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Recently I began work on an eBook about the hosting industry and there is a key issue which I often encounter with many of my clients.

I wanted to ask what are the best methods for a person to check and ensure the hosting company they are doing business with actually owns the hardware and is not simply acting as a middle man.

To date I've simply checked the nameservers however recently I've seen many reseller packages toting customized nameservers to hide the identities, hence my question.

Thank you very much in advance for any assistance.

UPDATE: To clarify my definition of "reseller"

By reseller I'm referring to people who purchase resources in bulk from companies like DreamHost, Hostgator, or another provider and offering services from there. Regarding the datacenter - CoLo is what I consider acceptable.

My server admin actually has a cage from Softlayer and he built his company off his lease there (along with a few other centers across the US and in the UK). I'm concerned about "resellers" who a re simply selling re-brandedshared plans because it's easier for them to go under without regard to their clients.

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closed as off topic by Shane Madden, Sirex, John Gardeniers, womble, voretaq7 Aug 14 '12 at 4:26

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2  
Why does it matter whether or not they own the hardware? –  joeqwerty Aug 14 '12 at 2:06
    
Well as many reseller programs require clients to contact their "hosts" rather than getting direct support access to the parent company, there is a significant delay with processing requests. Additionally since resellers have little investment in the equipment, if they default on the bills all their clients will be left without their websites. –  theonlylos Aug 14 '12 at 2:11
2  
What about companies that use hardware from a provider such as Rackspace, Amazon, or Linode? Surely you can't argue that these aren't legitimate businesses? –  David W Aug 14 '12 at 2:59

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The line here is extremely blurry: What constitutes a reseller? For example, I rent a private rack in a local datacenter. The equipment is 100% owned and managed by my company, including our firewall and switches. I also have my own /26 (~64 IP addresses). Let's do a bit of research:

[jjbegin@bane ~]$ host rightbrainnetworks.com
rightbrainnetworks.com has address 64.9.208.136
[jjbegin@bane ~]$ whois 64.9.208.136
[Querying whois.arin.net]
[whois.arin.net]
#
# Query terms are ambiguous.  The query is assumed to be:
#     "n 64.9.208.136"
#
# Use "?" to get help.
#

#
# The following results may also be obtained via:
# http://whois.arin.net/rest/nets;q=64.9.208.136?showDetails=true&showARIN=false&ext=netref2
#

NetRange:       64.9.192.0 - 64.9.223.255
CIDR:           64.9.192.0/19
OriginAS:       AS32477, AS11115
NetName:        ONLINE-TECH-INC
NetHandle:      NET-64-9-192-0-1
Parent:         NET-64-0-0-0-0
NetType:        Direct Allocation
Comment:        ADDRESSES WITHIN THIS BLOCK ARE NON-PORTABLE
RegDate:        2001-02-14
Updated:        2012-03-02
Ref:            http://whois.arin.net/rest/net/NET-64-9-192-0-1

OrgName:        Online Tech Inc.
OrgId:          ONLT
Address:        305 E. Eisenhower
Address:        Suite 300
City:           Ann Arbor
StateProv:      MI
PostalCode:     48108
Country:        US
RegDate:        1998-04-14
Updated:        2012-01-12
Ref:            http://whois.arin.net/rest/org/ONLT

OrgNOCHandle: ZO25-ARIN
OrgNOCName:   Network Operations Center
OrgNOCPhone:  +1-734-213-2020 
OrgNOCEmail:  noc@onlinetech.net
OrgNOCRef:    http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/ZO25-ARIN

OrgAbuseHandle: ZO25-ARIN
OrgAbuseName:   Network Operations Center
OrgAbusePhone:  +1-734-213-2020 
OrgAbuseEmail:  noc@onlinetech.net
OrgAbuseRef:    http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/ZO25-ARIN

OrgTechHandle: ZO25-ARIN
OrgTechName:   Network Operations Center
OrgTechPhone:  +1-734-213-2020 
OrgTechEmail:  noc@onlinetech.net
OrgTechRef:    http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/ZO25-ARIN

RTechHandle: ZO25-ARIN
RTechName:   Network Operations Center
RTechPhone:  +1-734-213-2020 
RTechEmail:  noc@onlinetech.net
RTechRef:    http://whois.arin.net/rest/poc/ZO25-ARIN

#
# ARIN WHOIS data and services are subject to the Terms of Use
# available at: https://www.arin.net/whois_tou.html
#

This tells you who ARIN assigned my netblock to, which is Online Technologies, my datacenter provider. But there's no mention of me or my company. It's because I don't have my own assignment from ARIN, so I'm subletting address space. But all the equipment is owned an managed by me. Does this mean I'm a reseller of the datacenter?

As part of our hosting, we also provide CPanel accounts. A feature of WHM/CPanel is the ability to create sub-accounts. I have one business partner who resells accounts that he sets up and provides first-level support. But I've available for second-level support, which I provide on a routine basis. Is he considered a reseller?

I'm a bit confused on how you can be writing a book on the web hosting business without understanding how nebulous your question is?

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1  
I can think of a hundred different examples outside of the technology industry where the idea posited in the question seems to fall flat. If I buy concert tickets I'm buying them from a ticket vendor who has a relationship with both the band and the venue but has ownership in neither, yet they're selling me a product that gives me access to said band in said venue. –  joeqwerty Aug 14 '12 at 2:15
    
I'm sorry if I wasn't totally clear with my question. By reseller I'm referring to people who purchase resources in bulk from companies like DreamHost, Hostgator, or another provider and offering services from there. Regarding the datacenter - CoLo is what I consider acceptable. My server admin actually has a cage from Softlayer and he built his company off his lease there. I'm more concerned about "resellers" who are simply selling re-branded shared plans because it's easier for them to go under without regard to their clients. –  theonlylos Aug 14 '12 at 2:15
1  
@theonlylos There is no reliable way to do this. Back to my example: ns1.rightbrainnetworks.net is a "vanity name" for a nameserver provided by Zerigo. I could host my own DNS, but find it easier to pay for their services. So again, it wouldn't tell you anything about whether I own my own hosting gear or not. There is no magic bullet to answer your concerns. You just need to do your research on a case-by-case basis. –  jamieb Aug 14 '12 at 2:23
    
Okay - that's what I was thinking because my server admin said that if the nameservers can be altered, there's no giveaway (at least that he is familiar with) –  theonlylos Aug 14 '12 at 2:31

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