Why Web Hosting is a Gamble

Looks like Einstein was WRONG!

Last night I saw Ocean’s Thirteen.

First off, I can’t believe this franchise has gone on as long as it has. It’s been nothing but downhill since Ocean’s Seven.

Apparently, like some kind of strange film industry bloatware, in every new Ocean’s movie they add another big mega super star feature to the cast. People like Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin, and of course, Ben Affleck. I really loved him in the Bourne Againity series. Ask about him at work.

Anyway, and maybe I need to get out a little more, there were several parts in the movie that happened to steer my mind towards this blog’s favorite topic, me web hosting. It’s sad, I know; I wish I worked in a cooler industry like liability insurance. But I’m resigned to accept my lot, per my therapist’s advice.

There was a scene where the “good” guys are discussing how they’re going to take down “Greco”, the casino’s slightly erotic security and fraud-monitoring system. It’s got exabytes of storage, and is housed in some kind of state-of-the-art data center, and the conversation goes something like this:

Billy Ocean: “Can’t we just, like, unplug it or something?”
Celebrity #13: “HA! They’ve got redundant power feeds!”

Audience Josh: HA Ha HA!! Hee Hee! Hoo oooo boy! HA! Heh. Hah. Aahhhhh… oh… man.

Yes, I was actually the only one laughing.

It sure would be delightful if all you needed were some good old-fashioned redundant power feeds to stop even a rag-tag gang of Hollywood’s most lovable scoff-laws from taking out your data center! I’m afraid bitter experience has taught me otherwise.

In the end, our heroes decide to take the most realistic tack.. causing an earthquake via the two $36 million borers that dug the chunnel as well as gettin a cell phone-shaped MAGNETRON in there to, I guess, microwave the servers?

But what struck me in all this is that in real life, data centers CAN handle earthquakes and they usually have pretty tight human security. In fact, data centers are prepared to the hilt for all sorts of real-world catastrophes that never happen in the real-world.

It’s almost make me wonder if after a hard day on the set, there’s nothing Steven Soderbergh likes better than to unwind by designing data centers.

I don’t know how many data centers we’ve seen (and, er, used) that have freaking biometric hand scanners but lose power the first time the temperature hits 80. Why, oh why, is that? It’s sort of a strange, sad, mystery actually.

Mystery Solved!

Mystery Solved!

And all I had to do was think about it for a second! The reason real-world data centers are earthquake and MAGNETRON proof is exactly the same reason Ocean’s Baker’s Dozen decided to generate an earthquake and sneak in a bleeding MAGNETRON in the movie… it’s more exciting!

Movie producers know nobody wants to see Lindsey Lohan disrupt a data center by simply cutting a power line, just like data center marketing departments know nobody would lease a data center with rock-solid power and cooling that didn’t have wicked retina scanners and halon gas fire supression!

I, for one, am glad we live in a world run by such people. Where’s the fun in realism, the entertainment in reliability? If you’re like me, you’ve clearly found the right host!

Two of a Kind

Besides a twizzler, another thing that struck me during the movie is how similar the business models are of casinos and web hosts.

We both offer crazy deals (5TB a month for $7.95 / just pull this lever and get $1,000,000!) that seemingly should put us out of business in an instant.. and yet, thanks again to that Law of Large Numbers we both are perfectly safe from that ever happening.

And yet, nobody gets their Internets all in a bunch, posting “Ha, The Venetian is such a scam… no way can they offer double your money just because the ball lands on BLACK!” all over the coolest industry’s forums.

Somehow, people can easily grok that not everybody wins in a casino; and yet they can’t seem to grasp that not everybody uses 5TB a month. Even though there are a lot more of the former than the latter, this fact seems to elude the general populace. And it kind of sucks for PR!

A crafty ninja.

Dealing with the Sharks

Every once in a while, some crafty people figure out a way to always win. Casinos are always on the lookout for anomalies that point to people like that; when they find them they put them in two categories: those that are breaking the law and those that aren’t.

For the lawbreakers, it’s a simple matter of arresting them and/or breaking their knee caps.

Alas, the card counters and their ilk are not technically doing anything illegal. Alas, casinos don’t technically have to allow you into their establishment. Nor do they technically have to not share your photograph with literally every other gambling establishment in the world.

Then, with the abberations expunged from the system, the house of Gamblors can happily return to its raison d’être: extracting profit from probability while providing entertainment to addicts. Which is exactly our raison d’être too… (oh please, as if we’ve ever represented anything else)!

Which is why we do exactly the same thing. Not a week that goes by that I’m not down by the tracks in Vernon with my sledgehammer, breaking some phools knee caps while busting a cap in his cracker friend. You see (fortunately for us), it’s very hard to be an aberration in our system without breaking the law.

It’s just serendipity, baby, that the biggest bandwidth and disk sucks on this wide world of webs are pretty much all copyrighted material and illegal porn. We also have a much easier time than casinos in spotting the offenders (we use “computers”) … which means we have the luxury of only cracking down on the illegals.

So I guess, in the end, it’s just like they always say…

Brad Pitt does kind of look like me.

The host always wins.