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Prominic take the gloves off…

… and it isn’t pretty. The other day I googled Domino Developer Network, my hosting providers, and was amused to see this paid-for ad in the search results page (look at the right-hand side):

Domino Developer in Google

Today I received two unsolicited emails from Prominic, the other big player in the Domino hosting space. And I can’t say I’m impressed. Here’s the opening gambit of the mail:

Dear Sir/Madam,

When it comes to hosting a web site that you and your customers rely upon, no amount of downtime is good and extended outages are unacceptable. If your provider is having trouble keeping its end of the bargain, then it’s time to switch to Prominic.NET. We’re one of the world’s leading providers of managed hosting solutions for Notes Domino and other IBM Lotus technologies…

…and right now we’re offering 3 MONTHS of free hosting to anyone who switches to Prominic.NET from a less reliable provider!

Setting aside the rather snide approach that Prominic’s VP of Sales, Mark Roosevelt, is choosing to adopt (I thought this sort of marketing was beneath someone like them), I’m somewhat concerned as to how they got both my personal and company email addresses and thought it would be OK to mail me out of the blue. I didn’t opt in for anything like this with them or any of their affiliates. The mail finishes with a note that I can just call them or email them to get my address removed from their lists, but that’s not the point. How did I get there in the first place?

So let’s get back to Prominic themselves. They’re touting themselves as awesome Domino hosts, and I don’t doubt that. But why would I want to move? DDN are pretty awesome too. Consider what they’ve done:

  • DDN offer exceptional development platform hosting for $10 per month and;
  • you only pay for the options you add (mail, mail aliasing, extra Notes IDs, private address books, etc.)
  • My production plan is big in terms of disk space and bandwidth allowances, and it’s very good value for money
  • DDN are the guys who set up free ’blog hosting

This last point is the biggie—DDN are the guys who set up free ’blog hosting. A lot of Domino ’bloggers host on DDN’s free blog.dominodeveloper.net infrastructure, and I for one am extremely glad that DDN took this revolutionary step. If DDN didn’t exist I really don’t think we would have had the explosion in Domino-related weblogs that we’ve seen over the past four years. Case in point: when I started investigating Domino internet hosting some six years ago, the options were to go dedicated (eek! Well, “eek” in those days anyway), go with Prominic or go with DDN. The latter was far less costly than the former (still is), and more to the point was taking customer-focused gambles like the ’blog hosting scheme. That is why I shall be staying with DDN, and the nasty email above is why I shall be staying away from Prominic. Sorry, but this episode has really bugged me.

Comments

  1. Hmmm….
    It's certainly possible that they did some manner of Google search for references to competitor hosting providers, then manually harvested your personal email. Company email could have been gleaned from past Lotusphere. But who knows.

    I *do* know that the hosting biz is quite cut-throat. Last year or year prior (don't recall) I chatted with some of the hosting providers on the Lotusphere vendor floor. They were very open in stating how cut-throat the business is, and were competive in what they would offer - even to a small-time guy like me.

    I have tremendous respect for DDN, and applaud the free hosting for blogs. That is a huge gift to the Domino community. Personally, I've been with Prominic for years and have been extremely satisfied. But the vulture-esque nature of this marketing, while not surprising from any vendor, is a bit off-putting.Joe Litton#
  2. I'm with you, Ben. I got the exact same email, and I also don't know where they got my address, unless they're deliberately targeting Domino-based bloggers and harvesting email addresses off our blogs. I thought the email was in very poor taste.

    If I ever move from DDN, it won't be to Prominic. I'd give Chris Miller at Connectria a call instead, because Chris also does the free blog-hosting thing. And I'd recommend that if anyone NEEDS a different Domino hosting service than DDN, they give Chris a call. I don't consider Prominic a good community citizen after the sleazy email ploy.Rob McDonagh#
  3. Good on you Ben for blogging this. I got the same email. I found it in bad taste.jonvon#
  4. The e-mails you received were sent in response to the increased mail, telephone and web site traffic our Sales department received when DDN was completely and totally down for over 24 hours starting on Monday, October 15, 2007. We received several inquiries from frustrated DDN customers looking for a reliable Domino hosting platform. Many stated that DDN were not answering their phones.

    We did nothing extraordinary to discover your e-mail addresses: We went to DDN's online directory of customers and looked at the contact information on the web sites the directory linked to.

    While DDN pricing may be competitive, I am confident that Domino users will continue to find great value in Prominic's many offerings and reputation as a technology leader and reliable hosting provider--the many leading-edge yet affordable options mentioned in the e-mail but not in your post. (and let us not forget 1 TB of monthly bandwidth per account and free technology-related blog space ;-)
    Mark Roosevelt#
  5. @4: Classy. I didn’t mention all your marvellous options because funnily enough, I’m not out to advertise Prominic. And frankly, I see even less reason to want to talk to you now.Ben Poole#
  6. @4 - Did Ben, Rob or Jon contact you asking for information? No, you admitted "We did nothing extraordinary to discover your e-mail addresses: We went to DDN's online directory of customers and looked at the contact information on the web sites the directory linked to."

    That's about as sleazy as sleazy gets. This is a pretty small community and you don't get ahead by using these kinds of cheap tactics. I'd rather deal with an occasional outage than a company with business practices counter to my own code of ethics. When I bring my own site online in a month or so it won't be with Prominic, that's for sure.Charles Robinson#