Ninefold : Our Expert Opinion
Ninefold is a hosting company based in Australia, and it focuses exclusively on cloud hosting with a self-service control panel, allowing users to retain autonomy over the management of their VPS plan. The company is part of Macquarie Telecom, a larger infrastructure and hosting company that owns several facilities in the Sydney area.
Founded in 2010, Ninefold is a very new hosting company - it was acquired in 2011 by Macquarie, less than a year after it launched. Founder Peter James now serves as chairman.
Ninefold Hosting Plans
In terms of hosting, Ninefold concentrates on virtual servers. The philosophy behind its plans is this: customers can order, deploy and alter their cloud hosting with minimal intervention from its support team.
There are three virtual server plans, all charged on a price per hour basis. Both XenServer and VMWare Hypervisor are available, each with a variety of Windows and Linux templates. Users can also upload their own. Users get access to a management dashboard where they can check their resource usage and monthly spend.
Ninefold says that it strives to maintain 100% uptime, which is fairly typical for a cloud hosting provider. Given its infrastructure, it shouldn’t have too much trouble sticking to that promise. The host does have an uptime monitor on its website, and this displays data for the last month. It’s updated hourly. When I checked, the figures was above 99.95% - but not quite 100%. There’s no specific SLA in place that I can see.
As you’d expect, Ninefold’s two data centres are based in Australia - they’re owned operated by Macquarie Telecom, the company that owns Ninefold. Effectively, all of the facilities are in-house, and customers in Australia should experience better performance from local providers, compared to many cloud hosts who operate from data centres in the USA.
Each Macquarie Telecom data centre is ISO 27001 certified. All data stored in Intellicentre 1 is kept within Australia, and the facility is fitted with motion detection, biometric scanning equipment and big-brand server hardware. Intellicentre 2 offers full N+1 redundancy, a gold LEED rating (for its green credentials) and is Tier III Uptime Institute compliant.
Ninefold customers are invited to set up their own snapshot backups via the VPS hosting control panel; these can be triggered according to different schedules, and multiple copies stored in case of any issues. Although there doesn’t appear to be a system-wide backup routine, most customers should be more than happy with setting up and configuring their own backups. There’s plenty of comprehensive help material to get them started.
Ninefold’s cloud hosting is designed for people that are comfortable helping themselves. Support is primarily provided via a wiki, which is comprehensive and well-written. Unlike some hosts, Nintefold has actually invested time into its written help material, and because it’s a new company, all documents are up-to-date.
Users can also contact support via a ticketing system and via telephone; Ninefold offers toll-free numbers in Australia, the USA, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada. The company has a social media presence on most networks, but it doesn’t use social media for support purposes at all, despite claiming to.
Unfortunately, support isn’t provided 24/7 in all circumstances. Standard support is provided 8am to 10pm AEST (9pm until 11am GMT), weekdays only. Emergency support is offered round the clock, but this is only available if the customer has no connectivity to their virtual machine. This is in-tune with its DIY set-up, and a lack of ‘true’ 24/7 support isn’t unusual with small hosts like Ninefold, but it’s something to note nonetheless.
Remember: if you’re not in Australia, the support department’s opening hours are unlikely to coincide with your working day.
Ninefold in the News
In August 2011, Nintefold experienced severe downtime that caused some customers’ virtual servers to fall over. Specifically, some machines were taking as long as three hours to reboot and some of its OS templates were corrupt. The downtime lasted 12 hours.
Ninefold Control Panel
All of Ninefold’s plans are virtual servers, so customers can install any control panel they wish on their chosen OS, and are not tied to one particular brand.
Ninefold does not offer any free gifts or incentives to encourage new customers to sign up.
Ninefold Money Back Guarantee / Cancellation Policy
There’s no money-back guarantee at Ninefold, and no mention of a refund policy. If you feel you deserve a refund, you can request one in writing and send your request to the support department.
As a host, Ninefold is appealing to a very, very specific niche: Australian businesses that need cloud hosting. Like many hosts with a niche, its services are incredibly well aligned to its customers needs, and if you’re in that target market, you’ll probably have a very positive experience.
Ninefold is obviously a new host, and a small one at that - this will present benefits and drawbacks. The support it provides can’t compete with larger companies, yet - to be fair - it probably doesn’t need to compete, since business users will rarely need support outside their ordinary working day.
It would still be nice to see support extended to weekends, when many small businesses are likely to need it, and perhaps a secondary support team for its customers on the other side of the world.
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