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  1. #1
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    Bare Bones Reseller experiment

    We run a bunch of dedicated servers but have a reseller account as an alternative email port and for employees to who want to run personal sites.

    So we decided to take a flyer on a bare bones, priced too good to believe outfit based in Italy (Client-Arena.net) that runs a server based in Texas.

    We're paying something like US$128 for 27 months of 120G hard drive space, 2,000G of bandwidth, CPanel/WHM, overselling and no limits on the number of domains hosted. The down side is that backups to a second drive on the server is not supported.

    Our logic is that under $5 per month is a trivial expense. If these guys overload the server or otherwise screw up, the loss is less than a good meal at a big city restaurant.

    Client-Arenaís support is willing and good natured but English isn't their first language.

    Now before a whole bunch of my sage fellow WHTers quite properly gang tackle me with the economics of this. Take a look at your cell phone. Do you use all its features? Mine will do Fourier calculations but I havenít taken advantage of it. The big question is how many folks like me will buy excess capacity just for the security of knowing itís there if I need it?

    In a funny sort of way Client-Arenaís odd refusal to offer backups really excludes the wanna be hosting reseller who will push the capacity of their account. You need to be savvy enough to be able to FTP up clean sites if something goes wrong and take care of your own backing up. Perhaps their marketing strategy will attract a different crowd (hopefully not a collection of spammers and other unsavory sorts).

    Anyway, itís a noble experiment. Stay tuned for my cries of anguish or gloating <g>

    Cheers,

    Aza D. Oberman

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImageLogic View Post
    Now before a whole bunch of my sage fellow WHTers quite properly gang tackle me with the economics of this. Take a look at your cell phone. Do you use all its features? Mine will do Fourier calculations but I havenít taken advantage of it. The big question is how many folks like me will buy excess capacity just for the security of knowing itís there if I need it?
    If you want to look at this way, fine. I bought my phone because I needed a specific feature it offered that no other phone did. Sure it offers features much more than I frequently use and some that I still do not know it is capable of. But my primary reason for purchase was that I needed something which only it and only it offered.

    I did not plunk down $1000 for the "security" of knowing its there.

    That was my approach to it.

  3. #3
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    Fair point.

    But there is a noticable difference between US$4.70/mo or even twice that (assuming they fail in a year)and $1,000. <That's not intended to be a snarky putdown, I'm just trying to say there isn't much one can get for $5/mo. so there is a very low perceived risk.>

    Perhaps I was a bit cavalier with the notion of "excess" capacity. At least in our business (avonics) resource requirements tend to surge and wane. When a project is in a design phase there is an awful lot of FTP traffic as CAD/CAM files get shuffled around. Then there is a profound lull until final testing videos get handed around.

    Given the way bandwidth for dedicated servers is sold (by maximum bps available whether used or not) it's handy to have some additional capacity on a shared server for when an unexpected surge hits -- because there bandwidth is sold by the total per bits month.

    My half baked hypothesis is that Client-Arena may be going after a niche market of sparse bandwidth users wanting to take advantage of the probability that not everyone on the shared server is going to have a crunch at the same time.

    But you are right to imply that I need a better word than "excess."

    Regards,

    Aza

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImageLogic View Post
    Perhaps I was a bit cavalier with the notion of "excess" capacity. At least in our business (avonics) resource requirements tend to surge and wane. When a project is in a design phase there is an awful lot of FTP traffic as CAD/CAM files get shuffled around. Then there is a profound lull until final testing videos get handed around.
    If you are worried about surges and then a long lull with no activity (wastage of resources), try cloud computing.

    The current market sells cloud instants on an hourly rate. You can purchase bandwidth, memory, processing and disk space by the hour, in the quantities you need. You could save you a lot of $$ during the lulls and still have the resources you need to stay online during the busy surges.

  5. #5
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    I must confess I really haven't got a good handle on how to compare pricing between cloud computing and an option like this reseller account.

    I ran some rather wobbly numbers a while ago and wasn't impressed. Can you suggest a resource that genuinely explains cloud computing so a mere purchasing wonk can understand how the pricing works?

    BTW, one thing we discovered is that when employees or their families have their sites on a company "server" they have a much more proprietary attitude. That's a lot of "bang" for a miserable US$5 a month.

    Regards,

    Aza

  6. #6
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    You wont find a cloud instance anywhere close to $5 like the reseller account. Normally, they average at $50 a month. I suggested the cloud instance for your company's problem to deal with surges, that is all.

    When you use a dedicated server, say you pay $1000/m to handle traffic during surges. Obviously you are under a contract that prevents you from downgrading to a low-end machine to serve during your lows. You're now paying $1000/m when you could be paying only $200/m. With a cloud instance, you can upgrade and downgrade every other hour, if need be.

    Companies like Amazon that have a public API can allow you to write an application that monitor's your server's usage and automatically scale your cloud instance to serve a higher amount of traffic -- you can be asleep during that time.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImageLogic View Post
    We're paying something like US$128 for 27 months of 120G hard drive space, 2,000G of bandwidth, CPanel/WHM, overselling and no limits on the number of domains hosted. The down side is that backups to a second drive on the server is not supported.
    Sounds like a pretty good deal, hope it works out well but either way I'm sure you will let us know.

    Taking backups is pretty easy to do so I don't see that as a downside, just takes time, only thing I see as a downside is the possible language barrier since you both don't have the same first language.

    Good Luck

  8. #8
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    I guess the real question you should be asking your-self is, are you actually getting 120GB of diskspace? If this is a regular shared/reseller account (non dedicated server), then the answer is probably no. Many people sign-up for such packages that are oversold (example unlimited packages), because they want to feel like they will have the space available (incase they need it). Unfortunately, companies are aware of this and use overselling as a marketing gimmick to lure in customers like your-self.

    In closing, if you are happy with your current service, great. Just keep in mind that the resources the company is claiming to offer you, are probably not going to be available for you to use (incase you ever need them).
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  9. #9
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    Well, Client-Arena is a big disappointment over the longer haul (we started 8/22/2011 – today is 12/12/2011).

    At first we had the expected shake-down problems. Client-Arena resolved the problems to our satisfaction during the first two weeks. The support was cheerful although the English/Italian language barrier did slow down communication.

    Once we got the server sorted out the reseller account ran fairly well. The Client-Arena hosting server seemed to go down on the average of once every three or four days. The saving grace was that each outage was typically for less than an hour. In our opinion Client-Arena was delivering a marginally acceptable reseller account for non-critical sites that could be easily restored by the user.

    We figured the Client-Arena reseller account would be good enough for non-critical in-house applications like previewing web site designs, a few safety email addresses, and as a target for our dedicated server status messages. So we prepaid for two years.

    About a week ago even that barely acceptable service disintegrated. Everything went off line. Even Client-Arena's own site went off-line.

    When Client-Arena reemerged the DNS server IP address had been changed and a provincial trouble ticketing system that does not pass W3C compatibility testing "installed."

    We received no notice of the DNS IP address change. Perhaps Client-Arena changed the address before sending out the notice -- in effect turning off communications before attempting to send the notification.

    For some odd reason the "new" Trouble Ticket system was written to work only in HTML5 -- go figure. The main page renders as a blank page on non-HTML5 browsers. That’s a bit of a bummer for those of us following the corporate strategy of using old machines as sacrificial Internet portals.

    Needless to say, our reseller account went totally off-line for at least two days. And it's been nearly a week and they still haven't been able to restore SMTP service. Part of the problem is that they are insisting their server is working properly -- although the same computer on which we can’t access Client-Arena SMTP services has no problems accessing similar SMTP services on at least three of our other remote servers.

    After wrestling our way into their quirky trouble ticketing scheme it is taking days to get a response. Some of the responses are pure gibberish and mystifyingly arrogant.

    Another odd thing is that Client-Arena’s shared server is configured so the sibling directories of public_html are inaccessible to the site's SSI scripts. We're stuck putting things like our custom Perl or PHP libraries in the public_html directory -- a seemingly unnecessary vulnerability for a production server.

    At the moment the only thing Client-Arena seems to have going for itself is the price -- unfortunately there is nothing in the way of uptime performance and technical support that makes the Client-Arena service even remotely useful for an Internet presence.

    More if it changes,

    Aza D. Oberman
    Last edited by ImageLogic; 12-12-2011 at 05:25 PM. Reason: dropped a word

  10. #10
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    Client-Arena just announced that because we complained they would close our access to SMTP port 2500 and force us to use port 25.

    Client-Arena knows full well that major ISPs like Verizon and many hotels block port 25 in the United States.

    I had to laugh because Client-Arena seemed so insulted that they could not get port 2500 working again and that their Trouble Ticketing system renders as a blank page on anything but a HTML5 browser, that they were punishing the messenger (and customer) by deliberately closing the port they could not open.

    What is a more serious ethical breach of trust is that Client-Arena also refused to return the balance of the service we'd purchased when SMTP port 2500 was working. Effectively, they are taking nearly two years worth of payment without providing a useable service.

    We’re still trying to resolve this, but WHT readers may want to consider our misadventures when making their purchase decision.

    More as it happens…

    Aza D. Oberman

  11. #11
    Hello,
    What you say is ridiculous makes me laugh ..
    You'll never have port 2500 open as long as the client will be with us.
    1) are not required to open a specific port for each client
    2) does not oblige anyone to buy from us.
    3) Problems are discussed through mail or ticket system.
    4) YOU singuru customer in 2200 that states that did not go your system's Tickets.

  12. #12
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    Nuff said fellow WHTers, the thread speaks for itself.

    Client-Arena has had days to restore our SMTP port 2500 access. Long before the matter boiled over onto WHT there have been any number of trouble tickets on this matter.

    Perhaps Client-Arena doesn't know how to manage their server, or perhaps they figure they've been paid so why bother, or they are just plain mean spirited. I simply don't know and the reason doesn't change the fact that they deliberately, and admittedly, removed a feature *after* getting a multi-year purchase.

    In any event, prospective Client-Arena customers can read this thread to get a pretty good idea what kind of service to expect from Client-Arena.

    Sadly, I was a fool to have trusted Client-Arena -- but I said I'd keep my fellow WHTers updated and now you can judge for yourself.

    Regards,

    Aza D. Oberman

  13. #13
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    Client Arena mail server is still down

    It's a new year and still ClientArena can't get it's email working again.

    The entire server died without notice (It appears they moved the server) for a couple of days and once we got the new IP from Client Arena they refused to reinstall an alternate SMTP port.

    The nasty thing is that this occurred less than 120 days after we prepayed for two years of a reseller account. Naturally, they refuse to refund the unused balance.

    More as it happens.

    Aza D. Oberman

  14. #14
    As you write and the TOS .. get refund only in the first 15 days.
    It is pointless talking about, because we will not you open that port (26).

  15. #15
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    Judge for yourself

    Quote Originally Posted by madh0st View Post
    As you write and the TOS .. get refund only in the first 15 days.
    It is pointless talking about, because we will not you open that port (26).
    This is the sort of response we've been geting from ClientArena when their ticketing system works.

    After using ClientArena's service on a monthly basis we decided to commit and buy two years (see my earlier posting in this thread). At the time the frequency of down time or poor server response was sort of high; but, the rest worked acceptably for inexpensively handling in-house accounts.

    When we made the decision to purchase two years of reseller services, Client Arena was already supplying us with an alternate SMTP service not on port 25 -- those of you who attempt to access an email server from hotels or certain ISPs understand that this is necessary because port 25 is often blocked.

    Once we'd paid for two years of service our accounts became unavailable for a few *days* and now ClientArena refuses to either turn an alternate SMTP port back on or to refund the unused balance.

    In short; once they got paid, Client Arena stopped delivering a critical service we'd been receiving. Client Arena doesn't even deny it.

    Judge for yourself if, under these circumstances, you would like to get the unsigned response we just got.

    Regards,

    Aza D. Oberman

    BTW, we engaged another shared hosting reseller account with another vendor. It's like a breath of fresh air after this experiment gone bad.

  16. #16
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    Speed Web Solutions LLC "acquires" ClientArena

    On February 6, 2012, we got an email from SpeedWebSolutions.Org saying in part:

    "We are pleased to present some interesting news. Client-Arena.Net was bought by SpeedWebSolutions.Org and all its activities and SpeedWebSolutions.Org 02.06.2012 will continue to operate as a separate brand under parent SpeedWebSolutions.Org. For you, the customer, this means a lot of great things, including service improvements, guaranteed response times, and much more. Please take a moment of precious time to read what this change will mean for you."

    We responded by asking if the new owners would restore the alternate SMTP port turned off by Client Arena. We assumed that as the new owners Speed Web Solutions would finish out any reseller agreements entered by Client Arena.

    The prompt reply from a Mohamed Abdul was confusing to say the least:

    "As I said. We take only the company and servicing, only those who want
    to continue with us, not take over their Servers. We are not responsible
    for what he did absolutely nothing Client-Arena or what you promised.
    If you want to try our servicing give a reply."

    The syntax of the SpeedWebSolutions correspondance is disturbingly similar to Client-Arena's. However, before anyone leaps to the conclusion that this is just a ploy to continue Client Arena under another name, one should take a moment to appreciate that one company buying another is a complicated process and glitches will occur as assets and liabilities are discovered.

    More as it happens -- and I'll be interested in experiences other WHTers may be having with SpeedWeb Solution's purchase and takeover of Client Arena.

    Aza D. Oberman

  17. #17
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    Sounds like just another company that got where they didn't care about customers.

    Usually it is because business is so good they are not going to be worried about you little people. In this case looks like they knew they were going down and just didn't care.

    I will say that it is very odd for a business that has a domain name only registered since Creation Date: 2012-01-26 18:58:36 would be buying out any company.
    Then again whois data is not a true sign of how old a company is and I get that.

    Sure hope things work out sorry to hear someone having troubles.
    It is kind of scary seeing incidents like this. These kind of stories have become common and might endanger the image of web hosting companies as a whole.

    I still often wonder how people like that manage to attract customers.
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  18. #18
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    It's also a matter of business ethics

    Quote Originally Posted by cutabovehost View Post
    Sounds like just another company that got where they didn't care about customers.

    <Snip>
    I still often wonder how people like that manage to attract customers.
    Well, there is a niche for a kind of bare bones hosting. Not offering backups halves your disk requirement for example. A bit of throttling can trim your bandwidth load. Can the fancy Shell access, FrontPage extensions, or resold account billing schemes. And you can always play the percentages that your customers have largely "set and forget" websites.

    The attraction is price. The market is in-house users.

    In my case we run a bunch of in-house dedicated servers, but we also want a small capability to support employee sites and collect daily status reports from the dedicates. We need reliable email, access to SendMail, and perhaps a Cpan module or two, but otherwise all we need is decent up-time physically located nowhere near our dedicateds. Little did we know that that ClientArena would go down for days on end and curtail services within less than 120 days after we paid for two years.

    According to Speed Web Solutions, the outfit that claims to have "bought" Client-Arena.Net, they got 3,200 clients -- apparently with no obligation to service any existing contracts; a rather novel and suspiciously self-serving business model to say the least.

    To mitigate damages from Client Arena/SpeedWebSolutions mischief we opened an account with OnProMedia -- It's like a date with a cute local after the Navy's been in town on shore leave... It's nice to deal with a straight up and responsibly priced vendor. BUT, they do charge significantly more and offer competence waaaaay beyond our needs.

    One point that needs making is that it is absurd to agree to any TOS that doesn't make sense. Not the least of which is an outfit that charges you should you object to a draw on your credit card, or someone who wants you to enter into an annual contract but only guarantees that the first 30 days will be acceptable!

    I still think there is a market for a clearly bare bones reseller account. But I've not found anyone who has picked up on this market. In the meantime I'm tickled to death with what we're getting from OnPro Media Ltd. -- albeit they are not the cheapest game in town.

    Regards,

    Aza
    Last edited by ImageLogic; 02-08-2012 at 01:00 AM. Reason: typo

  19. #19
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    SpeedWebSolutions bails out Client-Arena fiasco

    I guess this is good news. I'd been bitching and moaning in this thread about the bizarre behavior of Client-Arena who cut back service shortly after we paid in advance for two years.

    SpeedWebSolutions acquired Client-Arena and just made good on our Client Arena account. They gave us their equivalent reseller account and deserve kudos for behaving like a serious enterprise interested in keeping customers.

    We'll see how it works out.

    Although English is clearly not SpeedWebSolutions' native language and communication is difficult, good intentions go a long way and their prices are more than competitive.

    More in perhaps six months once we can report what the service is like.

    Regards,

    Aza D. Oberman

  20. #20
    looks like client arena past owner and speed current present owner still the same italian only different name of host and persons name (ivan bordowski ? Lol) ?

  21. #21
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    Yeah, I'd be willing to bet SpeedWebSolutions is is run by at least some of the same folks who ran that ClientArena travesty.

    BUT, and here's the thing, they seem to have dumped the chump(s) with the bad attitude and cleaned up their act. They certainly are *much* easier to work with and seem to have a better command of English.

    We're not using the SpeedWebSolutions reseller account very much because we already had gotten another one elsewhere (OnProMedia which I *highly* recommend; although they cost considerably more, OnProMedia delivers value for money with prompt good humored support, excellent up times, and a rational TOS).

    We expect, however, to let some high school students use the SpeedWebSolutions account for their computer science project (building W3C certified HTML web sites). The teacher is quite keen on the idea and we'll at least get a tax write-off and a chance to see if SpeedWebSolutions can deliver over the long haul.

    So the bottom line is that while it may be all or part of the same ClientArema crowd that's running SpeedWebSolutions, they've mellowed considerably and may be ready to play the big leagues and provide solid service at a bargain price.

    Stay tuned -- I'll post a one year report when we have more of a performance history.

    Regards,

    Aza

  22. #22
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    "The big question is how many folks like me will buy excess capacity just for the security of knowing it’s there"

    Hopefully not too many. I would assume if more than a very small percentage of users tried to fill accounts 90% or more that one might find that the storage really isn't there after all.

    edit: must read entire thread before making a reply LOL. But I can't say I'm surprised by the outcome.
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