Am I the only one nervous about this Akamai acquisition?

I've been a Linode customer for over ten years. I chose Linode specifically because of its simple, developer-friendly, no-frills setup. Back then, there were no "NodeBalancers" or "object storage". It was pretty much, "Here's a Linux box with your chosen distro and the root password. Have fun and don't do anything illegal." That's exactly what I wanted, and it was exactly what I got. And I've happily hosted my tiny little business (and a spattering of small personal sites) here ever since.

I came to Linode from my previous host, which operated under pretty much the same premise. I won't mention their name, because they no longer exist. You see, they were doing well, offering simple, developer-friendly, no-frills Linux setups, growing at a steady pace… up until they announced they were being acquired by a much larger hosting company. I won't mention that company by name either, but I guarantee you've heard of them. And you're probably hosting at Linode because you wouldn't want to be hosted by them. They are not developer-friendly. They are over-priced and difficult to work with. They were a lumbering behemoth, a Great White Shark devouring everything in their path. And I didn't want to host my sites there. I switched to Linode because it seemed roughly equivalent to what my old host used to be, and I'm happy to say Linode turned out to be much, much better. It was a rough move, but a worthwhile one.

The domain name for my previous host now redirects to a page on the acquiring host's site that returns a 404. There is no hint of their name or past services. For all intents and purposes, they no longer exist. That's because large companies do what they always do to smaller companies they acquire. They reassure everyone that everything will stay the same. That you'll get the same great service you've always had only better! That you have nothing to worry about. Then, a few months or a year or two down the road, everything starts "migrating" to "new and better offerings". Prices go up. Previously free services you depended on either become expensive add-ons or disappear entirely. Developer-friendly freedoms become constricted "managed solutions".

I don't want to see that happen to Linode.

Not that long ago, a Linode customer service rep interviewed me, wanting to find out how the company could better suit my needs as a customer. I've never had a company reach out to me like this before in a personal, one-on-one way (spammy "please take this two-minute online survey" messages don't count), so I took a chance and agreed. I told the rep that I'm just a guy with two little Linodes, hosting one decently-sized site and a dozen smaller ones that nobody but me cares about. I'm not spinning up and turning down a dozen VPSes on a daily basis. I just want a reliable host that lets me build my own site my way, that doesn't get in my way or spam me with annoying up-sells, and offers great products at a reasonable price. "While it's great to see Linode growing and offering all these great services," I said, "I probably will never use them, just because I'll never need them. I already have exactly what I need."

"Don't forget about us 'little guys'," I begged him.

"We won't," he promised.

And now I'm seeing everything that happened at my previous webhost starting all over again.

This "little guy" isn't jumping ship just yet, but I am going to start looking for alternatives. I've already managed to escape one sinking ship. (Multiple sinking ships, if you count other previous hosts, but those situations were quite different.) I was hoping not to have to do it again. Maybe I'm just cynical, but these sort of acquisitions rarely tend to be in the customers' favor. Generally, the only ones who benefit are the already over-compensated CEOs riding their golden parachutes all the way to the bank.

9 Replies

A couple years ago, I found a number of sites and services I used, including ebay's payment backend and the auto parts dealer our commercial account is with, were suddenly unreachable. Akamai had just up and decided to block linode.

I contacted Akamai support about this, and got an exceptionally rude and dismissive response, that didn't actually address the issue at all. I politely replied back with more information, and never got another reply. I probably tried contacting them a dozen times over the span of three months, initially with another nice long, polite email, and towards the end was getting pissed off to where I was considering suing them. Then one day everything started working again.

So, that's my impression of Akamai. They do not care about you in the slightest. They won't even bother answering their support contact. They do not care if they harm you, their customers, anyone else, or the internet at large. And now they're taking over Linode.

Oh, and if you want a laugh, they're still blocking email from linodes. I tried emailing them yesterday about their plans for Linode, and 554 Blocked. Yep, you can't email them from what are now their own IP addresses. I suspect this is just a small preview of how they'll treat linode users.

I have my own concerns about how this acquisition will go, which mainly is a result of the fact that once it occurs, Linode won't really be Linode any longer. They will be Akamai, and if they choose to completely restructure things in a way that they think is better, Linode, or what was once Linode, won't really have a say in the decision. Perhaps it will be better for both companies, but perhaps not.

I'm hoping that not much will change, moving to a new host would be a bit more difficult for me than some, as I prefer to use Arch Linux, an operating system that not many good hosts seem to support. Linode, so far as prices, performance, network bandwidth, etc, is the best host that I know of which supports Arch Linux directly. Hopefully, that won't change, and hopefully, their VPS offerings and all that they currently have, won't change, either. We'll simply have to see what happens once things start moving forward more than they already are.

Blake

@jtdarlington I am in complete agreement with your entire post - same situation, same worries, same Linode usage! I couldn't have worded it any better.

I'm wondering if the previous owners plan to spin off a new related service on their own?

I'm also wondering what a decent alternative to Linode would be? If anybody has something comparable in mind, please post it!

I didn't know about the acquisition until I saw this thread… and then I did some quick research.

I read the Linode press release which said:

For the immediate future, we will continue to operate as we always have. Akamai has no intention of changing what has made us successful.

Hahahahahaahahahahahaha.

They must think we are really, really stupid.

So I ask: What ARE the alternatives to Linode for the small company or developer? Is DO any good? Is Amazon a possibility? Who else is out there worthy of consideration.

Yes, I will give the new conglomerate a chance, but after the first outage that does not get fixed or the steep price-rise we will be hit with, I'll be gone with probably many others.

The question is… where?

SAME HERE, I have spent almost $500 even more per month since I joined, (8 years) I also have DO, Amazon, but I always try to do things here because I BELIEVE in them.
Top-notch support, had many issues with customers like SPAM, Phishing, blocks, ETC ETC and I have always worked my way through them with the support team.

BUT, in the last 2 years, the support time response started lagging more and more, we went from minutes to hours to DAYS!

GUYS, something is WRONG, I was about to leave for DO a few months ago and I decided to stay due to this company being always Debt-free, bootstrapped, and so on, but yesterday's support ticket took almost 24hs to get answered and it is NOT GOOD SERVICE.

Beware that DO has a support queue for people that spend less than $500/month, once you pass that threshold you get blazing fast support.

I guess we will have to plan the move … too bad!

@tech10 Apologies for the delayed response, I'm just now stumbling across this thread. I'm one of the engineers that (among other things) does distros here at Linode. I actually was a customer before I started working here, and like you I chose Linode specifically for their Arch support (and the ease of use and pricing of course).

I have no idea how or what things will change under our new ownership, but I can tell you one thing: as long as I am still at Linode/Akamai Arch will always be a first-class citizen on our platform (and I will fight for that if I must). More broadly, and as a user of our platform myself, I don't want to see any of our current offerings/features go away or get gutted.

I don't wish to speak for anyone other than myself, but I'm sure that many others here feel the same way - at the end of the day we'll still be the same group of nerds that love our product as much as our customers do.

Disclaimer: this is not any kind of speculation or plea to keep people from leaving or whatever, simply my own thoughts on the matter.

This is good to hear, I'm glad for this response.

So far as others not supporting Arch Linux, I honestly have no idea why this is the case. Arch Linux isn't really that difficult to support. Automated images can be easily created. Of course, if other service providers weren't so focused on proprietary integrations and such as Digital Ocean does, perhaps things would be better supported.

Linode has always impressed me with their integration with mainstream options. DHCP for IPV4 assignment and stateless IPV6 configuration availability, this in particular I've not seen from very many hosts at all. In fact, this sort of thing is done so well that I was even able to run Windows on a Linode in an unsupported, unofficial configuration with ease, using the full virtualization option. I even got IPV6 working with this. I hope such things, the pricing model, etc, stays the same when Akamai takes over. Hopefully, as they have said, they won't change what has made Linode successful, and I think my thoughts reflect one of the large areas of success with Linode.

My support requests used to take hours, now there is no response for more than a day. I liked Linode because it seemed like they weren't trying to gouge your eyes out with pricing but if they can't respond to linode/nodebalancer migration questions in a timely fashion, what will it be like if something falls over in the data center? Do they even have enough staff to stand things back up or will it be days before we hear from them?

Usually, when something occurs in the data center that they know about, which they generally seem to know quickly, this is responded to swiftly. Also, I've had no issues getting timely support over the phone if I've ever called them. However, I, like others, have noticed the increasing time it takes to have support requests fulfilled if you don't call them.

The good days of 2010 when it would take anywhere between a minute to five to have basic requests answered seem to be gone, a shame, but understandable, as Linode is providing a lot more services than they did before. Block storage, object storage, images that you can customize, One-Click installs…

There is something to be said for a company that would focus on one thing and do it well, as Linode used to do with hosting a VPS and providing nameservers for domain management. That was all they used to do when I signed up, even before backups were introduced.

Now, it seems everyone wants options, the more the better, and the more that can be aggregated under one company they know, the better. I feel that, in general, quality has started to go down a bit from Linode offering so many things. Hopefully, Akamai will be a strength for them and not try and provide more services that increase the offerings of Linode more, but decrease the general quality of service even more.

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