Hosting on the Internet is foundational to any brand's success, yet so rarely does the underlying infrastructure that runs your website get the credit it deserves.
Squarespace's hosting was put to an extreme test when Hurricane Sandy ripped through Mid-Atlantic states this past week. Despite losing a data center, almost losing the ability to power another one, and a myriad of New York City-wide outages, Squarespace's hosting proved reliable - not a single Squarespace website went down during the storm.
Squarespace Hosting Infrastructure
As a former IT project manager, I marvel at Squarespace's hosting infrastructure. Their shared hosting model houses every single one of the tens of thousands of Squarespace websites out there, providing unique scale and hosting service levels that one would be hard-pressed to find in an individual hosting account.
For as attractive as shared hosting can be, it also comes with a sizable risk. If Squarespace's central hosting solution fails, every single Squarespace website would go down with them. It's for that reason I watched breathlessly as Sandy made her way to Manhattan.
Large IT Operations and Disaster Recovery
Most large scale networks have a disaster recovery plan in place. These plans typically include a secondary set of servers that a company can seamlessly switch over to in the event that the primary data center is compromised.
Squarespace is no exception, and they had to do exactly that when the primary servers at Peer 1 (Squarespace's hosting partner) began to take on water when Sandy hit. Like a textbook move from a disaster recovery play book, the hosting switched over to the back-up servers. But Sandy wasn't done testing Squarespace after the flawless failover.
While the back-up servers were high and dry on the 17th floor of the disaster recovery (DR) site, the fuel pumps that powered the servers were located in the basement. No sooner did Squarespace change over to the back-up servers did they run into a challenge of how to keep them powered.
In a tense multi-day ordeal that followed, Squarespace, Fog Creek, and Peer 1 employees literally hauled fuel from truck up seventeen flights of stairs to generators to ensure that every single Squarespace website remained accessible.
It's amazing to me that despite a modern DR plan, it was the grit and determination of Squarespace, Fog Creek, and Peer 1 that kept my website hiccup free and happily chugging along 1,000+ miles from Sandy's aftermath.
Customer Comfort with Squarespace Hosting
It brings me great comfort as a customer to know that the Squarespace team will do whatever it takes, literally, to keep my website up and running.
Was Squarespace's a perfect disaster recovery plan? Not entirely. Did Squarespace websites continue to run despite a nasty Hurricane Sandy and some unforeseen events? Absolutely.
In retrospect, I'm sure Squarespace will be discussing with Peer 1 whether a DR site outside of Manhattan makes more sense in the future. But in the absence of a perfect plan, I'm confident that by pure hustle and dedication alone that my Squarespace hosting will be in tact and uncompromised for as long as I'm a customer.
Update (11/9): Squarespace emailed its customers with an update on its infrastructure on 11/8 in which Anthony Casalena confirmed Squarespace is indeed working on a geographically redundant DR plan currently, which will be up and running early in 2013. Outstanding!