Hacker News

Equinix is acquiring Packet(packet.com)

143 pointsjacobwg posted 7 months ago62 Comments
drej said 7 months ago:

A fun story! Packet support contacted me one day last fall to ask about my business. I said I had none, I used Packet years before then for personal projects and only for a few days. Then they asked what my plans were for the 13 VMs I had running. I knew of no such VMs.

I guess my account got pwned.

They asked how I'd pay for these - $900 worth I think - since I didn't have a valid card in their system (the previous one expired since I last used Packet). I told them to stop the VMs and allow me to reset my credentials. I also asked them to investigate their logs and geolocate all the users that logged into my account. I was also curious they actually let someone log into the account from a new IP (without notifying me) and also allowed them to run instances without a valid card.

They blocked my account, which also blocked this support thread. So I started a new thread from an alternative e-mail address to resolve the issues.

I never heard from them again.

ep103 said 7 months ago:

My company moved to packet about two years ago, for about half of our cloud-based server needs. We loved the pricing and figured it was worth a shot.

Over the last 2 years, we've had ~4 major outages on their platform. The last of these was so severe we're moving everything back off and over to aws.

rakem said 7 months ago:

4 outages in 2 years isn't horrible.... AWS would have the same story, as would basically any other hosting provider.

toast0 said 7 months ago:

It really depends on what you consider a major outage. If we set the bar at at events that would break customers using a single hosted location, 4 over two years isn't horrible. Things in this category are fiber cuts, automatic transfer switch failures and other power issues, PoP router mishaps, HVAC failures, etc. Steps can be taken by the provider to reduce the occurrence of these, but some will happen, and customers that care should build around it.

If we set the bar at events that break customers who have taken reasonable steps to be geographically distributed, 4 over two years is horrible. Things here are cascading router failure, BGP misconfiguration or external hijack, major peering dispute, bad push to critical systems. If these aren't rare, it's likely to be avoidable failures caused by the provider. Sometimes the earlier types of problems hit here too --- fiber cuts between regional data centers can be major problems if more things run on that fiber than expected; it's always fun to learn redundant fiber is in the same bundle, and usually that's learned when the bundle is cut.

bacheson1293 said 7 months ago:

same exact situation...we moved over all bright eyed with hip skip and a hop in our step...within 24 hours we experienced a full system-wide outage followed by a full system-wide block storage outage a few days later....their system has the reliability of a hobby project

erichocean said 7 months ago:

I've been on Packet for over 14 months and haven't experienced any downtime, ever.

DetectiveX said 7 months ago:

Any feedback is appreciated on this and what went wrong. I'd like to know how they can do better.

Eikon said 7 months ago:

Packet is not doing virtualization.

drej said 7 months ago:

Yeah, sorry, I mean VM as a bit of compute, regardless of its provisioning.

RationPhantoms said 7 months ago:

No it's bare metal but can you not run your own virtualization software on the devices themselves?

shaklee3 said 7 months ago:

I think the responder was questioning the phrase about packet asking about the customer VMs. You can certainly run VMs on top of bare metal, but packet doesn't know about that.

svd4anything said 7 months ago:

Exactly the story he has sounds fabricated. Maybe he is mixing providers up.

q3k said 7 months ago:

Likely bad news and writing on the wall for the open-but-competitive culture at Packet. Equinix has been historically turning every single acquisition into a closed-off enterprise-only product/service, especially in the IXP space.

hetspookjee said 7 months ago:

I didn't know how fast to turn around when I tried to register an account and they insisted I needed to provide a copy of my passport or drivers license. I don't know why I need to provide such information for a hosting provider as I've never had to do so before at any of their competitors.

or perhaps you mean something else with open?

ianhawes said 7 months ago:

They obviously wanted to verify who you were which is why they requested a government issued photo ID.

Good on them for being proactive about it instead of waiting until you had created a server. Could you imagine a production server being frozen while they wait for you to verify your identity?

Fraud is incredibly prevalent in the hosting space. Spammers, CC fraud, hackers, etc.. all stand to benefit from servers not obtained in their own name.

ryanlol said 7 months ago:

> Fraud is incredibly prevalent in the hosting space. Spammers, CC fraud, hackers, etc.. all stand to benefit from servers not obtained in their own name.

All of those can get fake id scans for a couple of dollars each.

ryacko said 7 months ago:

An affidavit doesn't cost much and requires presenting government ID. There would be no fraud if affidavits were required.

chucky_z said 7 months ago:

When I worked for a web host the drivers license/passport was normal. It sounds weird but stops some fraction of scammers.

GhettoMaestro said 7 months ago:

> I didn't know how fast to turn around when I tried to register an account and they insisted I needed to provide a copy of my passport or drivers license.

Hosting / pay for remote virtual stuff is notorious for abuse. I'm surprised AWS doesn't require an ID to get started these days. I understand why smaller player do, though.

Eikon said 7 months ago:

Packet’s offering are so good and so much above competition that it’s not even funny.

I mean, why almost no one else is offering BGP ECMP, byoip, anycast routing, a sane setup system among others. It boggles my mind.

It’s a hard sell going back to geoip and shitty layer2 switching that you get everywhere else after using their services.

swyx said 7 months ago:

hi I'm a mere frontend developer who doesnt do much at the network layer - do you mind ELIFEDing to me what exactly Packet got right? What's the big deal about automated bare metal? is it somehow a lot faster? cheaper? than virtualization? Is Packet 100% for edge computing or is Equinix kinda repurposing it in this acquisition for its edge computing strategy?

I feel like something that is so obvious to you is not obvious to me and it'd probably help other readers here to follow along. Thanks in advance

shaklee3 said 7 months ago:

Here's the way I see it: there are a lot of customers who don't need all of the AWS services. They also would prefer to be running on bare metal for performance reasons, and to have slightly more control over their application. I know AWS with the nitro instances are closing that gap, but packet was around before they had those.

Also, their provisioning software is excellent. From the time you choose to deploy, it takes only about 30 to 45 seconds for your instance to start. I know AWS is faster, but AWS isn't installing a new operating system each time. as the other posters pointed out, they have a lot of features that AWS will also not let you do, like bgp with ecmp.

lastly, they tend to have newer types of instances that other providers don't that you can play around on. The cavium arm processor comes to mind, which I haven't seen on any of the major cloud providers.

swyx said 7 months ago:

ok awesome. minor follow up - why do customers care about the newer instances like cavium arm processors? again is it a pure performance thing? or they are extremely optimized for some kind of workload?

maybe i'm so used to OSes abstracting things that I completely lack knowledge about what baremetal choices can do for me. this is a little scary.

shaklee3 said 7 months ago:

I can't speak for everyone, but ARM processors may be cheaper for some types of workloads. In terms of cores/$, they're cheaper, but some applications would perform far worse on those than on x86. Others just want to use them as a playground to test ideas without buying an ARM server.

Eikon said 7 months ago:

Well, bare metal is usually way cheaper for way more performance at the cost of often being less managed.

What packet got right is that you get the same functionality that you could usually only get in colocation environments using high-end networking equipment.

You may want to look up on the Internet for “BGP” and “Autonomous System” to learn more.

swyx said 7 months ago:

ha funny enough i have done a networks 101 course so am familiar with BGP and ASes. just feel like thats a big leap to Packet which is much more cutting edge.

thanks for the confirmation!

justinholmes said 7 months ago:

Google Cloud allows bring your own anycast ranges mapped to global load balancers.

cimnine said 7 months ago:

Vultr has byoip via BGP: https://www.vultr.com/features/bgp/ You can also implement anycast with it.

Feel free to use my affiliate link worth 50$ to you: https://www.vultr.com/?ref=7965104-4F

q3k said 7 months ago:

Vultr's BGP is not very good though. I regularly lose the full Internet BGP table from them and have to ask support to fix it. Supposedly it's some sort of limit of their network infrastructure. Another day they just randomly stopped announcing my prefix to the Internet, and since they don't even have a looking glass it was impossible to debug without, again, asking their support.

donalhunt said 7 months ago:

Packet's blog post: https://www.packet.com/blog/ping-power-processors/

This is probably a good play for Equinix as it provides a lower barrier to entry to a segment of the market that they typically haven't engaged (Packet being largely profitable probably helps).

In addition, I believe Packet already had presence in a number of Equinix datacenters so "landlord buys tenant" comes to mind...

dang said 7 months ago:

That's more readable, so we've changed the URL above to it from https://www.equinix.com/newsroom/press-releases/pr/123868/Eq.... Thanks!

gimmeThaBeet said 7 months ago:

Yeah, it feels like it has a lot of potential on paper, packet does a lot of stuff well that Equinix probably was thinking "why aren't we doing that? why isn't that us?" It feels like one of those cases where you really want that vision to survive at scale.

Making it easier for Equinix to leverage its resources to get people cloud-y style capabilities that isn't attached at the hip to the other clouds sounds like it would be a pretty good thing. And for Equinix themselves, being able to expand their direct offerings without stepping directly on the toes of the other cloud giants that are also its customers is likely always a good thing in itself.

shaklee3 said 7 months ago:

How do you know they're profitable?

donalhunt said 7 months ago:

Assumption based on 1) their pricing model and 2) them being acquired by Equinix (who I consider quite conservative).

shaklee3 said 7 months ago:

I believe their pricing model was cheaper than any of the major cloud providers for an equivalent compute and networking resources. Given that their margins are also lower due to the volumes, I wouldn't think that it's obvious that they were profitable just by their pricing model.

qaq said 7 months ago:

Their control plane is more simple

pm90 said 7 months ago:

I was hoping for Packet to be the next big bare metal provider so this is kinda sad at first glance. I’ve heard great things about them but haven’t used them; I was considering them for a side project of spinning up my own k8s cluster just because.

GCP and AWS probably fit the needs of most established businesses. I know quite a few startups that use bare metals though since they cost a lot less. Plus, you have complete visibility and control over your entire stack.

I hope others spring up to address the market of users needing extremely highly customized systems at the lowest costs.

technofiend said 7 months ago:

Considering their service offering I understand it, but they don't have pricing I'd consider hobbyist-friendly. So building a skunkswork project out of your pocket is prohibitively expensive. Having said that it's one of the few places that gives you enough control over your device and network to let you stand up origami infrastructure where you build a system that builds some systems that have a kubernetes cluster that hosts your app.

dilyevsky said 7 months ago:

Packet’s pricing doesn’t seem worth it to me compared to GCP - looking at their list prices they seem to be priced just 20% less for compute (actually same if you get e2s) so unless I’m missing something seems like very niche offering...

erichocean said 7 months ago:

GCP will literally shut off your servers, with email support only, and f*ck you. Happened to me right after I'd done a multi-million job for Nike the weekend before. No recourse, nothing. Just "we think this is fraud so we're shutting you down, here's a noreply email to contact us".

I wouldn't consider using GCP for anything I cared about. AWFUL customer service.

dilyevsky said 7 months ago:

Don’t put production account on cc

Edit: also gcp is just one example. DO has virtually same price tag

DetectiveX said 7 months ago:

They also offer discount pricing for long term contracts and etc. But depends on your use case among other things on whether a long term commitment makes sense.

dilyevsky said 7 months ago:

Well so do every other cloud vendor ;) - committed use discount on gcp is 30%

DetectiveX said 7 months ago:

Depends of course peoples needs for cloud. Some people need the power of bare metal and that's why most cloud providers are moving to making that an option.

dilyevsky said 7 months ago:

Probably mostly for marketing purposes (just to say they have it). Kvm/nitro penalty is within single percentage points these days so 99% of folks out there won’t even know the difference.

DetectiveX said 7 months ago:

But generally that 1 percent probably spends a heck of alot of money and pay the people to recognize the difference I'm sure.

mmmBacon said 7 months ago:

I wonder what the purchase price was. According to TechCrunch, Packet was valued at $100M and had raised $36M. https://techcrunch.com/2020/01/14/equinix-is-acquiring-bare-...

Hydraulix989 said 7 months ago:

With liquidation preferences, it would have to be at least $36M before the investors are fully repaid and the founders start seeing a single cent.

shaklee3 said 7 months ago:

It seems they are in the process of open sourcing their deployment software. Does anyone know how this affects that? The github repos are still empty.

walrus01 said 7 months ago:

Packet has to be the most impossible to google company name ever. Unless you google "packet + bare metal" or something.

GhettoMaestro said 7 months ago:

First result for me when I google "Packet". And has been for a year+....

ablekh said 7 months ago:

"When the transaction closes later this quarter, Packet will continue operating as before: same team, same platform, same vision. Our commitment to our customers ..." -- The question is how long before Equinix decides to change the status quo.

I'm seeing it as yet another (after recent news on Visa's Plaid acquisition) blow to diversification and competition in the cloud and technology ecosystems. Generally, industry consolidation is IMO a scary thing ...

senderista said 7 months ago:

This is sad news. I used Packet for a benchmarking project (https://github.com/senderista/hashtable-benchmarks) and was super impressed by the ease of use. Put EC2 absolutely to shame (and was much cheaper than EC2’s bare metal offering).

lovebigmacs said 7 months ago:

I'm not sure that very many people understood what sort of spot pricing Packet had. I have rented so many hours of EPYC server time for $.25/hr in SJC1. Or a 96 core ARM machine for $.30/hr in Amsterdam.

I had good luck with them and they were always responsive in their Slack. I was sad to see the news, anyway.

said 7 months ago:
ksec said 7 months ago:

So Equinx is stepping into Cloud Hosting?

What makes Packet any difference to, Linode, DO, Upcloud, Vultr, Hivelocity, and many others? Where the first few are bringing Bare Metal to its offering along with Database aaS.

ljsmith93 said 7 months ago:

Equinix has long been in the cloud game. Most public clouds have at least some presence in their data centers or using their global network backbone. I do believe this is their first venture into direct to consumer cloud sales assuming they retain Packet's business model.

daxorid said 7 months ago:

When IBM bought SoftLayer, it destroyed the value proposition of SoftLayer, and we had to move.

Looks like we'll be shopping for a new provider, again.

tsak said 7 months ago:

Running Bullshit.js over the press release...


johnedwards said 7 months ago:

Bare Metal Bullshit Packet is going to be my EDM group's name

penagwin said 7 months ago:

Freaking awesome name for a red team too haha.

Spivak said 7 months ago:

How is hybrid multicloud not flagged as BS?