Reactive vs. proactive, SLA, communication channels & styles

Reactive Support

There’s an old saying that goes: “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The reactive IT support model is based on this same attitude. When you go with a reactive plan, you won’t be contracting the services of an IT service provider until you actually need them. When there is a problem, you call them up, and a plan of action is made. In many ways, this might be described as a more streamlined model.

The main advantage of this support model is that it tends to be cheaper. When your hosting provider doesn’t have to give constant attention to your account, it lowers their costs and lowers yours as a consequence. However, there are certain key problems with this approach. The biggest problem is the fact that a reactive model makes no provision for the prevention of problems that Magento can experience.

Another big problem is network downtime. When you experience a problem, you will make a call to the service provider, but you will have to wait for them to deploy people to address the problem. Chances are, you will experience more network downtime when you go with a reactive plan, and that can get really expensive.

Proactive Support

When you are evaluating different hosting solutions, you are basically choosing between a good value and a better range of services. You will certainly pay more for proactive services, but you will get a lot for that money. Proactive-style hosting solutions come bundled with all kinds of extras, and all of those extras will take some pressure off your in-house IT team. They will have more time to concentrate on growth and improvement when they are relieved of all that routine maintenance work.

To be fair, a reactive approach might be better for certain companies. If your IT needs are very small, and if your in-house team doesn’t need any help, a reactive plan might be a better option for you. However, if your business grows larger over time, you might find yourself in a situation where a more proactive approach is required.

In the end, the deciding issue here is that of network downtime. Even a single minute of downtime can cost your company thousands and thousands of dollars in lost business. Thus, the quick response time of a proactive plan will save you a lot of money. Depending on the size of your business, a reactive plan might even cost you more than its worth. Thus, we would say that a proactive approach is a much better idea for all but the smallest of businesses.

Proactive Support Scenarios

  • Site goes offline due to malicious attack vector:

    - NOC responds to alert and mitigates the issue.
         - An even more proactive measure is implementation of WAF to prevent attacks at the edge.


  • Site goes offline because of full hard drive:
    - NOC prevents outage by alerting merchant prior to critical failure.


  • RAM or CPU shortage cause outage:
    - NOC investigates root cause and reports to merchant.
         - An even more proactive measure is to monitor resource utilization prior to reaching max utilization.
         - Sizing the environment correctly from the beginning to prevent utilization breach.
         - Provisioning an auto-scaling environment for unpredictable resource utilization.


  • SSL Certificate expires:
    - Support and automation prevents this from occurring in the first place.


  • Any reason that could cause an outage:
    - Proactive provisioning, monitoring & support is alerted and responds to outage.
         - An even more proactive approach is having an Account Manager with scheduled check-ins.


At a bare minimum, you should have a 99.999% network uptime guarantee, instant access to phone support 24/7/365, 15 minute response times via email or ticketing system and access to escalation paths.  View an example of a comprehensive MSA here.

Communication Channels & Styles

As simple as this may sound, your lead developers and IT team should have access to your hosting provider along with documentation on historical communication.  They should also have instant access to support when needed.  When standard communication channels just don't cut it, why not have access to your hosting provider via Slack or video conferencing?  There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to this, so having access the way you are accustomed to will go a long way.  

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