SUMMARIZATION: Colo comparisons... (was OT: I hate doing this)

Rich Sena ras at
Mon Nov 8 12:16:45 UTC 1999

[Comment: I had stated that I would not post a summary back to NANOG re:
this - however - the requests to do so were numerous so I re-neg'd please
beat me privately if you disagree - I tried my best to keep respondants
annonymously quoted]

In the course of networking events you become confronted with the e-e-evil
scourge of marketting and it's near death-grip hold on the ears of upper
management (sorry for the unavoidable visuals here) - that sets the scene
for my predicament and the need to validate my statements to my superiors
by my peers and mentors here...

My list was short - it was prompted by a short list presented by our
marketting folk re: possible alternatives to our current provider.

They are (along with our current provider)...


There were some honorable mentions from the respondants:

	(one mention)

	(quite a few mentions)
	Frontier Globalcenter   *very highly recommended by all mentions*

The ratings so far read as follows: (note this is subject to my
interpretations of the review)

scale: 1-10 10 being the unblemished lamb 5 being the starting point

	AboveNET -  9
	Level3	 -  5
	Exodus	 -  5
	Servint  -  4
	GTE	 -  4
	AGIS	 -  2
	VERIO	 -  2
	CIGNAL	 -  0 (no data)

The Breakdowns:



Didn't receive any *real* negative criticisms - although there was some
historic comments of lack of adequate back-up power at one time (although 
during the DC blackout last year they remained operational on their own
juice while most otheres faultered) , a concern about their future since
the MFN merger,  and also some comments re: Dave Rand's 'best-exit'
decisions - however all and all comments were near unanimously positive...

Have to confess I am a current subscriber of their services and extremely
impressed by their whole deal... they really are the provider that I'm
trying to defend against Mickey and his marketeers here in the corral.

<respondants comments re: abovenet>

'excellent, they can put filters in, normal noc, really no major outages.
Fine co-los. A'

'AboveNet just got absorbed by Metro*mumble*Fiber*mumble* :) Dunno how
their service is since the absorption'

'We currently have a Colo at AboveNet's San Jose facility and are very
happy with their responsiveness and preofessional network and facility

'Their new SJ facility has the most redundancy I've seen. Great network
compared to most colo providers. Focused on connectivity only-- no
value-added services.'

'AboveNET has always been good to me... They are very responsive to
problems and very helpful when dealing with remote administration of
hosts. Their "Remote Hands" has helped me quite a few times...  They have
some great Players in their technical staff: Dave Rand, Avi Freedman,
Brian Moore... ...they are nt immune from growing pains... But they did
respond, as always, very rapidly,... In general I give them an uptime,
reponse to problems, honest - timely communications of problems and their
caused/resolutions ... an A+. Or a 10 out of a possible 10 scale.'

'ABOVENET 8... 1 = I wouldn't have them host my dog's website 10 = I'd
trust them to host my pacemaker'

'Avi works there. Dave Rand works there. =) Very peering oriented, but not
even "fat pipes to nowhere" like Level3/Qwest, since they didn't (until
Metromedia buyout) have a telco relationship. Way too much of our traffic
saw the MAEs, but that's the way it is w/networks who don't pay for
transit and aren't big enough for peering... For all the praise Abovenet
gets, it's basically just a well run interconnected bunch of NAPs... It's 
very good NAP connectivity, no doubt, but traditional tier 1 doesn't work 
very well anymore unless you're large enough to get good private peering
too. Rating: A'

'Above is good...'

'Great. Only based on my evaluation of their network, peering
relationships, and responsiveness of their sales staff. My first choice
for colo service.'

'Excellent luck with these people from a network perspective. Never had
power problems, but that used to be their big problem at one time
according to friends of mine. My experience with them (simple 1 box colo)
has been very good. I keep a proxy server on a box there to this day
specifically because routes to them always rock, wheras if I go direct
from my place to "xyz" it may suck.'

'In an alternate life, I have hardware at the Abovenet facility in
Tyson's, VA. They've been pretty accomadating for us, but I'd recommend
you have seasoned staff on your end to deal with them. My impression is
that they have talented staff, but they're either not interested or too
busy to be very in-depth with your problems unless you can give them a
softball, it takes time to get results. I suppose that's typical of the
environment. Their backbone and connectivity seem quite good. I have no
complaints that way. Rates are OK, too.'

'I've been using AboveNet for all of my co-location in various parts of
the US.  I love their support staff, and the connectivity and peering has
been really good to me.  They've had their share of problems, but have
done pro- active things to assure they don't happen again, or at least as

</respondants comments re: abovenet> 



Most negative feedback hinges on poor peering and support (pre and post
sales) and lack of VA services.

<respondants comments re: level3>

'ok co-lo, about B to C for the backbone performance, same for the tech
support, can do filtering, no CAR, around B'

'No cages-- just private rooms or cabinets. My personal favorite last I
researched colos.'

'I like this company a lot, but am not yet a customer.  Their colo space
is just racks. Their network is fast but I've been told that their peering
arrangements are still being worked out.'

'We got as far as receiving a bid from them.  They claimed:
a) they had peering or transit in Seattle (other than links)
b) the routing loops we were seeing on their network (traceroutes/packets
that wouldn't go to the right POP) was an "Internet BGP issue"
c) they had a 24x7 manned Seattle NOC
a) they didn't
b) it was fucked up IGP
c) it's totally unmanned; after we said no, a friend of mine's company got
investment from them and noticed that their NOC was totally unmanned and,
while externally secure, allowed customers access to most other customers'

'For IP dunno. Everything goes through Chicago to get to the rest
of the internet (ie: horrible peering). Horrible experinces with their
internal processies.'

'Great so far.  Just moved my servers there. Fabulous facilities.
Large. Lots of fiber, private rooms forstaging no extra charge. Sales
staff is clueless in Detroit but NOC in Denver very responsive. Security
is b+.'

'I have a personal box that I use the most off of level 3, a T1 away from
their SF facility.  Tolerable.  usually up.  if I could afford it I'd put
this personal box at abovenet tho.'


'Not using them yet, but hinking real hard.  NICE colo space,
I know people located at Level3 in Detroit and they are happy with most
service.  Apparently you need to manage them a bit hard to get initial
service installed, ongoing is mostly OK.'

</respondants comments re: level3>



I mix of polarized responces...  most of the negative items center around
quality of support and network performance (unfortunately so do most of
the positive ones) - there is mention of the inability to terminate
circuits from other providers within their space (from first-hand
experience I can validate this) plus that they are usually located
off-site to most NAP's IX's eliminating the abilty of direct cross-connect
and limiting interconnects to their customer base.

<respondants comments re: exodus>

'blah.. cannot and will not do any kind of filtering, no ACLs, no
CAR... good looking co-lo, kind of expensive, designed more for like web
applications, real audio/video. D to F'

'Exodus is very cool, but you may find it's towards the top of the cost
spectrum. I am biased towards Exo, though. :)'

'Expensive. Lots of VA services. Can't bring in connectivity from other
providers to supplement Exodus' (at least, officially you can't). Backbone
has been improving recently. Customer support has gotten a lot better too.
Lots of growing pains. (Only one I have personal colo experience with.)'

'With Exodus I have four cages and a couple fast ethernet feeds. Exodus
provides an excellent colo space and many services which make it a plus -
expecially for a small site (up to four cages). We are running 50-70Mbps
through Exodus and because of routing and limited local peering I'm not
sure I want to go much over 100Mbps. Sometimes hard to get out of the
cookie cutter with Exodus.'

'Exodus has been very reliable for us.  We have a rack in their Santa
Clara IDC and a T1 to our office. Their project managers sometimes don't
communicate fully with sales/billing, and we often get overcharged or
similar.  Their data centers are clean and their NOC staff is willing to
be flexible for almost any request.  For example, they hauled people out
of bed to allocate me an additional range of 16 IPs just for our DMZ on a
Sunday night around 11:30pm, w/o warning, at my request (my PM was
supposed to warn them, but didn't). They also have no workbench area and
have no plans (I've repeatedly asked) to allocate any space for such.'

'They're good for space, but their network is still being revamped, esp.
on the east coast.  However they're no longer permitting other networks
into their colo space as of a month or so ago.  A lot of people wouldn't
be at exodus if they couldn't bring in a better ISP.'

'EXODUS        9
1 = I wouldn't have them host my dog's website.
10 = I'd trust them to host my pacemaker.'

'Badass data centers (sttl1 was cool, sttl2 has biometrics for NOC staff,
the whole works).  Nordstrom is doing all hosting w/EXDS sttl2. 
Connectivity is generally good, both in terms of latency and capacity.
There are intermittent *WEIRD* backbone issues; for a minute or two
occasionally (2-3x a week that I notice) their backbone will stop routing
traffic. They also seem to be a couple weeks behind capacity requirements
- sttl1 peering is pretty well exhaused but they're upgrading peers to OC3
and core to 2xOC12 (from DS3 & OC3). On the upside, the nature & size of
their business (pushing 85% of their exchanged traffic) gives them good
peering influence; they've got UUnet and Sprint going to OC3 from their
present DS3s (in Seattle). Good people. rating: B- B+ if you're

'I dunno about the rest, except for Exodus, which is without a doubt,
absolutely, positively, the single worst company in the known world, let
alone the worst network/colo provider. I would sooner kill my mother than
recommend that anyone ever use their services. (and i'm speaking as a
customer that is unfortunately locked down into two very large cages in an
Exodus facility that we're working on moving out of even though it's
probably going to cost us upwards of six figures).'

'First ones to do the data centers but didn't think of their network as
much. Very high latency. One of their board people called their customers
roaches and their data centers a roach motel. "They come in but they never

'Bad.  Hoppy network. Problems getting to server from AOL.'

'Exodus has improved a bit, we get a nice feed most of the time, and if
you're big enough to get a port on a router instead of a Catalyst, it's
pretty nice.'

'Exodus is ok unless you let their engineers get involved.  Then they are
a nightmare.  I have had them underprovision hardware, get ACLs backward,
lose T1 circuits for several days in their internal wiring, etc.'

'We use them at work.  I wish I could suggest them.  I'd suggest having
your wisdom teeth drilled on by your neighbor bubba wtih the
black-n-decker before going to these guys.  However, this is my
opinion, and I don't speak for the company I work for, and you never
heard it from me.   (sigh)'

'...we colo'd with Exodus in New Jersey and they sucked more than I can
say.  Exodus brings a bad taste to my mouth.  They don't return calls,
they promise the world and deliver shit.  Avoid them at all costs.'

</respondants comments re: exodus>



SERVINT was thrown in her at the request of my marketting dept - who
bumped into someone from their equally superior department who suggested
us colo'ng there - as most of the responses seem to indicate there isn't
much support for colo at SERVINT or at least much public knowledge of any.

Really only 1 negative comment - but as you can see they have a high
quality Tee!

<respondants comments re: servint>

'they start to suck lately, NOC is ok, they can do filtering already doing
CAR for ICMP across their backbone. I don't know about their co-lo never
been there. can't relaly tell..'

'Pretty small from what I understand.'

'Don't know about the others, but I've got tee-shirts from AGIS and
SERVINT. AGIS one has a nicer logo/design, but the SERVINT one has
higher-quality fabric and construction. This is all the first-hand stuff I
know. (:'

'Never heard of them'

</respondants comments re: servint>


GTE: 4

Most comments were negative or showed an indiffernece to an established
provider - this is more akin to rating UUNET's performance - good bad or
indiffernt - it never lived up to expectations.

<respondants comments re: gte>

' co-lo that i saw in downtown chicago, co-lo seems pretty
sucking, but cabinet and transit price is very reasonable... can do
filtering, very fast responsive noc. B'

'GTE           5
1 = I wouldn't have them host my dog's website.
10 = I'd trust them to host my pacemaker.'

'Had good experience with BBN in Boston, no experience in 2+ years

'GTE is ok'

'GTE - (was BBN), BBNPlanet were internet Pioneers. Not in all locations
but good in my experience'

'I'd stay away from GTE.  Used to be Genuity, they've yet to integrate the
wacky ATM backbone fully with the BBN backbone.  Still on the Genuity AS,
so there's much sucky peering.  If we didn't have 40-some T's terminating
at the colo we'd be long gone...'

'GTE was pure web hosting, last I heard.'

'GTE - run'

</respondants comments re: gte>



This was pip - at least in networking circles it seems that you learn from
history - AGIS has had a historic black eye in regards to a bit of
net-abuse originating from it's borders - and it looks like most of the
respondants are sticking to that lesson. Thre are a few direct quotes from
some former AGIS subscribers (leased line) and a descritpion of a
sub-standard (to say the least colo site - although it may not be

<respondants comments re: agis>

'I don't know much about AGIS as Co-lo provider, but I did live through
AGIS as a T-1 customer to their backbone during their worst time in
history... The time when they had their Spam/Hacker Attack Problem that
ended up with and FBI (or some sort of Federal?) investigation. Not a nice
time to have been on AGIS. They were down more than up during that stuff.
We finally had to drop them and got MCI T-1 and later UUNET also.'

'Having been a customer of their ISP services I don't have anything good
to say about them.'

'AGIS          Unknnown -- ISP expreiences haven't been great'

' "AGIS does colo?" '

'Don't know about the others, but I've got tee-shirts from AGIS and
SERVINT. AGIS one has a nicer logo/design, but the SERVINT one has
higher-quality fabric and construction. This is all the first-hand stuff I
know. (:'

'AGIS sucks'

'Horrible, bgp resets middle of the day without knowing why, don't
push much traffic to them compared to our other providers...'

'Used to be below acceptable..  Have seen nothing to change this
opinion. The one Coolocation site I have inspected was small and in a
multi-tenant strip close to major traffic routes.  A single 250 MWatt
generator for backup. No DC power.'

'We and most other ISPs in Michigan used to use Agis. Most of us have
left.  I have clients who colo there and I have had to deal with them recently.
Not impressed.'

</respondants comments re: agis>



Vericutous borg... asimilator of many ISP's bears a stigma so it seems
also. Lots of negative feedback on their support talent and the
instability of their *acquired* network expecially in re: to the BEST

<respondants comments re: verio>

'blah.. blah blah... depends where you are, and what ISP/region are
we talking about, Verio seems to fsck everything up, I'd give them C for
backbone performance, F for tech support, about B for security response if
you know the right people. Can put CAR and Filters in with no questions,
if you're looking to co-locate irc-like material ;-) ircd for instance.
around C to D (F - if you need fast tech support)'

'Verio *sucks*. They're experiencing serious cranial rectumitus when it
comes to their network backbone.'

'Verio... First of all they have a nice backbone.. However I am not sure
if you are aware of the fact that they built there customer base by buying
smaler ISP's... ...Now this could be a good thing or a bad thing .. just
relize that when you buy from verio you may be hooked up to a local office
that has just been bought out and is in the middle of a staff turnover'

'We currently have another "colo" at Best (now absorbed by Verio,) in
San Francisco and are NOT pleased with it.  Indeed compared to other
colo's I have worked with in the past, I would not call that data
center a colo.  We have had to chase after them about seriously
out of spec A/C, have had prolonged power failures (they may be installing
site UPS at this time, it wasn't there in the past,) significant
network outages, and a lack of responsiveness when we want to report
problems. We also have one of our offices connected to the net through
Verio as an ISP (legacy of the previous tenant,) and again have had
regular and sometimes prolonged network outages.  I will credit Best/Verio
with making some network configuration changes to correct a congestion
problem when one of our engineers started complaining vigorously about the
poor performance of one of our circuits.  They shouldn't have needed us to
detect the problem though...'

'In SJ, lots of problems integrating Best. Poor customer service,
relatively unstable network, poor facilities.'

'With Verio I have four enclosed racks and two fast ethernet
feeds. The Verio backbone isn't as oversubscribed as Exodus and in my
opinion has a better architecture. With Verio I get links directly to
their backbons routers and they will do access lists for me. With Exodus
my links are into Catalyst switches using RSMs and they will not do access
lists. In the Verio space I use they do not have any 24/7 staff onsite -
so they can't reboot a machine for me in the middle of the night.'

'VERIO         4
1 = I wouldn't have them host my dog's website.
10 = I'd trust them to host my pacemaker.'

'No experience as a customer, their latency always seems higher than it
should be in traceroutes.'

'Bad.  Based on my knowledge of only a small part of their operations here
in Michigan. No redundancy in their network.'

'I have first hand experince with VERIO, and they more than blow.'

'VERIO - ok'

'OK as a backup provider.  Pretty good connectivity to other Verio
customers.  Not impressed for backbone connectivity. They have not had a
chance to integrate their purchases.'

</respondants comments re: verio>



CIGNAL gets this rating - due to lack of data - from what I've seen they
are extrememly new...

<respondants comments re: cignal>


</respondants comments re: cignal>

I am nothing if not net-Q! - ras at

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