in Internet Services

On Webhosting: there’s The Planet and then there are the copycats… literally

A few years ago, when I was still in charge of the Toronto Community Co-Location Project (a project that I’m pretty sure is defunct by now), I was approached by a fellow named Da Shi, who was just starting a company called 3z Canada. He provided some competitive rates for co-location, but we ultimately sublet space from Chris Kirby.

My impression of 3z, both then and now, is that it’s a one-man company, run by Shi himself. You’ll notice that nowhere on the site will you find Shi’s name mentioned, or the names of any other individuals involved in the company – no biographies of executives, or anything like that. On the other hand, the site is impeccably constructed, with a lot of marketing statements, e.g.

At 3z Canada, we distinguished ourselves by the exceptional quality of our customer service and technical support and we thrive to maintain this quality service reputation. All our team members unite their skills to better satisfy your needs and allow us to stand out from the crowd.

and

At 3z Canada our business solutions are customized to satisfy each client. In order for us to evaluate your business needs we listen first to understand what is important to your business. 3z Canada specializes in applying technology to maximize your resources.

Now I don’t want to be too hard on 3z, or Shi himself – I don’t know him, but he seems like a regular entrepreneur who’s trying to make some money on co-location services. If the polish of the site is intended to make his company seem bigger than it is, so be it. However, if you click on the Resellers page, you’ll start reading some text that seems to be discordant with how big 3z appears to be. Specifically, you’ll see the following statements:

We stand as the leader in world-class IT web and server hosting capabilities.

* Number 1 privately held, dedicated server hosting provider in the world (second only to publicly-held IBM)
* Fourth-largest hosting provider of Web sites (2.8 million)
* Serving more than 22,000 customers worldwide
* Six wholly owned and managed state-of-the-art data centers supporting more than 40,000 servers
* Fully redundant Network Operations Center capabilities in two cities (Dallas & Houston) with 24x7x365 monitoring
* One of the industry’s fastest, most robust networks (100 gigabits/sec)

I thought this text sounded familiar, so I googled the phrase "Number 1 privately held, dedicated server hosting provider in the world". The first hit is from The Planet‘s website, where it says:

The Planet is the number one privately held, dedicated server hosting provider in the world. Serving more than 22,000 businesses worldwide, The Planet provides reliable, scalable and affordable web hosting services that enable small- and medium-size companies to successfully grow their businesses.

I don’t want to pick on just Shi for cribbing text from The Planet. It’s not very ethical, sure, but more material is the quantity of other hits on Google. Maybe these other companies are The Planet resellers, but they don’t make it clear that they don’t own their own infrastructure.

I guess it’s just the nature of the co-location and managed server business; trying to make your firm appear huge is just part of the modus operandi. Given these sorts of questionable ethics, though, if I were to be in the market for a hosting provider, I think I would choose one of the big names – maybe The Planet itself – rather than one of the smaller players.