We all remember when Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram shut down in April of last year for a whole day. And while it was terrible for their company—it’s an educational moment for the rest of us to learn from.
Facebook’s status page is self-hosted, and that puts their status pages at risk of the exact issue it’s designed to tell you about. When their services go down, their status page goes down with it because they’re reliant on the same infrastructure and customers will not have any information they need to understand what is happening.
Think of it like this: You go to your favorite pizzeria, and when you arrive somehow the door is closed with no signs as to why. Wouldn't that make you feel kind of annoyed? You don’t even know when or if they are going to open again! At this point you might very well start looking for a new pizzeria.
Now we don't know what happened with the pizza guy, but incidents like this can happen to your app or service as well. That is why it's crucial that you communicate effectively about them and as they happen, otherwise your customers might not come back to check if your service is available in the future.
Some companies opt to host their status page themselves, and it sounds like an attractive idea for a number of reasons like cost, control, compliance. However, ultimately this could come to the detriment of your incident communication strategy which we saw with Facebook.
Self-hosted Status Page
When you use a self-hosted status page, you need to spin up a server yourself and configure one of the existing open source status page solutions, or use an in-house/DIY solution. You’ll have full control over it and the resources will only be constrained by the underlying server.
Advantages of Self-hosted Status Page
It’s not uncommon that companies opt to host their own status page, especially since SaaS solutions for status pages are a relatively new concept. Here are the 3 big reasons businesses will choose to use a self-hosted status page:
On paper you’ll only have to pay for the server resources (VPS, hardware), so you’d imagine self-hosting would be a more affordable, low-cost alternative. However, we’ll explain later why this might not be true.
Another key benefit is having full control over the software. If you need a new feature or want to make small changes, you can potentially do it yourself. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to invest time and resources on it.
3. Data privacy
Finally, with a self-hosted status page you have full control over your data—and avoid giving yet another provider access to it. Keeping everything internal is often preferred for most businesses to protect their information. Plus, this makes compliance easier, especially for GDPR and similar.
Hosted Status Page (SaaS solution)
By comparison, a hosted status page, or SaaS alternative means leaving the management and development of your status page to a third-party provider with platforms like Statuspal.
Now, while self-hosting can have benefits that we covered above, there are still some downsides that can come up. In reality, the perks of self-hosting pale in comparison to the benefits of using a SaaS tool.
Advantages of Hosted (SaaS) Status Page
More and more businesses are seeing the downsides of self-hosting their status page—especially after the Facebook shutdown. When you compare both options, it’s clear that hiring a third-party provider will make your life much easier and help you communicate incidents more reliably.
Here are 4 reasons to use a hosted status page:
This is a major defining factor on why hosted is your best option when it comes to status pages, hosting your status page on a separate infrastructure is the best way to ensure it’s up when you most need it.
The last thing you want is to have your status page go down together with your services, resulting in the inability to communicate with your customers about the ongoing incident.
2. Actual cost
Self-hosting your status page might sound like the cheaper option on paper, but it doesn’t take into account all of the hidden costs.
Once you consider maintenance and development costs, using a SaaS to host your status page ends up the cheaper option in the long run.
3. Faster turnaround
With a SaaS solution, you can get up and running in a matter of minutes instead of days, weeks, or even months. Hosted status page services are optimized for efficient and effortless incident and maintenance communication.
On top of all that, they integrate with other services easily, like your incident management tools (PagerDuty, OpsGenie) and monitoring (Pingdom, Datadog, Newrelic).
They are also rich in features that leave open-source and in-house solutions behind. And since they’re designed to be easy to use, you can create and update incidents in seconds.
4. Data privacy
Finally, a big concern for businesses is data privacy. But when you use a reputable SaaS tool for your status page, then you can be confident they take all the necessary steps to protect your data.
At Statuspal we take data privacy and security extremely seriously. Additionally, We’re fully compliant with GDPR and we are the only providers with servers in the EU.
At the end of the day, self-hosting does make sense for many services—but incident communication is not one of them. When comparing the risks vs the rewards, the risks greatly outweigh the benefits.
When you use the same infrastructure for both, you’re going to suffer a lot more when your app or service goes down and it takes your status page with it. And worse yet, you’ll be leaving your customers in the dark as you’re unable to communicate about what’s going on.
However, if you must go with self-hosting your status page, always make sure to do it on a completely separate infrastructure. If you don’t then, you risk your customers not coming back, just like me with my ex favorite pizzeria.