To those that generally read my blog posts over the last couple years (which isn’t a ton of posts since I don’t post much, but hope to start doing more regularly) You would be familiar with my opinions and feelings towards Hypernia Gamerservers as well as HostDime/Surpass web servers. Both of these companies have shown time and time again that they can’t handle the customers they have and don’t usually know what they are doing.
Today, we have another company to add to that list. ViLayer. While I think I still hold them to a higher level of respect than Hypernia (which isn’t hard to do), this company clearly has SEVERAL issues in how it operates its servers and its support infrastructure. As I have mentioned in my other posts, when you have a product or service to sell, you need to be able to support it. 9 times out of 10, the support you provide will make or break your relationship with a customer. You can have a mediocre product, but as long as your support kicks ass, the customer will continue to come back for it and continue to use your services, because you have shown that they matter and that you care. The issue with ViLayer is that they have less than mediocre services, as well as absolutely garbage customer support. Let’s dive in, shall we?
1.) Let’s take a look at their control panels which are hosted on different “layers” than their game server so that when ones goes down, the whole system isn’t effected. More often then not, we log into a system that simply says “Status: Uknown”. This is as much information as we can get. There is absolutely no where in the control panel that we can go to help determine if anything has happened or has caused an issue. Additionally, there is nothing we can do to fix it. Since we at GSN Gaming have AMPLE admin experience and typically manage our own servers, this is frustrating to us and makes it so that we are helpless. This issue was last seen yesterday AND today again…. Yea – two days in a row. We are at OVER 15 hours of downtime in two days, and are still fighting to get adequate support.
2.) When we see the issue above we open a “high priority” help ticket to the support staff. It always takes a MINIMUM of 5 hours to get a response from these guys and that is on a good day. We have gone 12+ and even up to 24 hours without an initial reply and when we do get a reply, it’s a trivial, broad, and unacceptable reply such as:
Very sorry about this the server is down due to a large DDOS we could offer to move you to a more protected location if you wanted? If you have any other queries or issues don’t hesitate to get in touch.
So, it took you 5 hours to realize the box was under attack and let us know about it? Your solution is to move the box somewhere else rather than to mitigate the attacks or implement null routing of large DDoS attacks? Hysterical…. That was today’s reply, let’s take a look at yesterdays:
I’m sorry that you are having problems with your Server, I have informed our server staff who will be checking the node and hope to have it resolved shortly. The server may have to be restarted to get this working and online.
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused and hope to have this resolved as soon as possible, if you have any further problems or find the Server is not up in 24 hours time please reply back on this ticket so we can can investigate further.
As for the delays,
When you create a support ticket, this ticket is added to our support ticket queue.
Each ticket has a time stamp and we go off of these timestamps to work with the oldest ticket first.
Thus allowing us to work with tickets in the order we receive them.
When a client submits a ticket and then creates a multiple tickets, multiple responses, or “bumps” the ticket before staff has a chance to respond, this actually pushes the ticket the end of our ticket queue.
This causes delays in us responding to tickets and can cause clients to wait over 24 hours for a response.
We ask that you please allow support to respond to your ticket before creating a new ticket or making a response. This will prevent any delays and will allow us to respond in a timely manner.
If you have any other queries or issues don’t hesitate to get in touch.
So, it took you 10.5 hours to give us a reply about our server which is completely offline for unknown reasons, and your excuse is that IT IS OUR FAULT that we bumped the ticket? Come on…. At least try to come up with something a little more intelligent. Now, don’t get me wrong, being in support management and a senior level support engineer for the largest software companies in the world, I understand the concept of bumping tickets, but 5 hours is MORE than ample time to respond to a help ticket, especially high priority ones. If it’s not, you need to hire more staff…..
4.)The support staff has absolutely no idea what they are doing and what the end issue is. They are merely a liaison between the customer and the people that “know what they are doing”. (I put that in quotes, because I can’t be confident that they know anything either). The replies we get from them, when they finally come, offer little to know explanation as well as no remorse, sympathy, or guidance on how the issue can be addressed next time. Most times, it just comes back on and they don’t offer the explanation. In the case of the ticket yesterday, I specifically asked for the reason for the down time, and their response was to close the ticket out. That’s right, without saying a damn word or replying to my question, the closed the ticket. I mean wow….. How do these companies stay in business?
5.) Their SLA is laughably tight enough to ensure that you can’t hold them accountable for anything and is worded in a way that makes NOTHING their fault. They are not obligated to assist or support you in any way for just about anything. Additionally, unlike most SLA’s, there are no ETA’s on support replies and how long support replies should take. I can only assume this is because they are understaffed and can’t guarantee a time, which is asinine.
6.) They don’t know when they are having a DDoS attack or not. If the down time is due to a DDoS attack, you should be able to determine that instantly and handle it effectively (in most cases). There is no science to prevent and mitigate DDoS attacks that is 100% effective and I get that (having a BS in Computer Systems and Network Security), but you CAN make it so that other customers aren’t effected quite easily by null-routing the IP That is under attack, and by not putting so many games servers on the same IP’s. Most hosts worth a grain of salt will actually PRE-EMPTIVELY report DDoS attacks to you to let you know that you will see down time. In fact, NFO usually knows, has an update about it, and a plan in place by the time I can even open a ticket. If I still do open a ticket, I get a reply within 5-10 minutes tops. Additionally, they make sure we are good and follow up after the attack is completed and subsided.
That all being said, at the end of the day we use ViLayer because they are one of the “approved” hosts to host the KOTH mission for ARMA 3. It was the first one we tried and our server has a great deal of popularity because we have a huge team of diligent admins, so we don’t want to switch to another host.
In summation, if you want a server that might work some of the time and you can’t get any support, than ViLayer is the host for you. If you want server that will work and when they don’t work you get the best support in the industry, go with NFO Servers. It won’t be a decision you regret.