When you get services for free, who do you call when they break?

Recently, we had an episode with someone trying to crack into some scripts and highjack them and steal bandwidth. Long story, but the server load was going nuts sporadically and slowing everything down in bursts.

Because we pay for servers and maintenance, it was a quick call to Jared, one of the smartest Unix geeks around. He was able to analyze the problem quickly, figure a solution to contain the “leak” and stop the drain on the server load. He acted quickly and skillfully because he works for a company that pays him well to know this stuff. They CAN pay him well because we pay top dollar for these services.

I know free is supposed to be the new currency and that many of my “peers” are reading this now, thinking I am nuts for paying for servers. But then stuff like this happens, I make a phone call and things are fixed.

Who do you call if you are getting your services for free? When Google’s Gmail is down, can you call Google and be up and running in a few minutes? No. When Twitter is throwing errors when you are trying to follow someone, can you call them? Will they answer an email to them? No and no.

How about Facebook? When something isn’t quite right, will they take a call? No. WordPress.com? Nope. Google Docs and Maps? Double nope.

And, what about API changes? When a provider changes their API, do they owe you development notice or change-order compensation. Noooo.. no, they don’t.

If your business is dependent on free services as your infrastructure, is that really smart? How serious is your business?

If you are dead serious about staying in business, you should be dead set on paying to play. In a crisis, money not only talks, it goes to the front of the line.