Experts Exchange (EE) has become my company’s go-to resource for answers.
I’ve used EE to make decisions, solve problems, and even save clients.
OutagesIO has been a stimulating project and I would like to explain why EE is now part of the resources I use on a daily basis. I was not asked to write this, I just want the site to continue to evolve through feedback.
A bit of context
I’ve owned and run both an ISP and an MSP business and, of course, have my own personal experiences as a consumer.
As MSP, I was constantly tasked with proving that internet reliability issues were the cause of customer downtime and not our managed services.
Because my own home was heavily connected, I realized that as a consumer I had to spend a lot of my free time proving the issues to the various providers I was using. I have found that generally an ISP will never admit to problems unless they are very obvious and affect a lot of others.
No matter what proof I provided, they would reject it and tell me everything looked good to them. I will complain until I can reach higher level support with my evidence.
Even then, they still never admitted anything, but connectivity would improve. In some areas it was a constant cycle. Based on feedback from our members, this continues to be something of an industry practice. It’s a game of getting the customer to prove a problem if the ISP doesn’t see it or isn’t ready to invest in it yet.
The beginning of OutagesIO
As an MSP, I decided to start tinkering with different methods of monitoring Internet services at each client site. It helped but it was always difficult to motivate the Internet service providers to solve the problems,
After moving to Arizona, I decided to create OutagesIO as an automated method of monitoring internet connection and provider performance.
Based on my own experiences, I felt that consumers and businesses could benefit from our approach to this type of service. Like the services, it has evolved and continues to evolve and now does much more than just monitoring the internet.
Why Experts Exchange is important to me
My role at OutagesIO is as a network engineer, hardware and administrator as well as code development management. I build, configure and maintain everything from firewalls, networks, virtualization hosts, virtual and bare metal servers, NAS systems and the list goes on.
We have a small regular team and I have people I call on for tasks that we can outsource to third parties.
I call myself a generalist specialist, a term my wife coined for me. I’ve had hands-on experience with countless technologies and hardware that most people aren’t even allowed to approach.
Do any of you know BlueArc, OnStore, goodies like that? So you know what I’m talking about.
I’ve learned that if I want things done right, I have to start first, show an example so I can hand it to someone who can clearly see what I’m asking for and has the knowledge to complete what I need.
This makes me a very practical person with a bit of knowledge about many things and therefore, not an expert in just one thing. I would have a hard time answering the questions here, I think.
I have been using EE for many years now. I asked for the easiest bash code solutions to grasp, thoughts that might help me make decisions moving forward.
I received countless responses to issues where I should have hired outside help, but was able to do it myself.
How EE members came to our rescue
We recently suffered a very serious issue where our database or clients kept crashing, deleting everything. We spent weeks looking for the cause, but it continued. I considered hiring help, but they would have charged me for the exact same things we were doing at the time, trying to find leads to fix the problem.
We didn’t know what it was, but it was costing us time, money, members and a lot of stress. I finally decided to post the question here and this question might have some sort of pending reward for the longest question ever asked on this site. No idea if that’s actually the case.
Here is that question.
If you bother to read even a part of this huge long thread, then I applaud your quest for knowledge that leads to a solution. The tenacity of those who participated was incredible and I hope that some of the ideas, suggestions that were raised can benefit others as well one day.
It was a tricky situation because it was unclear what was going on and all the initial tests were leading to dead ends. It didn’t take long for a few more experts to step in and with that combined input, we finally had some leads that solved the problem.
Everything is going well at this point and the event has even prompted us to start using a database cluster instead of relying on single instances.
Experts Exchange is a community
I am grateful that EE exists in this difficult situation and I appreciate those who have helped. I find it interesting that many of the same people who have earned a lot of points continually jump into what can and sometimes do become quite complex questions and challenges.
When someone builds a replica just to help you, that’s awesome and it happens here.
I was amazed at how many jumped in trying to help, most sticking to the unceremonious and maybe even anticlimactic end. It was a panicked situation but felt like we had a team of people we could consult outside of our own circle.
I use a lot of forums but I always prefer to post here. I don’t think it would have gone so well if EE wasn’t the community it is.
Forums often have a troll or two lurking around and regardless of whether it’s their intention or not, they add drama like “you don’t know what you’re doing” or “you don’t read what I’m explaining” .
These behaviors increase stress rather than trying to solve the problem. I don’t see that here. We all have different skill levels and we are all learning all the time.
Keep it up EE and members!
What you are doing here is more than you think. This server issue was very difficult and it was nice to have so many comments.
I know we lost at least one business because the IT guy contacted us just when these problems started. He said how hard it was to find our service and that was all they were looking for. Initially excited, eventually lost thanks to the non-stop outages we experienced due to this issue.
It’s a hard loss for us because as the person said, we are hard to find. We simply can’t compete with companies with deep pockets that keep us from being found on search engines.
All of the business we get is hard-earned, so it’s extremely important to have highly reliable services that are available 24/7.
End users often don’t appreciate or understand what’s going on behind an online service and what it takes to keep it going. They appreciate the smooth operation, but acutely notice that something is not working or that the site itself is unavailable.
Most don’t take the time to let a site know something is wrong. They just leave and then post how bad it is in other forums.
We all know that no matter how hard we test, we can miss things. Sometimes it can be weeks before someone bothers to report it and we fix it right away.
Most of you who answer EE DO questions understand the above and more because you live it, you do it every day.
Not only are you doing your job, but you are helping others here at the same time. This not only makes you an expert, but whether you like it or not, a nice person, even if the question writers don’t always tell you that.
As for EE itself, the price is right, the support is still great, and while I haven’t had much time to participate in other parts of the community yet, I’m keeping an eye out for something which I might be able to help back with.
Thanks for being there and for the help.