Linode Managed Services

Greetings,

Linode is considering rolling out a managed services offering and we would like your feedback on the idea. What do you believe would be most important to include in the offering? What are the keys to ensuring its success?

All feedback is welcome.

Thank you for your consideration.

107 Replies

@fdenkens:

You stole our Belgian beer style? How did you do that?

I think these guys probably took too many pictures during a tour.

@liamjfoy:

Uh oh

I, for one, am content to let the Belgians corner this market. We did kinda steal the Belgian beer style.

![](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ … angale.jpg">https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a2/Ommegangale.jpg/220px-Ommegangale.jpg" />~~source

No matter what, though, I think there is and always will be room for organizations like iLibris. A cloud infrastructure provider is going to need to be big, and that limits the amount of flexibility they can offer. Another provider offers a managed service level, but I think the limitations and caveats speak for themselves.

Linode has more customers on a single server than you have total customers. In practice, they can't compete with you in your space.~~

Being managed without forcing users to use control panels as every other managed company do..

My biggest constraint with Linode as-is would be storage followed by memory. I think a lot of people here might agree.

So, something to help alleviate those specific pressure points. The first thing that springs to mind would be managed $DATABASE. Combine this with optional replication between your datacenters and you could have an awesome solution.

I have my postfix tables stored in MySQL, I have databases for friends who use my Linode, I have a database for a Zabbix instance. If you gave me an option to stop hosting that data on my Linode (reducing both storage and RAM and CPU requirements) while making that data available in every datacenter that I have a Linode in, that would be amazing (just don't restrict connectivity to the hosts in question!). It would be oh so nice to simply create a database, insert a row, and have a user be available on all available mail servers… without the underlying database configuration.

The other thing that comes to mind would be caching HTTP proxies in front of the Linodes. One of the common questions that pop up boil down to "PHP and apache eat my RAM/CPU, how do I fix this?" and while there are a lot of things that can be done to help with this, nothing quite compares to simply not spending CPU cycles in the first place. We can't easily do such caching without buying multiple nodes and using the internal networks.

The last thing that comes to mind would simply be a big ISCSI drive that I can mount and expand my storage by some large quantity of gigabytes. TF2 and L4D2 servers are terrible when they come to storage constraints, and moving my mail stores to such a volume would be a welcome help as well.

You can't beat google for email hosting, so don't bother. I don't think that you can beat $2USD/mo "unlimited transfer" web hosting companies either. So, don't offer the generic hosting services that everyone offers. Offer things that would be a huge benefit to your existing customers with their current plans. Your backup and DNS services are great examples of such services that work great with this idea.

edit: add memcached to the list!

side note: we have no real way of telling that you are actually from Linode..

Another idea would be a managed load-balancing service. To start with, just HTTP load balancing where there is a single external IP address, and I give you the list of my internal IP's to balance traffic between, with some sort of auto-detection and removal if one of my nodes stops servicing requests.

Forgive me my paranoia, csmith, by why don't you have a "Linode Staff" badge in the userbox?

Also, IMO, Linode doesn't need managed services. It'd probably require quite a bunch of additional employees, and might be a step on the way to Rackspace. >.>

A mix of one-time services, per-problem services, and ongoing monthly plans would be useful for many users. Not everyone needs ongoing management services, and not every service can be realistically covered by a monthly fee.

Maybe the following bundle for new users, at a one-time fee:

  • Setting up a simple LAMP server with appropriate default settings

  • Install some useful tools such as fail2ban and munin

  • Migration of up to N websites from another host

Maybe use per-problem pricing for the following services:

  • Making specific changes to server configuration (e.g. move the DB to another linode, adjust tuning parameters after an upgrade, identify a specific performance bottleneck, etc.)

  • Finding out why a server got compromised, so that the same server doesn't get hacked into again. (Cost could vary widely, depending on man-hours required.)

Other services might be provided as a monthly plan:

  • Keeping server packages updated (weekly apt-get update)

  • Keeping common web apps (e.g. WordPress) updated

  • Generally monitoring the server so that it works smoothly

Many "server management" services operate on a flat monthly-fee model, so they sometimes have to do a lot of work at once (which may lead to poor quality) or very little work for the same fee. Since the "cloud" is all about paying only for what you use, it might make more sense to charge users only for the management services that they require.

@rsk:

Forgive me my paranoia, csmith, by why don't you have a "Linode Staff" badge in the userbox?

Also, IMO, Linode doesn't need managed services. It'd probably require quite a bunch of additional employees, and might be a step on the way to Rackspace. >.>

Ditto on both.

He is a member of Linode staff, and his forums account will be updated to reflect this.

@csmith:

Greetings,

Linode is considering rolling out a managed services offering and we would like your feedback on the idea. What do you believe would be most important to include in the offering? What are the keys to ensuring its success?

All feedback is welcome.

Linode does one thing very well, it offers stable and affordable virtual servers. If you start offering other services it's only going to be a distraction from your core business. You will end up being in the user support business and user support is hell. There are plenty of other managed services companies in the world. I don't think the current Linode users really care for them or they would be using them instead.

I'd much rather have native IPv6 than any form of managed anything.

@sednet:

I'd much rather have native IPv6 than any form of managed anything.

:roll:

as if those are mutually exclusive.

@glg:

as if those are mutually exclusive.
He didn't say that they are mutually exclusive, just that, if manpower is available, he would rather that it was devoted to rolling out native IPv6 than implementing managed services.

@sednet:

You will end up being in the user support business and user support is hell.
Q.F.T.

Network storage access. Load up some machines with drives and allow us to either mount them from within the OS or, even better, from within Linode Manager with a limitation that you can't install your on the network storage.

@carmp3fan:

… with a limitation that you can't install your on the network storage.

Why? There are lots of miserable, slow, unreliable VPS hosts that use network storage. If users want to inflict that upon themselves, why not let them?

Edit: I imagine it would be a huge pain in the ass – especially since people would want live migration as well -- but I don't think it should be dismissed out of hand.

Edit: Not that I'd use it. …Actually, I really might use network storage if it was super-cheap, but I wouldn't boot off it.

Because I am picturing this as a supplement to the space that is included in the package, not as a replacement. To me it doesn't make sense to allow an entire OS to be run from shared storage.

@carmp3fan:

Because I am picturing this as a supplement to the space that is included in the package, not as a replacement. To me it doesn't make sense to allow an entire OS to be run from shared storage.

e.g. a linode version of S3, not EBS which went to pot on amazon's USA-East region last week.

@carmp3fan:

To me it doesn't make sense to allow an entire OS to be run from shared storage.

It apparently makes sense to some people, since they do it. One advantage is live migration of VMs between hosts. I imagine it also makes storage provisioning more flexible.

@AviMarcus:

e.g. a linode version of S3, not EBS which went to pot on amazon's USA-East region last week.

Correct, but I'd even be happy with a simple samba or NFS mount.

@mnordhoff:

@carmp3fan:

To me it doesn't make sense to allow an entire OS to be run from shared storage.

It apparently makes sense to some people, since they do it. One advantage is live migration of VMs between hosts. I imagine it also makes storage provisioning more flexible.

Yes, it makes sense in an enterprise but I don't think it makes sense in a situation like this. You are provided local storage for your OS install. In an enterprise it is common to have diskless servers when booting off the SAN. That is not the case here. We also don't have live migration. I'm only asking for storage as a managed service, not live migration and all kinds of other features.

While we love hearing feature requests of all kinds, I'd appreciate it if you could keep them in the feature request category and keep this thread on the topic of the proposed managed service.

I know many of the forum regulars here are experienced Linux admins and are independent and may not see the need, but I believe there is demand for managed services. People probably do not want to be on call 24h/day to monitor their servers, services and apps, or learn the intricacies configuring and tuning services, or just worry about things in general. We want to worry for you. So I guess the question is: what types of things could some smart admins help you with?

-Chris

Besides my earlier idea of managed load balancing, I think a managed mySQL service would be interesting. Priced based on total storage and queries per second, or some measure of query complexity, or something. Or punt and price based on size, CPU, and IOPS.

But in any case, for larger or busier databases, would be great to know someone else is dealing with backups, snapshots, hardware scaling, etc.

I'd love to see a monitoring service that would alert Linode of any downtime of the main services: httpd, mysql, ftp, mail, dns, etc.

If a service is to fail, Linode support would receive a ticket submission and look into the situation.

Non of us can be awake 24 hours to keep things online. I believe that this would be a worthy option instead of a support service that would just clog the ticket system with useless "how do I" questions.

Currently Linode provides a service of keeping the machines online. That is where Linode stops. To offer a service to keep the services online would complete the cycle, IMO.

@internet54:

I'd love to see a monitoring service that would alert Linode of any downtime of the main services: httpd, mysql, ftp, mail, dns, etc..

This ^^

I feel that this would be an effective way for Linode to expand it's offerings without completely revamping the current business model.

Basically, you could offer a selection of one-off admin tasks, ranging from "install and tune LAMP" to "configure 2 nodes for HA".

Then, you could charge a small recurring fee, similar to the backup service, for service monitoring. So if a customer's mysql server explodes at 3am local, a Linode employee gets the red flag, sends a "We're doing our thing" email to the customer, and pops in to do some basic troubleshooting.

Obviously, you'd have to come up with a rough definition of what constitutes "basic troubleshooting." For instance, while I might not mind a Linode employee fixing my MySQL config by adjusting some variables in the config file, when my apache daemon eats itself, I don't want the person monitoring it to pop on, decide that nginx is much nicer, and swap me over.

So to remain on topic I think it would be a great idea. I see a lot of off topic posts.

I believe one thing to remember is that when you are a managed host everything becomes your problem. If customers application from a to b doesn't work or customer applications just fails in general you tend to get support requests asking you to help or blaming you. If you can stomach that thought I think a managed linode offering would be a great idea for people who need a bit more hand holding and specialized services (firewall/ips/lb/realtime backups/performance tuning/etc.). Certainly there is a lot of money and a lot of growth in this sector but you may want to pass on these requests to separate staff that are more tuned to deal with managed customers.

I hope this helps, pm me if you want more thoughts.

@internet54:

I'd love to see a monitoring service that would alert Linode of any downtime of the main services: httpd, mysql, ftp, mail, dns, etc.
I'd also love to see a Linode monitoring service, although just that is more a pure feature request than a managed service.

As far as managed services go, how about managed mail servers? Setting up, maintaining, and properly securing a mail server isn't trivial so a lot of people opt to outsource mail to another provide like Google. But then you lose a lot of the advantage of running your own. I could see even experienced users willing to pay someone else to handle all that.

I like very much to sysadmin, but for me it's a hobby not my job, so since our business began to grow, we sadly had to leave linode in favour of a managed service.

I really love linode, and still have one for testing purposes, but for me is really cheaper and safer to pay someone for administering my servers than making it by myself.

So for me the most important things are:

  • security updates;

  • hardening;

  • monitoring;

  • backup;

  • possibility to access backups with ftp for downloading / restoring also a single file;

  • control panel (cpanel or plesk);

  • 24x7 support availability ;

I'd also like to have different plans, for example:

  • managed cpanel/plesk (standard and cheap);

  • managed support without control panel;

  • per-accident or per-hour support;

  • optimization support;

  • migration support;

  • prebuilt managed servers (drupal, wordpress, prestashop, etc)

The cost of managed support should be indipendent from the node size (with the exeption of the backup service, obviously).

perhaps these are very basic things, but I think that there is great request for good managed cpanel / plesk hosting.

Well, Nothing matters to me as I think anything will come will be best.

1. Prices will be remain competitive.

2. Servers will remain awesome.

3. Downtime will be still away from Linode's Dictionary!

But, I am newbie and never hosted on any VPS and want to switch but, I have some serious problems.

1. I am not so aware about Linux and Linux Commands,

2. Don't know how to harden Servers,

3. Servers' security is first priority,

4. Server optimization is second one.

I need linode to host my wordpress blog. So 384mb of ram will be enough to start on Managed server (Since it will be well secured and optimized).

You should bring Shared host customers by introducing some cheap managed VPS obviously with small ram and resources. I run a WP blog on shared hosting and my traffic is still growing.

I run a tech blog which need less ram since I do not deliver Videos or other RAM killer app. For me 256MB ram will be sufficient. If i would come in $10 or $15 per month. If my traffic grow and I need more ram and resources than I will easily upgrade my account. I would switch immediately if you have something like in your portfolio. I think you will need some more Data center to handle. :)

Why one will sign up for a $5 or $7 or $10 shared hosting if a $10 or $15 VPS will be available.

One more thing If their is a live technical support, That will be awesome. Just launch paid live support and forget the term "Managed VPS".

It will be very useful for those who wants to learn!!

@anand:

One more thing If their is a live technical support, That will be awesome. Just launch paid live support and forget the term "Managed VPS".

It will be very useful for those who wants to learn!!

There's already live technical support, Linode offers telephone or VoIP support. Talking to another human being is about as live as you can get short of flying to the Linode offices and sitting down next to the tech :P

@anand:

I run a tech blog which need less ram since I do not deliver Videos or other RAM killer app. For me 256MB ram will be sufficient. If i would come in $10 or $15 per month. If my traffic grow and I need more ram and resources than I will easily upgrade my account. I would switch immediately if you have something like in your portfolio. I think you will need some more Data center to handle. :)

Why one will sign up for a $5 or $7 or $10 shared hosting if a $10 or $15 VPS will be available.

linode has stated numerous times that it is not cost effective for them to go below the $20/month plans.

@glg:

linode has stated numerous times that it is not cost effective for them to go below the $20/month plans.

I am new here, This is the reason why I asked so.. My Bad!!

@Guspaz:

There's already live technical support, Linode offers telephone or VoIP support. Talking to another human being is about as live as you can get short of flying to the Linode offices and sitting down next to the tech :P

Will it take any extra cost for that? I am weak in speaking english, probably a support member can't understand me. any option to text based chat.

Last question hare since i am going off topic!

How much I can expect from support? On shared hosting when i get any problem I asked support via Chat to resolve or to get help to resolve the problem.

On linode I am the only person who can make any Good or bad thing to the server. Will chat support help me in configuring out the problem with possible solution. Strengthening the server or server related issues + LAMP customization and optimization.

I have no problem with Wordpress and I am master(May be I am wrong :lol: ) in it.

Linode has an irc channel (http://www.linode.com/irc/) where you can chat with linode and other linoders or you can raise a support ticket from your management area.

Linode is currently unmanaged so support don't have to help you optimize your lamp stack etc they just need to ensure the host/network etc is up and running. However they tend to help if not too busy.

I have no interest in managed service, but I am sure many would. For me, to be honest, it would make Linode somewhat less attractive.

If managed services are implemented, just wait for the aura of these forums to change. Right now, almost everyone here heaps praise on Linode, and for good reason. Upon offering managed services Linode staff will be blamed for all kinds of mischief that are actually user caused.

I'd have to agree with oak. I like Linode just the way it is…

I'm not sure what you mean my 'managed services'. The first thing that comes to mind is that linode would install or configure software within the VM. That seems like a world of hurt, someone can do all sorts of crazy sadistic things to make that be a huge pain in the ass for linode. I don't think it's possible to do other than billing out at the hour.

However, if you me 'managed services' as some additional services linode could offer to make their service more attractive I have some ideas of some services that someone might be interested in, and willing to pay money for. Some are better than others and I'm not sure there's enough users to justify some. But here's a list of possibilities:

1. Mail

This is probably the biggest one to me. I do not want to run mail, and am willing to pay to make that happen. I think linode could offer smtp and a simple web-mail solution that could make things very easy. I would suggest charging per user.

2. Firewall

One of the tasks one most people tackle first node is establishing a firewall. Sure we can use iptables locally on the host, but for those users who don't want to mess with that linode could provide a simple firewalling service.

3. Load Balancer

I'm not at this level yet, but I could see some who might be. They want to load balance between several nodes, and the cool thing is instead of simple DNS round robbin linode could look at things like the node's load average to decide on balancing. Perhaps with this service we could also off load SSL process to the load balancer?

4. Database

I think most people at linode are just running simple web-based application with a database backend such as wordpress or drupal. How cool would it be to use a database maintained my linode on a separate vm. Think how much more oooomph you could get out of each node after off loading the database load

5. Memcache

Not sure if this is really all that awesome, but maybe. linode could run a simple memcache service and hopefully secure it by local IPs. I remember reading someone is trying to provide that service on linode, but it sounded like just some yahoo… not someone you can trust with a client's web-application, but maybe I'm wrong.

6. LDAP

For those who have multiple nodes it would be nice to be able to out-source an LDAP service. Linode could provide a simple web-based interface for managing users, and hopefully it would be able to store ssh-keys in LDAP so I don't have to configure that each time I setup a new instance.

Scott Phillips

One more idea…a managed private network, where basically you can get all of my nodes (on the internal network side) on a private VLAN.

That way I can, say, run my databases without having to worry about anyone else on the internal linode network trying to connect, and without having to worry about hardening my database boxes. Or my memcache box - or whatever.

@gregr:

That way I can, say, run my databases without having to worry about anyone else on the internal linode network trying to connect, and without having to worry about hardening my database boxes. Or my memcache box - or whatever.
Assuming you know private VLANs are already offered here, you could take less than a minute out of your day to provide this managed service to yourself.

@iml:

Assuming you know private VLANs are already offered here, you could take less than a minute out of your day to provide this managed service to yourself.
The private network is data center-wide. Any Linode (with a private IP) can connect to any other Linode (with a private IP) in the same data center over the private network.

Unless a new feature has been offered since, like, last night?

Although this is probably straying off-topic again? Which is kind of its own answer to the question about Linoders wanting "managed services".

@mnordhoff:

@iml:

Assuming you know private VLANs are already offered here, you could take less than a minute out of your day to provide this managed service to yourself.
The private network is data center-wide. Any Linode (with a private IP) can connect to any other Linode (with a private IP) in the same data center over the private network.

Unless a new feature has been offered since, like, last night?

Although this is probably straying off-topic again? Which is kind of its own answer to the question about Linoders wanting "managed services".
Sorry, I was being flippant; too much bourbon. What I meant was this could be easily implemented with a simple firewall rule. In principle I don't really agree with Linode expanding into the "managed services" field, whatever that means. The backup service is enough for me, and even that is essentially a black box and not to be entirely trusted.

To be more constructive, a 'managed' service I would like to see from Linode might be something like anycast DNS to compete with Amazon's weirdo Route 53 service. Or geo-load-balancing? Yeah now I'm the weirdo.

The two main things I want when setting up a server are measuring and monitoring the services and resources running on it.

If someone were to check regularly that my database is caching all the right queries and queries are fast, the web server has a small footprint and is serving pages fast, the load balancers are routing traffic well and so on. Come back with a report and recommendations for tweaks and amends (based on current and expected future traffic). That would be worth paying for, and not something usually done by managed hosting. Currently one gets the "you're server was unresponsive, we rebooted it" message, but you need to hire a full time sysadmin (or do it yourself) in order to look and plan for these situations.

I know of syadmins who could do all these things for me at the drop of a hat, and would be happy for come in 4-5 days a month to do exactly that. But I can't convince the guy with the purse strings that it is worth doing. However, if (like backups) it is somehow part of the hosting cost, that could be a different story.

@iml:

@mnordhoff:

@iml:

Assuming you know private VLANs are already offered here, you could take less than a minute out of your day to provide this managed service to yourself.
The private network is data center-wide. Any Linode (with a private IP) can connect to any other Linode (with a private IP) in the same data center over the private network.

Unless a new feature has been offered since, like, last night?
Sorry, I was being flippant; too much bourbon. What I meant was this could be easily implemented with a simple firewall rule.

There's a difference between a public-ish network with firewall rules and a private VLAN. So I took less than a minute out of my day to point that out to you. :)

@AggieScott:

I

5. Memcache

Not sure if this is really all that awesome, but maybe. linode could run a simple memcache service and hopefully secure it by local IPs. I remember reading someone is trying to provide that service on linode, but it sounded like just some yahoo… not someone you can trust with a client's web-application, but maybe I'm wrong.

JshWright is a far sight from "some yahoo." If I were offering it, on the other hand, you'd have a point.

I think the key here is to make a simple opt-in system to managed services. That way, the hardcore guys can get what they are already getting while also satisfying the noobs at the same time.

I come under the noob category - while I like linode's speed I just can't manage any of the stuff here, quite honestly I think its a miracle that I got my website up to be honest. I have been spending the last couple of months working out how the hell to access my SFTP - I just can't do it! If there is someone on linode that could do that through a managed service then I'm happy - though if its at extra cost I'll have to decline as I can't raise my costs much more as this is a hobby for me.

I like the idea though

@crazyfruitbat:

I think the key here is to make a simple opt-in system to managed services. That way, the hardcore guys can get what they are already getting while also satisfying the noobs at the same time.

This is exactly the idea, for those who may think we plan on switching to completely managed services. Management would be an optional "Extra" you can get if you want/need it. If you don't opt for management, you would have the same current Linode service you know you love.

@crazyfruitbat:

I think the key here is to make a simple opt-in system to managed services. That way, the hardcore guys can get what they are already getting while also satisfying the noobs at the same time.

I come under the noob category - while I like linode's speed I just can't manage any of the stuff here, quite honestly I think its a miracle that I got my website up to be honest. I have been spending the last couple of months working out how the hell to access my SFTP - I just can't do it! If there is someone on linode that could do that through a managed service then I'm happy - though if its at extra cost I'll have to decline as I can't raise my costs much more as this is a hobby for me.

I like the idea though

I agree 100% with this. Also, the idea of helping sites scale, with load-balancing techniques is also great, making our sites have high reability with mirrors and increasing scale performance with multiple linodes or any other techniques the Linode staff knows better.

There are a lot of new customers you could attract with managed hosting. A lot more people need websites and decent hosting than know how to manage a Linux server. Many of them can't even consider Linode because they can't manage a linux server. You would open yourself to a much larger customer base if you started offering managed hosting.

As most of your current customers can manage Linux servers, I don't think many of us would opt for managed, because if we (current customers) wanted managed hosting, we'd be with a different provider.

Management doesn't have to be cheap if it is good. Rackspace is charging about $200/month to add management to their "cloud", which is cheaper than hiring someone, but still expensive. Plenty of people are willing to pay good money for high quality managed services, else corporations wouldn't have IT departments, and those of us who work in IT wouldn't have jobs.

@$200/mo No way. I'm one of the ppl who would actually sign up for managed hosting, but not at that price. Besides, Rackspace is known for being way overpriced.

Linode would be competing more w/ Knownhost's managed VPS. And if they really wanted to carve out a niche, they could provide managed nginx hosting, which is feasible now with the Froxlor control panel (free & open-source). Froxlor + stackscripts to set it up would be hella time & cost efficient for Linode so they could come in at the same or better price than Knownhost VPS. That would sell like hotcakes.

I have had a Linode 512 for a couple years now and love it, for all the reasons everybody else loves Linode. And I recently opened a "managed" account with another host for a new business – I don't have the time to devote to becoming "hard core" enough to be able to do all the things necessary to keep a website up and running -- and secure.

I would prefer hosting my site on a Linode if a package was available that included security, updates, troubleshooting when needed, most of the things others have mentioned here. I seriously considered hosting the new site on a larger Linode but "chickened out" since I believe full-time managing of a server is beyond me at this point. I am sure I could develop the skills but that wouldn't leave me any time to run the business, same old story.

As much as I would like to see this kind of offering, I also wonder if Linode would still be Linode if this kind of a shift were made. My guess is it would be worth a try -- as an old sales manager used to say, right now there may be a lot of change being left on the table with all the people out there wanting to host sites but not having time and / or skill to manage the servers.

Pricing, naturally, is a critical part of the equation. For me, some kind of combination pricing, ongoing vs. "a la carte" setup might work: I'd pay a set amount for ongoing security and whatever it took to keep the server running. (Security was -- is -- the #1 reason why I chose managed vs. unmanaged). But if a "project" came up that required more help -- maybe I'd want to experiment with memcached or Litespeed or something -- I could get an estimate of how much extra that would cost and pay that if I wanted / needed the help. Or if my business grows and I need more capacity but want help setting that up. Lots of possibilities here.

This could help keep the monthly rates reasonable, and would encourage users to be as self-sufficient as possible while still having access to highly skilled help when needed. It might also help keep Linode's atmosphere as a place for the enthusiasts and hard-core types, while opening it up to more newcomers.

My "managed" account is ok, no major issues so far. But it isn't Linode by a long shot. Linode has spoiled me. Being able to host a "live" website without having to become a full-time sysadmin, while still having the benefits of Linode, would be the best of both worlds. The hope, of course, is that both of those worlds can in fact coexist! I think it would be worth a try.

So I vote "yes." Somewhat qualified, but definitely a yes.

I just hope their managed service will include a daily continental breakfast - because that would be really helpful and way cool.

hear hear mclinn. I second everything you said. And I might add, if Linode would like a couple beta testers for this managed service, I'll offer myself and I'd bet mclinn would be up for it too. ;)

lol vonskippy, with fresh OJ please.

I would be up for beta testing, sure!

And the breakfast is a great idea as long as the coffee is hot and fresh.

The competition will never know what hit 'em …

@gregr:

There's a difference between a public-ish network with firewall rules and a private VLAN. So I took less than a minute out of my day to point that out to you. :)

A combination of OpenVPN for encryption and security, and firewall rules for access control should provide a far more powerful and flexible solution than VLANs while also being sufficiently secure. It's extra work, true, but VLANs have their own problems (like preventing me from accessing public services through the private network).

The idea of service monitoring -> automatic ticket is very interesting to me.

Many people on here run nearly mission-critical systems: websites, VoIP servers, etc. I am not and cannot be available 24/7 to deal with issue.

Most of the time my HA setup handles problem, but some sort of 24/7 ability to automatically troubleshoot issues would definitely be worth considering.

I'm not even live with anything on my linode yet, but I can see the value in having a service where someone familiar with my setup would apply security updates while I'm on vacation and monitor to make sure that nothing is running out of control.

I would like a managed HA setup across multiple datacenters with monitoring and backups.

It could be DB HA or HTTP HA or both combined. etc.

@jzimmerlin:

I'd have to agree with oak. I like Linode just the way it is…

I agree with oak too.

I have referred two customers to Linode who previously had managed sites elsewhere and after the initial week or two of learning they're much happier with an unmanaged service.

Not wanting to tell you your job, but never understimate the difficulty in managing things for people.. Odds are, if a customer needs it managed, they're not educated enough to tell you what they really want, they only think they are.. and then you end up delivering what they asked for rather than what they had in their head but didn't communicate it to you.. and the costs involved in all that.

I also like the fact that Linode support guys are on the ball and talk at my level, all too often I've seen support departments balloon in size and before you know it you're talking to a guy who doesn't know what RAM is and is there just to take your call and put your query into a queue for you.

@exiges:

before you know it you're talking to a guy who doesn't know what RAM is and is there just to take your call and put your query into a queue for you.

I use to work for a company like that, the first line support was pretty awful, sad thing is they used to support the people that built planes…nuclear submarines etc..

It would be nice if they gave specific information on what exactly linode wants to offer for managed services, ie;

Disk space? Email Space/Users? Bandwidth? Price points? Control Panel? Etc.

I agree with a previous comment completely, once you get into managed services. Expect to get alot of people who have no clue on what a domain name, nameserver, or control panel is.

I work at a company that gives support 24/7 for users like this, and trust me, the tech support is atrocious with users that are really dumb, and cannot understand basic things like the difference between a domain name, web hosting package, or how to do basic things, like renewing a domain name.

There's money to be had in that sector, but it's true at the same time that managed services would be a totally different level of service than what you have right now. (Which is VPS hosting.)

I'm not at all sure I trust that you are a Linode staff.

I already have said on the SliceHost email forum about them being bought out by Rackspace that I would not permit Linode.com to be bought out by any organization.

I then sent an email to [email protected], requesting that Chriss himself step in or something to assure us customers that Linode indeed is not giong to die.

With Rackspace aquiring SliceHost, I don't much like the future of VPS hosting.

What if Linode was bought?

The accessibility for those with visual impairments such as myself would be scrapt, and everything Linode is going twoards, is useless in such a case.

What about Linodes Birthday coming up here in June?

I don't think you are a staff.

Sorry.

I think Chris or another real staff needs to step in and just tel us who you really are.

Any of use could go around putting "Linode.com staff." in our communications here on the forums, to fool people into thinking that we are all working for LInode.com.

I don't think youare.

The only Smith working at Linode is Jed, so forgive me if you are fake or something.

God Bless, take care everyone!

Keith, not just anyone can set their forum status thingy to "Linode.com Staff", and pparadis already confirmed that csmith is real in the first page of this thread.

Edit: Also, the future of VPS hosting excites me! Linode is continuing to grow, and while what happened to Slicehost is unfortunate, there are half a dozen other good new companies growing up in its place.

Edit: Copy-editing.

@Keith-BlindUser:

With Rackspace aquiring SliceHost, I don't much like the future of VPS hosting.

RackSpace acquired SliceHost years ago…

What's wrong with booting off network storage?

Maybe I don't understand how network storage works. But why would one not boot off of it?

I assume, so please correct me as I'm not an exbert on this, but isn't network storage just simply a hard-drive that's somehow online? If so, how should that work differently from a local drive in some server vps or otherwise?

Typically, in a VPS environment, it would be a SAN. A big storage array plugged into the network that is essentially doing nothing but hosting a bunch of disk images. The client computers connect using iSCSI, which carries SCSI commands over IP. Once you get past the driver in the kernel, I believe that an iSCSI volume should appear identical to a regular SCSI volume.

There are advantages and disadvantages to such a setup. Usually, performance is a disadvantage. There's overhead routing everything over a network (even if you have dedicated NICs), and added latency. There is also typically more contention, since there are a larger number of users sharing the disks. But there are advantages when it comes to cost and expandability (it's easier to expand your SAN infrastructure and resize a virtual disk than it is to replace the drives in all the computers). It also enables live migrations, where a Xen virtual guest can be moved to a different physical host without being turned off; the live system is migrated to another computer with only a few milliseconds of downtime when the switchover itself is made.

Personally, I'd be in favour of a hybrid approach, where the primary storage is local, and affordable additional storage is available on a SAN, or even just storage linodes that use bigger cheaper slower disks with limited resources, intended just to act as a file server over the private network. But I'm already way off-topic here…

I'll just quickly state my opinion.

BTW, sorry about my previous thread.

Someone helped me on IRC last night get the situation cleared up.

I was primarily confused; believing that Caker was going to perhaps take out Linode's entire core fucntionality, so I apologize for that crazy thread, sorry for lashing out unattendingly at anyone.

But what I think that could be kind of cool would be to have folks who are good at managing Apache configurations or Nginx configurations for those who might quickly want a web server up and online.

Then as someone else suggested monitor those services.

Of course, for us experienced folks who like control to run our own server we can do what we want-with no monitoring.

I now understand that Linode won't be forcing this on anyone per say.

I do have one questiont aht I think Chris, or another member of Linode staff may be able to help me with though.

Does Caker here or anyone else working for Linode.com know if the managed service will increase the price point of Linode's current unmanaged services on a monthly cost?

The $19.95 is about all most of my blind firneds concidering a Linod ein it's unmanaged current form can aford, and I believe they're intending to sign up in June.

Just thought I'd ask if anyone officially from Linode.com itself could comment on that reqlly qquickly.

But I do like the idea Chris; keep up the good work please with your services as you always have, and I suppose for the less techncial, unmanaged would actually not be as bad as I primarily feared it omight be; since for one horrible thought I was thinking well..allkinds of crazy possibilities.

Thanks , and God Bless.

I'm late to this forum, and late jumping ship from Slicehost!

I can only speak for myself.

I love being able to manage my Linode. I have a background in graphic design, it's fun learning - and I like control of my web.

Things I would pay for are

  • Security Updates. IP Tables.

  • Ubuntu LTS upgrade, eg when apt-update no longer works for me.

  • Fee for service when there is something clearly outside my realm. (eg Posfix routing, and funnelling bounces to my SaaS app!)

I prefer ad/hoc fee for service.

That said, I would be happy to pay a surcharge on my Linode monthly if it allowed for an ad/hoc service rate.

This is a good idea. The Rackspace model is failing as they want cloud dominance.

From what I can tell Linode remains highly focused.

Hello,

The first thing I would like to know it what kind of managed service are we talking about?

Do we need to have a control panel to have a managed service?

Will you give us managed service with a custom setup?

Managed service will give Linode an new niche that they can reach now and in a business perspective this is a goo move.

I would like to see something different like monitoring or custom intervention, but I don't mind having managed service as long has you just continue with the good service you provide.

Keith- since you missed it, pparadis verified on the first page csmith is a staff member. Lets read before we toss out accusations

@pparadis:

He is a member of Linode staff, and his forums account will be updated to reflect this.

@Praefectus:

Lets read before we toss out accusations

And let's not be an idiot; he can't read, per his username he's blind. He uses a screen reader, and somethings he misses some stuff. Cut him some slack.

EDIT: Or learn to read yourself, since mnordhoff corrected Keith already last week.

Exactly. I had already received a correction, and at one point I did get around to noticing that he was a Linode staff member compared to what I thought previously. :)

Thanks.

Who wants to bet since Linode's birthday is coming up that maybe part of that will include the announcement of managed services in addition to what they offer?

I wonder if the self-managed plans that already exist will receive any upgrades this year? :)

Last year was RAM upgrades. Maybe this year diskspace?

Anyhow that's kind of geting off-topic, but that will be cool to see.

I think their should be two options

1. Fully-Managed

2. Semi-Managed

I've got two different web servers hosted with y'all and need http monitored and server rebooted / issue troubleshooting done.

I'm currently planning to migrate way from linode but after seeing this thread I'm jumping for joy!

When are y'all going to offer a service / port monitoring service / auto reboot option? I'm ready right now and am wiling to pay!

Thanks

@kutu:

When are y'all going to offer a service / port monitoring service / auto reboot option? I'm ready right now and am wiling to pay!

Thanks

I don't understand what the auto-reboot option is…why is this different to Lassie?

Lassie reboots if your SERVER shuts down unexpectedly..

But what if you run apache? or SQL? and that service and or port becomes unresponsive? Many companies offer monitoring of these ports so if they go down the hosting company will reboot server and make repairs if the logs indicate an issue.

@Mr Nod:

@kutu:

When are y'all going to offer a service / port monitoring service / auto reboot option? I'm ready right now and am wiling to pay!

Thanks

I don't understand what the auto-reboot option is…why is this different to Lassie?

@kutu:

Lassie reboots if your SERVER shuts down unexpectedly..

But what if you run apache? or SQL?

monit will reboot your daemon if you tell him to do.

I'lll give that a try.. once every month or two the servers (both of them) will "lock up" and http and ssh are all inaccessible, perhaps this will still work in an event like this.. worth a try, thank you for the tip! can't figure out why the lock ups take place. I can't find anything I can decipher in the logs (im no guru) but the IO does show large spikes during these events.

@nfn:

@kutu:

Lassie reboots if your SERVER shuts down unexpectedly..

But what if you run apache? or SQL?

monit will reboot your daemon if you tell him to do.

Would you mind explaining what your running specs wise on the Linode?

What plan, etc?

(Though I suggest private messaging me) sicne this isn't exactly on topic, but perhaps I can help?

I have never ever ran a Linode and had it ver "lock up" where http, ssh and so on become inaccessible.

Perhaps it might be a kernel related issue?

Feel free to message me directly here on the forum for help if you want.

I find that interesting.

If I can help just let me know.

And of course, if I can't, you always have Linode support and others as well!

Thanks. :)

@Mr Nod:

I don't understand what the auto-reboot option is…why is this different to Lassie? Maybe that is the point, and there lies the opportunity for additional Linode services.

I want to buy domain(s) via Linode.com. I trust this company much more than russian registrars (I'm from russia).

@OZ:

I want to buy domain(s) via Linode.com. I trust this company much more than russian registrars (I'm from russia).

This is off topic in this thread, open a new thread if you have further questions/issues.

But Linode is not a registrar, they are a VPS host. You can buy your domain from any registrar (I use namecheap.com) and then you buy a VPS from Linode that you can point your domain at.

I'm not sure it really makes sense for linode to get into a low margin business like registration. Theres plenty of good ones around already, and it's not exactly difficult to just set the nameservers to linode and be done with it.

@akerl:

This is off topic in this thread, open a new thread if you have further questions/issues.
Are you moderator to tell me what to do?

Linode.com could be reseller of registrars. I think it's not so hard to do, and will be much more convenient for customers.

In usual way I have to:

1) Choose domain registrar company, by reading hundreds of customers opinions.

2) Register new domain.

3) Write necessary records for domain (not for all users this step is trivial: example).

4) Set reverse DNS record in dashboard of Linode.com

If Linode.com will integrate this feature into dashboard, it will just 2 quick steps:

1) Register domain.

2) Write necessary records for domain.

Ok it's been days since we've had a suggestion in here. :-)

I think it would be nice to have a checkbox somewhere that said "connect all of my private IPs to the same network" and linode did whatever magic they had to behind the scenes to make that happen, even across data centers.

Or, better, have an optional second private network that does the above, keeping the existing private network for single-data-center communications.

@gregr:

I think it would be nice to have a checkbox somewhere that said "connect all of my private IPs to the same network" and linode did whatever magic they had to behind the scenes to make that happen, even across data centers.

But… That's already what private IPs do, except for the "across data centers" part. If you had multiple linodes in the same DC, that checkbox wouldn't do anything…

It sounds like what you're asking for is free transfer between Linode datacenters.

@Guspaz:

@gregr:

I think it would be nice to have a checkbox somewhere that said "connect all of my private IPs to the same network" and linode did whatever magic they had to behind the scenes to make that happen, even across data centers.

But… That's already what private IPs do, except for the "across data centers" part. If you had multiple linodes in the same DC, that checkbox wouldn't do anything…

It sounds like what you're asking for is free transfer between Linode datacenters.

I should have been more clear…I already use the private IPs within a single data center. What I'd like is seamless, secure, private communications between multiple data centers.

It doesn't have to be free - I would expect to pay for bandwidth (or have it come out of my pool), perhaps plus a setup charge or monthly charge or something for maintaining the connection.

Just offer support.

If we run into any trouble, or if we don't know to follow a documentation to install something, you could just, set it up for us.

for a cost, like per hour or per issue, just a suggestion

Now this is exactly what we need! If you can offer some managed service which can setup do all the initial configurations, install a server (Apache/nginx), secure the server and prepare it for the final deployment…. That will be really great! Actually, there are some people who don't need any continued server management… So, if you can give only the initial setup, then it will help us a lot!

@caker:

While we love hearing feature requests of all kinds, I'd appreciate it if you could keep them in the feature request category and keep this thread on the topic of the proposed managed service.

I know many of the forum regulars here are experienced Linux admins and are independent and may not see the need, but I believe there is demand for managed services. People probably do not want to be on call 24h/day to monitor their servers, services and apps, or learn the intricacies configuring and tuning services, or just worry about things in general. We want to worry for you. So I guess the question is: what types of things could some smart admins help you with?

-Chris

I do worry and it's only a worry that came up after going from linode-for-fun customer to redoing my whole hosting gig & changing my model to use linode.

I didn't mind so much having to reboot to add a new IP for a new ecommerce customer who needs an SSL certificate. That was before my linode took half an hour or so to reboot.

The only support I can get on it is suggestions that may help but also involve far more down time than anyone would consider tolerable. I try to limit reboots to late at night… doesn't help. Still have people flip out on me.

The suggestions I got weren't promising, I find it hard to believe there isn't someone who knows linodes well enough to figure out what's really going on, I can't be risking my own sites & shared clients while I'm trying to establish a good reputation, on a hunch, for a problem that shouldn't be causable by anything I've done.

I'd like to have some kind of 'managed service' for stuff that's over my head or critical or could be made better sense of from the physical side or all of the above. I'd definitely pay to have an issue escalated to a "take it off my hands, make it right & don't screw my customers" level.

The need would/does arise very rarely. There isn't much budget for such a thing on a monthly basis. So an as needed system would probably be preferable.

I do like what you're saying and I can tell you I could really use some worry relief right now. :-(

I'm not a customer yet, but considering it. I would like to add my 2 cents. I'm new at all this and have a small business and I would find a managed solution very useful. Linode looks pretty decent, but to use it I need to find a stable, reliable, cost-effective company that can manage my site/database for me on Linode.

Here are a few classics and my biggest headaches. I'll have to put up with them privately, but as a business I would rather see them in professional hands.

(1) managed database service. Clustered, per data center, connected through a private network and dedicated IF to your hosted customers signing up. Your service comes from creating and running the DB instances, managing space, monitoring performance, doing backups, providing optimization tips, etc. Offer MySQL and maybe Oracle.

(2) managed e-mail service. Run the mail servers (SMTP), provide IMAP mailboxes, storage quotas, implement virus and spam filters, do backups and offer web mail access (ad-free, of course). Find a way to provide good privacy.

(3) Secure file exchange platform, perhaps sharepoint-like, charged by storage, linkable to your hosting customers servers with iSCSI or similar. Privacy, same as above.

I think it would be great if there are managed services run the Linode way: extremly reliable, no-nonsense, with a stable cost that allows for longterm planning. You could leverage the trust you built with the rocksolid hosting service.

Greetings,

Frank

Here is a possible design.

Linode customer posts works to be done. example: "set up https://whatever.com using apache2 already installed on linode xyz and a low-assurance commode SSL certificate to be procured by linode for the customer"

Someone at Linode clarifies and prices these with a buy-it-now style offer and agrees on a automated "test" that will indicate that the work is complete. This person needs to be tasked for clearing roadblocks and rewarded for generating

a profitable volume of tasks keeping everyone busy and happy.

Roadblocks are things like "you have to do that yourself because SSL is about verifying the company's identity" or "it is easy to do just follow the instructions at the commode certificate website". The first is solvable by handing passwords or credentials back and forth and the second, while nice hand holding for a hobbyist, misses a potential sale for Linode and convenience for the customer.

If the customer accepts the price, then the work gets done. The customer never receives work that doesn't pass the automated test. Ideally the customer gets satisfaction, but in the event of a dispute the "test" can be employed.

If the customer doesn't like the price, he can enter a counteroffer, which might or might not get acted upon.

If the request doesn't become a deal within XX days, add an option for the work to go to a bulletin board of linode-member 3rd party providers. These could be star ranked for completed transactions or satisfaction or whatever. Yes this is similar to eLance or a dozen other sites, but I'd rather trust work to someone who uses linodes and is screened a little bit than some random provider on eLance.

I'm currently a VPS.net customer looking to migrate. One of the things that I like about VPS.net is its support infrastructure. Linode would do well to offer something similar.

At the low end, something like support tickets would be useful. VPS.net offers single issue support for $10 per ticket.

A more moderate managed offering would be node that is fully managed by Linode. At VPS.net you can have a node fully managed for $99 per month with a $45 setup fee. This includes:

The next step would be a generic manged node for simple website services. This would be different from the previous "managed" offering in that this service would be preconfigured with Linode's choice of OS and apps and have preset configurations as a generic web server. This would be similar to VPS.net's "Cloud Hosting".

What I would be most interested in, however, is "Platform as a Service" offerings on Linode similar to dotCloud. IMHO, this is the ultimate in managed offerings. To be able to take different managed pieces, e.g. a python node and a postgresql node and patch them together to build, at a macro level, the infrastructure the developer needs to run their preferred site – without having to worry about redundancy, scaling, backups, security, memory limits, storage space, etc. It just works. Beautiful. Or at least that's the idea.

I'm currently wavering between moving to dotCloud vs. moving to Linode. The downside to dotCloud is that it's based on Amazon AWS. What I would really like to see is dotCloud based on Linode. Then, the choice would be clear.

While I think I understand what you mean, I'd caution that Linode does offer free "support tickets" (but not managed support), with response times dramatically lower than the vast majority of hosts out there. So, careful with the wording on that.

@Guspaz:

While I think I understand what you mean, I'd caution that Linode does offer free "support tickets" (but not managed support), with response times dramatically lower than the vast majority of hosts out there. So, careful with the wording on that.

Yeah! I just love linode support. It's great! No one can blame that

@Guspaz:

While I think I understand what you mean, I'd caution that Linode does offer free "support tickets" (but not managed support), with response times dramatically lower than the vast majority of hosts out there. So, careful with the wording on that.

Awesome! I'm currently only a wannabe Linode user, so I'm not completely familiar with how Linode works.

I'm curious about those free support tickets. I presume that those are for Linode's services. For example if there is a problem with a Linode service, a support ticket may be entered. I also presume that if support determines that this is a problem with the user's personal configuration, and not with Linode's services, then the user is on their own to resolve the issue. Correct me if I'm wrong here.

VPS offers those same free support tickets for VPS services. However, VPS also offers a paid, $10 per issue, support option for ANY issue whether related to VPS services directly or not.

Providing managed services in this way (support tickets) would provide the user some granular control over the extent of services requested and paid for . . . unless this is already provided for free by Linode.

If it's a user config problem then they tend to point you to the forums where help is given my the community pretty quickly.

Yeah, it's still unmanaged support, so the official line is that a support ticket is for service changes, or problems with the underlying service, that sort of thing. I just wanted to clarify that, they don't offer managed support tickets, but that does't mean they don't have support tickets.

In reality, Linode staff usually are willing to offer advice that goes beyond their obligations, but you obviously can't count on that, so the forums are the fallback for that sort of stuff.

I don't understood.

Do you want to offer both managed and unmanaged services or do you want to completely switch to managed services?

The managed services would be optional and paid. If you didn't purchase a managed service, your Linode would be unmanaged, so both.

I think you should offer a comprehensive managed solution - sysadmin and database admin. I've been trying to find good sysadmins who know how to use linode with a debian distro and who can set up a HA and failover setup and no one seems to be able to do it for less than $500/mo. Seems like a good way to distinguish yourselves from all other VPS hosts if you can do it at the right price and also offer fantastic support. I would be willing to pay somewhere around $300/mo for this (assuming I need about 4 servers to get the setup I want).

We actually currently offer managed hosting solutions, from shared to full clusters, based on Linode (I think we have around 30 with you) and EC2. So there certainly is a need.

On the other hand: one of the reasons we chose Linode is because they are focused only on one thing only: providing excellent quality VPS's with good service. As we are focused also on one thing: providing excellent managed hosting and service. We don't want to manage the cloud.

Expanding into managed services would make it more difficult for us to propose Linode to our customers because it would effectively become a competitor.

But still: you guys rock and we hope whatever the future brings will be compatible with our offering.

ps: currently we only offer our services in Belgium, but are launching our English site soon to attract international customers. You'll find Linode already on the page http://ilibris.be/webhosting/privatehosting/

Regards,

Frederik.

http://ilibris.be

@caker:

While we love hearing feature requests of all kinds, I'd appreciate it if you could keep them in the feature request category and keep this thread on the topic of the proposed managed service.

Breaking news: Linode Community goes off on a tangent, observers shocked (shocked!) :-)

As someone who provides a few managed services for folks with Linodes, here's where I think the biggest needs are:

  • Package updates. Doing the apt-get update / apt-get upgrade tango when required (preferably during off-peak times) is pretty easy to do en masse, but difficult to remember to do.

  • The next steps beyond the LAMP stackscript. There's no small number of folks who recognize the power of a VPS versus shared hosting, but don't really go beyond hosting a few Drupal or WordPress sites. Adding sites to DNS and /etc/apache2/sites-/ and perhaps untarring/setupping Drupal or WordPress are, again, pretty easy for people who do this all the time, but my clients prefer to e-mail me to do it rather than fighting with it themselves. This is smart, IMHO, because they can do what they are good at and make the benjammies instead of losing a few billable hours trying to save my billable 15 minutes.

There MUST be limits to scope, of course. But there's a huge number of customers who would fit within this scope. Who needs cPanel when you can e-mail someone to do what cPanel does?

@mnordhoff:

It apparently makes sense to some people, since they do it. One advantage is live migration of VMs between hosts. I imagine it also makes storage provisioning more flexible.

It does make it considerably more difficult to build high-availability systems, since you need to ensure "both halves" rely on different, independent SANs.

Live migration is a reboot-avoidance technique, not a high-availability technique.

It does indeed make storage provisioning more flexible, and often works out to be less expensive per GB (since you can get reasonable performance with slower disks, and can afford a higher failure rate).

I fully agree with you. Better get our English pages online asap!

In the meantime, Linode is taking baby steps it seems:

http://forum.linode.com/viewtopic.php?t=8349

Still in a reactive, on-request style consulting. Not the same as our full lifecycle approach.

@hoopycat:

I, for one, am content to let the Belgians corner this market. We did kinda steal the Belgian beer style.

You stole our Belgian beer style? How did you do that?

@akerl:

@OZ:

I want to buy domain(s) via Linode.com. I trust this company much more than russian registrars (I'm from russia).

This is off topic in this thread

I took it to mean he wants Linode to be a registrar.

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