Experts Exchange (EE) has become my companies go-to resource to get answers.
I've used EE to make decisions, solve problems and even save customers.
Just another server at OutagesIO.com by OutagesIO.com
My name is Mike and as you can see from my profile, I'm the owner of OutagesIO.com.
OutagesIO has been a challenging project and I'd like to share why EE has become part of the resources I use in my day to day business. I was not asked to write this, I just want the site to keep evolving through feedback.
A little background
I have owned and run both an ISP and an MSP business and of course, have my own personal experiences as a consumer.
As an MSP, I was constantly tasked with having to prove Internet reliability issues being the cause for down time at customer locations and not due to 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 problems to the various providers I used. I found that typically, an ISP will never admit to problems unless they are very obvious and affecting a lot of others.
No matter what I provided as evidence, they would dismiss it telling me everything looked fine to them. I would complain until I was able to reach a higher level support with my proof.
Even then, they still never admitted anything but connectivity would get better. In some areas, this was a constant cycle. Based on our member feedback, this continues to be some sort of industry practice. It's a game of making the customer prove a problem if the ISP can't see it or isn't ready to invest in that area yet.
The start of OutagesIO
As an MSP, I decided to start cobbling together different methods of monitoring the Internet services at each customer location. It helped but it was always difficult to motivate Internet providers to fix problems,
After moving to Arizona, I decided to build OutagesIO as an automated method of performance monitoring of Internet connections and the providers.
Based on my own experiences, I felt that consumers and businesses could benefit from our take on this kind of service. As services do, it evolved and continues to and now does much more than simply Internet monitoring.
Why Experts Exchange is important to me
My position with OutagesIO is network engineer, hardware and admin guy along with managing code development. 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 third party out.
I call myself a general 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 get close to.
Do some of you know BlueArc, OnStore, goodies like that? Then you know what I'm talking about.
I've learned that if I want things done right, I need to start it first, show an example of it so I can hand it off to someone that can clearly see what I'm asking and has the knowledge to complete what I need.
That makes me a very hands on person with a little knowledge about a lot of things and therefore, no expert at any one thing. I'd have a hard time answering questions here I think.
I've been using EE for many years now. I've asked for the simplest bash code solutions to input, thoughts that could help me make decisions moving forward.
I've been given countless answers to problems where I would have had to hire outside help but was able to get it done on my own.
How EE members came to our rescue
We recently suffered a very serious problem where our database or the clients would keep locking up, taking everything down. We spent weeks looking for the cause but it kept happening. I considered hiring help but they would have billed me for the exact same things we were doing at the time, trying to find leads to ultimately solve 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 that question might have some sort of award pending for the longest question ever on this site. No idea if it actually is.
If you bother to read even part of this huge long thread, then I applaud your quest for knowledge which does lead to a solution. The tenacity of those who took part was amazing and I hope some of the ideas, suggestions that came up can benefit others also some day.
It was a tricky situation because it wasn't clear what was happening and all initial testing was leading to dead ends. It didn't take long for a few more experts to jump in and with that combined input, we finally had some leads that lead to solving the problem.
Everything is humming along nicely at this point and the event even pushed us to start using a database cluster instead of relying on single instances.
Experts Exchange is a community
I'm thankful that EE exists in this difficult situation and I appreciate those that helped. I find it interesting that many of the same people who have earned a lot of points are continuously jumping into what can and sometimes do become quite complex questions and challenges.
When someone builds a replica just to help you, that's impressive and it happens here.
I was amazed at how many jumped right in trying to help, most sticking right to the unceremonious and perhaps even anticlimactic end. It was a panic situation but I 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 posting here. I don't think this would have gone as well if EE wasn't the community it is.
Forums often have one or two trolls lurking and no matter if it is their intent or not, they add drama like 'you don't know what you're doing' or 'you're not reading what I'm explaining'.
Those behaviors ramp up the stress rather than trying to fix the problem. I don't see that here. We all have different levels of skills and we're all learning, all the time.
Keep it up EE and members!
What you do here is more than you might be aware of. This server problem was a very difficult one and it was nice to have so much input.
I know we lost at least one enterprise because the IT person contacted us just as these problems started. He stated how hard it had been to find our service and it was everything they were looking for. Initially excited, eventually lost thanks to non stop outages we suffered thanks to this issue.
This is a difficult loss for us because as the person said, we are hard to find. We simply cannot compete against deep pocket companies that keep us from being found on search engines.
Any business we get is hard earned making it incredibly important to have highly reliable services that are up 24/7.
End users don't often appreciate or understand what goes on in the background of an online service and what it takes to keep things up. They enjoy when it's running smoothly but acutely notice when something doesn't work or the site itself has down time.
Most don't take time to let a site know something is broken. They just leave then post about how bad it is in other forums.
We all know that no matter how much we test, we can miss things. Sometimes it can be weeks before someone bothers to report it and we fix it immediately.
Most of you answering questions on EE DO understand the above and more because you are living it, you're doing it every day.
You are not only doing your work but you are helping others here at the same time. That makes you not only an expert but like it or not, a kind person, even if question authors don't always tell you that.
As for EE itself, the price is just right, the support is always great and while I've not had much time to participate in other parts of the community yet, I'm keeping my eye out for something I might be able to help back with.