During the past 10 years I have been listening to the pros and cons of “automated” servers vs “manual” (command line maintenance). We are a manually run house. Why? It comes down to faster customer Response times and server solutions flexibility.
Our team has always pushed against automated systems and I understand why. You cannot grow as rapidly in manual world, but you retain longer. An ecomemrce environment requires flexibility. It is very difficult to run automated servers with changing commerce requirements and demand. Remember, this is coming from the high level of a CEO / Management so I look at things differently than the techs do.
Ok so I have been through the pros and cons of it and it really all comes down to customer service. Automated systems are very cool, time saving, and it does cut down on the need for really skilled techs. In a perfect world that would be great, but we live in a world of vulnerabilities and hackers.
Running servers carry with them so many variables involved in building and maintaining a server. With automation coupled with low tech skill levels, your customer is really in for a ride at some time. I am not saying that they cannot go for the same ride in a manual world.
The differences from all I have discussed, seen, read, and experienced, are that automation keeps you in a tight closed system that when it breaks or it hits the fan, you have to call someone. Of course, when does a problem typically occur? Of course, in the middle of the night! I have heard of long hours and days of response times to fix a server and sometimes the answer is to backup and reinstall. So, you may need to call support at the automated interface company, and you better have a 27/7 3rd level tech at your finger tips. With ecommerce, unlike general hosting, everyone calls when your having issues. Yiiikes.
With a manual system and the right tech team, you can attack the problem head-on, with many options that you may not have in an automated world.
Please comment if you have a different take on this.
I am not 100% on this, but it seems like the techs of today, in the general hosting world, do not have to be as informed. No wait, do no get offended, because there are some real amazing ones still out there, they are far and few between.
Automated vs. Manual, really comes down to the ecommerce customer getting hosed. The customer in the shared environment is taking a gamble on up-time for 20 bucks or so a month. Although, the same thing can happen to a 100 dollar month hosting service. Not enough of the dollars and disaster planning goes back into company.
I think that if one makes it morel about the customer, even though they do not see it in the front-end, you will have a great long-lasting relationship. Ok so…stuff happens. The questions is, how fast is it resolved and are all the things in place fix it rapidly.
I know that we have our times aside from our scheduled maintenance windows, people get really stressed out with hosting issues, and the difference is that we grieve and stress along with them, that makes a difference.
ecommerce clients expect more. The frustrating part is that sometimes they forget that they came aboard because they have had their skin torn off them with their previous host. Our occasional or sometimes even a string of issues pale in comparison. We are not perfect or even close, but we care. So, sometimes customers leave…and if we part in a positive way, like assist them in the move, they will be back. Some won’t cause of pride or some other unimportant issue.
As a team and a company, you should fight and die to retain your clients. Sometime they just gotta go. It is like letting your 18 yr old move out. It is time to experience the world of cares and don’t care. We get it.