Thanksgiving Travel

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We got our holiday traveling done early this year!

While everybody else is stuck spending the night at the airport, trying to figure out how to best spend their $15 meal voucher, catching H1N1 from the crazy pig farmer snoring next to them, all the DreamHost servers are going to be snug as a bug in a lug in their NEW CAR!

I mean NEW DATA CENTER!

That’s right, we (more or less) completed the mother of all DreamHost data center moves this last week, and if you’ve been with us more than a couple of months, you know the mother of all DreamHost moves must have been a DOOZY.

In the last decade or so, we’ve probably moved data centers an average of once a year… let’s see, there’s been:

CyberG8T => caput (we called them “CyberGate-tuh”)
Commotion => caput
SoftAware => acquired by Digital Island
Digital Island => acquired by Cable and Wireless
WebVision => caput
Exodus => acquired by Cable and Wireless
Cable and Wireless => IPOed and got lame
Switch and Data => IPOed and got lame
Alchemy => still there!
NaviSite => dumped their LA data center on Net2EZ
Net2EZ => we just moved out!

We’ve moved data centers for a multitude of reasons, but we always knew in our heart of hearts “this is the LAST time”.

Recently it’s become hard, harder, and even MORE harder to do these moves. Not just because we’re getting old and flabby, but because servers in general are getting smellier as well as more sharp and covered in razor blades.

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Not really. Really because the number of servers has become more, more-er and even MORE more-er-er! In fact, we’re a little bit of an oddity among colocation customers. We’re a big customer, but we’re very price conscious (because unlike say a law firm, colo for us is a variable cost) … and usually in business when that’s the case you vertically integrate.

We’ve been considering getting our own data center for several years actually! It just never quite made sense. We just weren’t quite big enough to justify the humungo capital outlays, and we just didn’t quite have any expertise in the electricity and cooling side of things. And besides, the market for colo had gotten so soft that the prices we were getting from all the competing providers made it REALLY not worth getting our own.

Of course, those prices are always “introductory”… and once that initial contract is up, they know they’ve got you hooked and it’s time to jack up the rates!

Which is why we went into the Garland Building in the first place… I figured with four competing colo providers all on the same floor, we could always play them off of each other; threatening to move down the hall if one didn’t match a competitor’s offer.

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That worked, more or less. Of course, sometimes they called your bluff, and it was time to put up or shut up, and actually go ahead and move those half-ton racks of servers down the hall!

Never ones to be stared down, we got pretty good over the years at moving data centers. In fact, being unafraid to move data centers may actually have turned out to be one of our biggest competitive advantages.

Of course, it may have been one of our biggest distractions too. Moving data centers has become such a huge deal that the planning for moving even just a third of our footprint now occupies our entire system admin team for the better part of a year.

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Which is why 2009 marked the year in which DreamHost, web master of so many’s domains, finally became masters of their OWN domain… by taking a large equity stake in our primary data center facility, Alchemy Communications!

We consummated the deal back in May, and since then have been planning (and carrying out) the move out of Net2EZ and into what is, finally, our “own” data center. The climax of which occurred this Saturday when we finally physically moved out the remaining now-defunct “spunky” servers out to the data center we have at LAX.

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Just in time for them to catch all their flights home for the holidays. And the flu.

P.S. I’d like to acknowledge all the great work Micah, Patrick, Jeremy K., Mike H., Jordan, Mike P., Terri, Jeremy H., Kyle, RK, Leon, Douglas, Brett, Sandon, Robert, Anthony, and Ken did in making this quite possibly our best and quite possibly our last move ever!