SimpleCDN – Being Killed By CDN Competitors (VPS.NET)?

 

Hosting has always been a little bit of a dog eat dog industry, but with CDNs it gets a little more complicated because you are paying for a specifc quantity of a specific resource… bandwidth.

But there are all kinds of ways to achieve your quota including various forms of arbitrage.

I read today via the MaxCDN blog that SimpleCDN service is in deep trouble – some of their suppliers have apparently pulled the rug from under their feet leaving them with an inability to supply bandwidth to their clients because they no longer have servers to do it.

Note:  I have a sponsorship deal of this blog with MaxCDN and am one of their affiliates, but I really only worry about the affiliate program for large clients with direct referrals – if you have a large site that has high bandwidth demand or needs acceleration, drop me an email via my contact form and I can help you evaluate whether they would be a good partner.
If you check the blog post I think they have a good deal for former SimpleCDN customers or those that just need some continuity until they can recover – I hope SimpleCDN make a little money from people using the coupon code “simplecdn”

The CDN Dog Fight

SimpleCDN have apparently been using infrastructure provided by SoftLayer and Hosting Services, Inc.

That to me sounds like their 10TB and 100TB offerings.

Who in their right mind would offer 100TB of bandwidth with a single dedicated server and not expect it to be used in some way to serve media in large quantity?
They also have unmetered… of course who is going to buy unmetered unless they intend to really use the bandwidth.

Part of the 100TB terms of service state

A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is prohibited from running on our network. Special requests to run CDN services may be approved on a case by case basis. Failure to comply with this policy will result in the disabling of all hosting services.

I don’t know whether they had special permission, or how long that term has been in force.

If someone was going to rely on a hosting partner for a huge amount of bandwidth it seems to me they would check the terms of service, and make any special arrangements.

But Hosting Services Inc also run VPS.net and their own CDN services. Until recently they were Akamai partners until Akamai decided to pull the rug from under their feet, and in a quick shuffle they switched to using Level3.

  • This sounds to me like SimpleCDN had a deal
  • Hosting Services Inc had had enough of SimpleCDN undercutting them on CDN services using their own hosting plans and decided to terminate them at very short notice, in much the same way they themselves were terminated by Akamai. The value proposition SimpleCDN vs Akamai compared to SimpleCDN vs Level3 is significantly different, such that SimpleCDN are without doubt more of a direct competitor of VPS.net than they were previously.
  • That sucks, hense MaxCDN’s offer and me being annoyed and writing something when I should be working

I haven’t had a chance to contact Hosting Services Inc or Softlayer for comment, I am meant to be working on other stuff so just need to get the news out in the hope that it helps a few friends recover from downtime before Christmas.

For whatever reason you don’t kill people’s hosting just before Christmas in this way

Some Twitter Chatter

@ Heard about your predicament. I'm working at MaxCDN and we may be able to help. Call me at 818-284-9829. Cheers, Samir Said (CSO)
@sbbsam
Samir Said
Latest updates on SoftLayer illegal actions: http://admin.simplecdn.com/
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
Our engineering team can help you get up and running on CloudFront right away, and we've so far heard great things about MaxCDN.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ Us too, but in our case they illegally terminated our services. Hope that didn't happen to you too.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ We apologize, and are working on alternative service - and we can help you move to another provider in anyway possible...
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ We'll post any additional updates on our feed, and via this site http://admin.simplecdn.com/ regarding SoftLayer illegal actions.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ Right now we don't know for sure - SoftLayer's actions are unprecedented and are doing all we can as fast as we can.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ We are doing everything we can - at this point UK2 & SoftLayer are sticking to their goal of illegally forcing SimpleCDN down.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ SoftLayer and UK2 / Hosting Services terminated our infrastructure (hundreds of servers) with no notice and no reason.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ This was an effort by both UK2 and SoftLayer to remove SimpleCDN from the market.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ We feel WikiLeaks pain - we pay these guys THOUSANDS, but still they terminate us for no reason with no notice. SoftLayer is bad bad
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ They did cut SimpleCDN off without a valid reason and no notice. Sure we'll go to court, but that doesn't really help our custms now
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
SoftLayer is not responding to any of our customers or complaints at this point - please keep contacting them, but they may hang up on you.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ Obviously we have a lot to share about this - but you know how it is; waiting for the lawyer okay first, etc.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ Our goal is to minimize impact to customers, even if we have to move them to other providers. Thanks MaxCDN for helping out!!!
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ Many customers lost everything, as our pricing and feature set is / was second to none.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ As soon as we can release more details we will- but the actions were definitely directed specifically at SimpleCDN - yes we pay bill
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
@ A lot of businesses rely on SimpleCDN, at least give customers time to find a new provider before cutting them off so soon.
@Y3com
Y3.com
@ Believe me, we understand. We are happy that MaxCDN is offering our customers a discount - but yes our offering is / was the lowest.
@SimpleCDN
SimpleCDN
There was a problem connecting to Twitter.
@ do you guys have backup of the files? Freakin out here... have 750 customers relying on SimpleCDN + no backup! who do I contact?

VPS.NET Twitter Statement

This is interesting – when questioned, the VPS.NET MD knows nothing about it

interesting goings on the CDN market. first @ pull the rug on @, now uk2 pull the rug on @: http://bit.ly/hVtxFH
@sidepodcast
Sidepodcast F1
with uk2 & @ effectively being the same company, i wonder if the two incidents are related? thankfully we moved content away long ago.
@sidepodcast
Sidepodcast F1
@ As the M.D. of VPS.NET - I knew nothing of this...so I can assure you it's not related to VPS.NET at all. ^NN
@vpsnet
VPS.NET

I have also checked cache dates on the 100TB terms of service and have a screenshot from 8th December which contained that clause.

100TB ToS

I have had interactions with Ditlev from VPS.net and he always seemed like an honest guy who works hard to satisfy his customers.
However… the prime benefactor of SimpleCDN.com being killed off as a competitor to a UK2 service would be the CDN services within the UK2 group… which are run by VPS.net

 

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more. Follow

Comments

  1. says

    Andy, once we get the okay from our lawyers we will release much more information.

    I can confirm that UK2 changed the ToS on all of their services AFTER they made a demand for our immediate termination.

    I can confirm that our services were running for many months, and that we have / had hundreds of services (virtual and dedicated) across their many properties, including services direct with SoftLayer as well.

    I would agree that Akamai is a “top” service – honestly Level3 and Highwinds are complete garbage, which are the two services VPS.NET resells. SimpleCDN stacks up, if not beats (well at least we used to) those guys, at a MUCH more attractive price / performance ratio.

    When the communication is made public, you honestly will not believe the way UK2 / SoftLayer has acted here. Anyone using their services for any reason should switch… and switch NOW.

    Thanks,

    Frank

    • says

      Frank’s (from SimpleCDN) preceded yours and he has stated on Twitter clearly that he paid his bills and used them for a long time.

      The whole post was also highlighting the MaxCDN offer to help

      IstreamLive? They seem to be a Highwinds reseller who are abusing/exploiting the SimpleCDN trademark – my personal opinion as a SEO guy, no idea of the legal.
      If they can’t play fair on something like that, I wouldn’t trust them.

  2. says

    I can assure you that we “paid our bill”.

    We appreciate the help, but do not recommend http://www.istreamlive.net since they resell Highwinds CDN service, which you can read my thoughts on above (garbage). That being said we apprecaite the help MaxCDN is giving, and our customers are seeing good service on MaxCDN and CloudFront.

    Our entire support team is available to help customers find new services and transition.

  3. says

    I do not know, it just seems strange as to why a large account, clearly SimpleCDN was a large customer of these services, would just drop the account. Not trying to throw salt in a wound Frank, just seems odd to me…

    • says

      Well if it was underhanded I wish you all the luck and those companies should pay you for not only your losses, but the torment of same. You were right about istreamlive.net they are a reseller of Highwinds, they offered me a test account. Seems like they have their own small CDN also.

      But, again best of luck to you Frank and I hope it all works out in the end for you and yours.

  4. says

    Ditlev and Jeff Hunsaker at UK2 know all about it – the emails we are sitting on are both from them directly. This didn’t come from some low level tech guy – Ditlev and Jeff are all over this.

    Of course we haven’t stopped trying to contact them and SoftLayer for clarification on exactly why our service was terminated – but big surprise, no response.

    Did they at least give us 120 days notice? Nope. 90 days? Nope. 60 days? Nope. 30 days? Nope.

    As far as the ToS, don’t worry, we have emails proving they changed it specifically to apply to us. Google cache has the new copy – but we have the old.

    We run specialty managed web hosting services as well for many of our customers – and as you can imagine, those are offline too.

    As they know, SimpleCDN (and our customers) continued to be irrevocably harmed by the illegal actions of UK2 and SoftLayer.

    I again want to apologize to our customers. I’ve received many calls and spoken to many customers who have no place else to turn. For many, our pricing enabled them to do live broadcasting or on-demand video streaming like the “big boys”. I am deeply sorry that UK2 and SoftLayer’s actions have put you into such a terrible situation.

    Their silence on this issue should be warning enough – if you are hosting with any UK2 group or SoftLayer company, beware. They seem to think they have the right to shutdown your service for any reason at anytime, regardless of what any ToS, contract or law says.

    • says

      Including the cache copy wasn’t meant to suggest they haven’t changed this very recently, but it does at least frame the timescale.

      The tweet I highlighted is signed ^NN which suggests it was written by Nick Nelson – maybe he wasn’t aware but interesting plausable deniability/spin.

  5. says

    I understand – and again I appreciate you bring attention to this matter. I understand where many people are coming from, not believing that UK2 / SoftLayer would actually do something like this. Sadly they did, and now SimpleCDN, our team, and thousands of customers have been put into a terrible situation.

  6. Terry Myers says

    I’m the Chief Evangelist for VPS.NET; if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at terry@vps.net. I can assure you though that the VPS.NET management did not have any knowledge of the SimpleCDN termination. Each UK2Group brand is run like it’s own company, with the Managing Directors making any necessary decisions. While we work together in some circumstances to strengthen our product offerings, this was not a matter that VPS.NET was involved in.

    • says

      So now you have a goodwill disaster on your hands

      I honestly don’t believe you. Well I suppose that could be the situation if VPS.NET management are just puppets.

      Whether or not Ditlev has handed on most of his responsibility to you and Nick, I can’t believe he isn’t still very much intimately involved – it wasn’t so long ago he would still on occasion be the one picking up live chat on the VPS.net site and I even praised him for doing so.
      100TB for some of its offerings uses VPS.net – they are intimately intertwined.

      All the platforms are using OnApp which is Ditlev’s new baby… what you are suggesting is that somehow people aren’t talking to each other about a major change in ToS – the VPS.net ToS are a little more spread out but there is a high chance this change has made it in there as well.

      And ultimately VPS.net is the UK2 group that gets the benefit from this change financially… blame group management for it if you want but you get to be part of this by default.

      What your message doesn’t state is what UK2 Group is doing to try to rectify the problem, such as rolling back their decision until after Xmas to give SimpleCDN customers a chance to make alternative arrangements.

      What you need to avoid is coming up with any kind of migration offer, otherwise the court is going to have some real numbers to work with on financial gain.

      This page represents a material connection between 100TB and VPS.net other than parent company
      http://www.100tb.com/cloud-servers/

      I also love the line on this page
      http://www.100tb.com/why-10tb/bandwidth.php

      As you would expect unmetered bandwidth from 100TB is truly unmetered and unshared, with no limits and no small print. Unmetered servers use exactly the same SoftLayer network as their 100TB equivalents and are fitted with 1000Mbit ports.

      No limits and no small print = bullshit

  7. says

    I really hate hosting. You never get exactly what they promise you, their support desks never really know what they’re talking about and when you quote a line from their T.o.S. they always reply with a counter line. They should just say “Pay us this amount, and we’ll give you something in return.”

  8. sidepodcast says

    having followed these unfortunate events for a couple of days, i do believe nick when he says vps.net knew nothing of the changes. past history has shown vps.net to be grossly incompetent at almost every level of their business (go ask them about san devices, or automated billing). in fact i very much doubt anyone within uk2 is capable of coordinating the tying of their own shoelaces, let alone pulling off the masterstroke of annexing the market.

    ‘never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity’, or some such.

    • says

      I have hosted with VPS.net and made the mistake of paying them to check over a server for security and fix an issue I had with email. From that day forth I had 6 months of frustration and instability.
      I left not long after I had my servr offline for most of a week due to 3 DDOS attacks on their network, the last one resulting in me being null routed for 24 hours. The silly thing is I had to chase them about being null routed after they had said to their customers that all sites should be back online.

      I have friends who still use them – I decided you have to be a server jockey to do it and switched to a Storm Server.

      • sidepodcast says

        agreed, but none of that sounds like it was done with malicious intent.

        inept, hopeless, useless and clueless are all words i’ve heard used to describe people within vps.net in the past. i just can’t believe that this change was made because they’re suddenly making a play for the low-end cdn market

  9. sidepodcast says

    ps. not wanting to kick frank when he’s down, but i do think it’s unfair to label highwinds’ service as ‘garbage’. they excelled in certain areas, just as simplecdn excelled in others. we’ve had very good experience with highwinds in the past, it’s just a case of using the right tools for the right job.

    how, for example, did simplecdn’s global footprint compare to highwinds? i tested a while back and found highwinds latency to be at least 3 times *lower* than simplecdn’s.

    i appreciate the man’s frustration, but throwing mud in every direction doesn’t help anyone. at least highwinds are still serving our files.

    • says

      Well Frank is a former customer

      SimpleCDN in some ways has a chequered past in that when they launched I saw at least one article likening them to a ponzi scheme because what they were offering at the time was impossible to fulfil.
      They have flipflopped through so many different offerings I have lost track, but they were still hanging in there and providing a service… looks like the ponzi claims were unfounded. More like a loss leader to start… fair game.

      Among their prior offerings was highwinds, so Frank was certainly speaking as a former customer, and I have always thought he knew what he was talking about technically, thus I take heed from a former knowledgeable customer.

  10. says

    Hi I signed up on the istreamlive.net website for their CDN services, they do resell for Highlands and so far it seems like a very good service, I’d hate to say this but it seems a bit more reliable then the SimpleCDN offering.

    On another note, I have sent several emails in to support about a refund, I just put 200.00 in my account and did not use any of it. Any idea when I can expect a refund? I was going to ask on Saturday, but thought it would have been inappropriate at the time, and I have not seen anything posted on the site since, regarding refunds…

    • says

      Hi John

      Hopefully they will get you sorted out though I am not sure what kind of protection CC companies give in a case that might end up with SimpleCDN closing their doors with some kind of deficit.
      It is quite possible they haven’t even got all the numbers to work out what they can refund or legally who they might have to refund and in which order.

  11. says

    Yeah, I figured as much, it is not that big of a deal. 200.00 is not going to make or break me, they will have to contend with my wife though as it is going to take a night out to dinner away from her :-)

    Have you seen this istreamlive site? They seem to be very good. Was just looking for an opinion. A little gun shy if you know what i mean…

  12. says

    The biggest negative for me directly is this

    <title> CDN Services | Dedicated Wowza Server Hosting | Live Video Streaming |Simplecdn</title>

    This is on the company home page – trying to rank for the name of one of their competitors, who happen to be close to dead, SimpleCDN.

    That is sneaky, unprofessional, maybe a trademark issue and also in some ways shows their incompetence.

    One thing about Highwinds is they are cheap, but if you were to use any highwinds reseller, you might as well use VPS.net… I am not a fan of mentioning it here, but it is just as good a price from them, maybe better… with good integration with their other services.

    But I in some ways hate to see money going to them as a reward.

  13. says

    hi john,

    you are right, this is a dog eat dog world. if you don’t deliver or don’t have deep pocket, you just have to be ruled out. hosting business is no exceptional.

  14. says

    As a customer of several cdn providers including maxcdn and simplecdn, it’s sad to see simplecdn meet such a fate, but great to see maxcdn step in. simplecdn refugees you’ll be happy with maxcdn – very simple to setup and works very well.

  15. personalized gifts says

    With hosting, it’s crucial to get a bunch of people with more than one client care gene among them. If they’re responsive and well-meaning, we always get there in the end.

  16. Why America Sucks says

    That’s business for you. if you cannot cope with the demands of the market, you cannot stay afloat. That’s why many companies invest so heavily into advertising and R&D, so they always stay ahead of their competition with new and innovative ideas.

  17. Google Redirect Virus Removal says

    Very strange happenings. I can’t believe this could actually happen to such a huge company…kinda scary, like the financial crisis, to think how intertwined everything is and how one guy’s actions can be passed down the road to the little guy and KILL them. But still, if SimpleCDN wasn’t paying attention to the TOS, then they had what was coming to them I guess.

    • says

      Link removed as “wasn’t paying attention to the TOS” ;)

      As far as I can see from what SimpleCDN have stated in public they were in compliance with the ToS, but it is possible that UK2 Group were not passing on DMCA requests to them.

      They changed ToS to prevent CDN use, but define exactly what a CDN is?

      Is Ustream a CDN?
      Are YouTube or Vimeo a CDN?

      The only difference between them and a CDN is a CMS and membership portal, plus a custom player. Otherwise their whole sites revolve around delivering video streams. Video delivery can spike whether there is a portal or not.

      What you are doing using a CDN is outsourcing the technical side of handling spikes which SimpleCDN always seemed pretty good at.

      The letter from SimpleCDN and comments I have read suggest that had a huge amount of excess capacity, typically using nowhere near the maximum per server.

      All they would need to do to comply with the current ToS is add a player… then they become a private hosted video site where you can serve the video from your own domain.

      Then the rules / ToS would be changed again.

  18. says

    Hi ,i am from France and i found your blog while searching marketing information. Your content is very intersting for me, because we do not find any such good marketing blog in France. I wish you a good year

    Yvan,

  19. says

    As someone with inside information in the industry SimpleCDN was in trouble from the time it started.

    How can you call yourself a content delivery provider when your relying on the bandwidth of companies that have their own cdn services?

    For Simple CDN to ever have been a long term company they needed their own network infrastructure and peering like other CDN providers have.

    You guys hosting with MaxCDN/NetDNA might fall in the same problem since MaxCDN is no different then SimpleCDN as they do not operate their own network.

    SimpleCDN clearly did not have the financial means to properly run the company and/or defend itself since it could of filed an emergency injunction to force service to continue for a period of time and/or have Softlayer and others completely shutdown.

    So they failed, NetDNA/MaxCDN might be right behind them since they aren’t any different. Let’s hope they have cash.

    • says

      I suppose everyone has to rely on some kind of service provider, and it would depend on how well they negotiated a deal.

      Edit: and wasn’t YouTube built on Softlayer servers?

      Akamai (as an outsider) somehow leveraged 3rd party nodes

      Not everyone has to own their own pipes.

      • James Woods says

        Hi Andy,

        Sorry if im commenting wrong im new to this type of setup. My point is SimpleCDN’s business structure. Youtube, wordpress, etc… these companies have strategic deals that allow them to either have their own infrastructure or solid hosting agreements. I don’t recall youtube ever hosting with softlayer but i’ll take your word for it.

        If you look at some archive.org pages of SimpleCDN the company operated like a scam IMO. They came in; undercut the competition all the while using the ‘competitions’ networks to do so. At the time of it all going on SimpleCDN was utilizing networks for which didn’t have a CDN (Softlayer etc..) so it wasn’t competition at that time. However it turned into competition once SL got into the CDN business.

        So SimpleCDN never had a leg to stand on. I can tell you personally I tried contacting them numerous times when they started with some questions and I never got a response and the calls went to voicemail I believe.

        I can understand perhaps being blown off from an email response but if your calling a company during regular business hours how many times can you hit a voicemail?

        And i’ll add one more thing to this. Look at SimpleCDN’s actions after the fact. I originally sided with SimpleCDN however they simply acted out in desperation because they were broke and without a leg to stand on before this occurred & after it occurred.

        • says

          Hi James

          People can comment however they like on my blog and I welcome insight – even people who totally disagree with me.

          I only moderate spam, people who don’t comply with my comments policy as otherwise it gets abused, and wouldl probably comply with legal notices on a case by case basis.

          If you are referring to the comment interface, or the email replies to specific comments, that is pretty new here and I haven’t fully got to grips with it. For a long time I used conventional subscribe to comments, but that can result in lots of emails and people sending them to spam. Not good for any future email delivery.
          I prefer the specific method, but there are some issues with it for opt-out.

          I know when SimpleCDN started what they offered was a lot like a pyramid scheme. There was an unlimited bandwidth offer for a flat fee which was probably unsustainable for the long-term. But they wouldn’t be the first company to offer unlimited bandwidth.

          So I could well claim that now they are the pot calling the kettle black.

          But they moved onto a more sustainable pricing policy, first switching to Highwinds as a reseller for some of their plans, then other models.

          Also at times I have experienced a lack of support when contacting them, but at other times I managed to get quite a knowledgeable response from someone on Live chat. I certainly wouldn’t have suggested using them as a single supplier, or maintained a high credit balance, but for many the SimpleCDN pricing was the only way they could affordably deliver their content. Well other than maybe hosting it in China.

          Helping on the support on uQast currently I see the other side of the support process, and have our own issues not necessarily in time to respond, but time to get to a resolution and email delivery of responses.

  20. says

    This has always confused me the days of unlimited everything are not gone but when you realize you need something else it’s so confusing. Thanks for the illustration by the way. I’m a visual learner. Diagrams are the way to go.

  21. says

    Thanks for sharing all this regarding CDN. I’ve been generating real estate leads for a few years now using a couple of sites but feel I’d better get my act together concerning issues such as this so I don’t fall behind my competitors. Your content is great Andy.

  22. says

    Many of these CDN’s are super expensive. I was looking at cheap/free alternatives like dropbox? Or coral cdn. I think they suit me better then SimpleCDN or VPS.net

  23. Online GED says

    Us too, but in our case they illegally terminated our services. Hope that didn’t happen to you too.

  24. says

    I am curious to know where you are hosting now as I also had some issues with VPS and in the meantime hit onto this post.

    Also I have a feeling (without any proof) VPS in one way or another was attacked because of the killing of SimpleCDN. Moreover I have a feeling (again no proof) VPS being affraid of government attention because SimpleCDN could deploy Wikileaks docs….

    • says

      I have been with Liquid Web’s Storm on Demand service for 10 months and happily abuse their support every opportunity as I have become very lazy on stuff which doesn’t pay me money.

  25. says

    I have to agree with James and Bingo that this looks like a simple case of 2 larger companies (UK2 and Softlayer) boxing a smaller less agile competitor out of the market.

    I also want to step in and echo Daniel Lofton’s recommendation of Dropbox as a CDN. I’ve worked with Dropbox a lot and I’ve found it to be reliable for my needs…and you can’t beat the price ($0).

  26. says

    I consider this completely unethical and feel there should be huge penalties put in place for companies who conduct business this way. Some how server companies always miss the big picture that the things they do impact hundreds sometimes thousands of people and really it has to be put to a stop!!