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Friday, April 17, 2015

Server migration, IPv6, and bye bye to the beach

rachelbythebay.com now speaks IPv6. Hopefully you didn't notice a thing. If you're wondering how this came to pass, well, there's definitely a story involved here.

Have you ever been with a service provider for a long time, and then only realized you were still there because you had been there? That is, n+1 only existed because n existed, and so on. Did you then re-assess your situation and see if they still managed to provide what you wanted?

That's pretty much what just happened with me and ServerBeach. I've had a machine with them since 2004, or basically back when I was working in the web hosting business as a support monkey myself. It made sense initially because they were part of the extended family, and I needed a place to park my stuff.

A couple of years later, that first box started having disk problems and so I replaced it. It was a simple matter to go to their web site to find out what my options would be. You could click around and see what sort of price points existed. I picked what I wanted, said "go" and a new machine appeared on my account a few hours later.

That was 2008. Unfortunately, since then, they have lost their way. A couple of months ago, I decided to spec out a new machine. It should have been a simple task: they show me a bunch of options on a web page, and I pick one just like before. This time, the self-provisioning stuff was nowhere to be found.

I also needed information about whether they supported IPv6 connectivity. Their web pages didn't answer that, either. It's not a good sign when something which is going to be pretty important rather soon has been completely neglected by a service provider.

These two failings meant I had to resort to contacting support: the folks doing the job I used to have so long ago. My request was simple enough: do you have IPv6 in any datacenters, and what sort of details apply to a basic server in one of them? I figured someone would give me a simple answer. They did not, and instead forwarded it to my account manager. Oh boy.

Did he mail me the details? Well, no, not at first. He called. It went to voicemail. I did not want to get into a synchronous hard sell situation, because, remember, I used to work for one of these places. I just wanted the straight facts: what do you have, where do you have it, and for how much?

I finally replied by mail and asked for the details in a reply. To his credit, that reply included the info, but that's the end of the good news.

The self-provisioning stuff is gone. No more popping your own servers.

They don't do IPv6. ANYWHERE. Yes, in 2015. Even Comcast gets this much right! ServerBeach, 2015, IPv6, no. Negative. Zero.

It's not just the lack of IPv6 connectivity. Their DNS tool doesn't let you set AAAA records, so even if you stand up a machine somewhere else, you still can't point people at it. Instead, you have to swing your whole zone around to some other place (which you'd do eventually anyway, but this forces you to do it first) in order to start migrating.

As for the actual base-level hardware? He quoted something higher than what I could find myself in the shiny sales pages on the web site. I half-expected something like this, but this was just barbaric.

I went looking for alternatives, and I found one. They do IPv6 everywhere as far as I can tell, and they let you provision your own stuff and do "what if" twiddling of hardware choices to see how much it will cost. There's no wheeling and dealing. I went for it.

After that, the migration commenced in fits and starts: a few hours here, a few hours there. I don't have a whole lot of time to spend on this, but managed to glue it together this week, and the switch on rachelbythebay.com itself was thrown yesterday.

DNS being what it is, I expect a bunch of wayward people to find their way to the old machine for several more days. They'll encounter a distinct lack of updates, and then eventually a bunch of RSTs when it finally goes dark. Meanwhile, life goes on out here on the new machine.

There are more than a few old projects which have been retired as part of this. Some of them, like the scanner, will come over eventually, but others like fred are no more. Nobody should really notice that.

IPv6 is no longer magic. Suck it up and turn it on.