Thanks for the opportunity to answer these questions!
I anticipate this will be a multi-part answer and you will need some
additional clarification on my answer.
Rackspace.com is a well-known provider in this space, and is certainly
one of the larger companies. Another example of a corporation in that
space would be Interland. There are hundreds of smaller hosting
companies (Voxel, Dreamhost, NAC.NET, etc) that could offer similar
services. DellHost also competes in that space.
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to collocation, as
you have noted, and it is not suitable for all businesses. There is a
fine line being walked between targeted e-mail (opt-in, as you
describe), UCE, and mailed directions to jump pages. I'd like to go
down your requirements list first, and evaluate how providers should
handle each of these and offer some commentary.
1. A network that understands that a portion of our business involves
sending permission based email. WE ARE NOT SPAMMERS, but we do send
permission based email and sometimes somebody complains. We can
provide information supporting subscription for any subscriber (date,
time, ip, method, etc), and we confirm subscriptions and we respect
unsubs, but people forget and I we can not have servers taken off line
with out notification because some idiot forgot he signed up.
This varies widely per business, as you no doubt have found. Some
people, as soon as you say the word "mailing", run away screaming in
fear regardless of the potential profit available in that business.
Others understand statements such as yours and will be happy to move
forward in the relationship. It just depends.
2. Network redundancy. The network must not go down. There must be
connectivity through at least 3 separate providers. There must be
excellent peering relationships.
You'll find that many hosting companies with the exception of DellHost
and Interland do have strong connectivity but NOT necessarily strong
peering relationships. DellHost and Interland have benefits here in
that they have multiple hosting centers and have focused their
connectivity around neutral facilities, such as Equinix and PAIX.
There is an additional set of research that would need to be performed
here to carefully evaluate actual connectivity. Providers will say
often that "we have transit through group X" but the reality is they
have transit through group Y who then sends through group X.
3. They must provide dual cpu machines running RH Linux (preferable
7.3, but this is negotiable) which support at least four (4) gigs of
ram (more is better).
This is a very easy requirement to satisfy and most providers will be
willing to do so.
4. The provider must be responsible for the hardware maintenance and
provide 24x7 staff for hardware failure. Professionally reasonable
standards for hardware replacement/repair must be offered.
This is standard among all but the most fly-by-night hosting
companies. Smaller regionals and nationals, such as DreamHost, may
require additional charges for this service.
5. They must either maintain the servers and install the software we
require, or provide us root access and allow us to maintain the boxes
This, again, is a very common request among "dedicated" as opposed to
"shared" hosts and is easily satisfied.
6. They must provide backup services (not to the same machine) for
full weekly backups atleast 500 GB of data across multiple machines
and daily incremental. They must save backups for atleast 14 days, 28
days is very desirable. They must provide a set of backup tapes at
reasonable cost on demand.
This is a significant request. Many providers (including Rackspace,
if I recall) do not offer backup services with this kind of
flexibility. Here you are moving into a slightly different realm,
that of hosters such as Springboard, Peak Ten, NAC, etc who are more
willing to work with you but are more focused in a "collocation"
environment as opposed to a dedicated, managed hosting service. That
being said, however, it is not unreasonable to have them (meaning
whoever your provider of choice is) prepare a backup service for you
under contract with, for instance, Iron Mountain and have them manage
7. Connectivity at 100Mbs not 10Mbs
This, again, is very standard.
9. We do about 1200 GB of transfer per month, we should neither be
their biggest or smallest customer.
This equates to roughly 3-5Mb/s if my calculations are correct. Most
providers can handle this easily. Look for someone with well-utilized
10. To be able to make DNS changes with out waiting on people or
opening a ticket.
Many more popular dedicated managed providers offer this service. As
I recall, Rackspace does. Dreamhost is actually very good in this
area, offering a solid control panel interface with rapid response.
11. Multiple IP address per machine. We can not use name based virtual
hosting. We can provide justification, but do not want a hassle around
Any provider in this business who cannot understand this request
should be out of this business.
12. They must provide an SLA for 99.9% uptime, 99.99% or better is
Many providers in dedicated, managed hosting environments are doing
five nines or better, given that you have either a) multiple servers
with them or b) they have a large "virtual" or blade installation.
13. They must be financially stable.
The hosting market is undergoing a chaotic change right now and the
financial stability of companies outside of the ones with other
businesses (e.g. Dell) is in serious question.
14. They must have been in business for at least 2 years.
Your "likes" are all reasonable, with the exception of SANs, which
most people aren't doing.
I'm curious why you aren't working with another company (such as
Twelve Horses) to support your campaign management (speaking of
jonathanjonathan-ga, the truth is, you really have a ton of options
here. Your requirements, even with backup, are not extraordinary.
There are some smaller providers who are well connected (National
Networks, NAC.net, Hurricane Electric) who all come to mind who would
probably be more than willing to architect a solution for you in terms
of reasonable price. Those folks are all well-connected in terms of
transit, and in NAC and HE's case, have very strong peering
arrangements. Peering won't help you if you don't have a good
understanding of what networks you have to send your traffic to, and
if you do most people will work out a private interconnect arrangement
for you anyway. Many of the providers listed here are extremely
clueful and "old hands" at this business.
Best of luck to you; I look forward to followups and will be doing
some additional research wrt other providers in this space vs your
requirements and post anything "new" I find.