasantly surprised; it was more affordable than I originally thought. It wasn’t the five bucks a month other providers offered, but I wanted better service than five bucks a month can buy. I am, thankfully, a firm believer that you get what you pay for.
Setup was a breeze and within 24 hours (darn DNS propagation time); my website www.compare-call-rates.com was LIVE, for the world to see.
After a very long year, I soon realized that although my comparison site was uber useful for the cost conscious international traveller, it wasn’t going to make me my millions. In fact, it wasn’t even covering the monthly hosting costs. Time for “Plan B.”
As a freelance web designer, I’d naturally built up a healthy client list over the years. Most were UK sites, hosted with a large UK host that I’ll refrain from naming here.. Over the years I’d had the odd problem with this hosting company where support tickets were not answered, system limitations restricted development, CRONS failed to back-up databases, etc … etc.
Now, the beauty of Rackspace Cloud Sites is capacity. I had a whopping 500GB of bandwidth and 50GB of storage per month to play with while my comparison site used up a fraction of this. The Cloud Sites account also allowed me to host unlimited domains, create unlimited sites and spin up unlimited databases on demand. For designers like me who work mainly with SMEs (low bandwidth sites) the solution was obvious. Move all my clients over to Rackspace.
What about the geo-location performance and SEO hit, Kev? I hear you cry.
Well, as I mentioned before, this is just personal preference but to be 100 percent sure and rest my conscience, I put it to the latency test with one of my own UK websites.
The result? Absolutely zero performance impact, according to my eyes and various performance testing applications I used before and after the server relocation. If there was any latency degradation, it is microscopic.
From an SEO standpoint, I was comfortable moving my UK clients over, due to the fact they all provide much stronger signals to “Big G,” such as ccTLD’s, UK language, UK phone numbers and addresses, which would override any bias towards server IP geo-location signals.
Time to move my clients’ websites over to Rackspace.
With the tech support guys available on instant chat 24/7 I had all my clients sites moved over within a few days. One feature I absolutely loved, and was a godsend on one occasion was the .snapshot feature. This allows you to revert files or entire directories back to an earlier version in time.
I’ve tried too many UK hosting companies over the years; lost clients and gained a few grey hairs along the way. Sure, Texas is not just down the road but if you can accept that “miles ain’t nothing but a number” then you’ve struck gold with Rackspace.
Overall — awesome service, awesome product, awesome support and one very happy customer.
Check out more stories from and about Rackspace customers.