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  1. #1
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    Resellers: Beware of H9

    Good afternoon everyone,

    I am and have been a H9 reseller client since 2009. Over the last 3 years there have been a significant amount of changes to the service given to customers.

    I need to provide some background for those who are unaware of how H9 operates on their reseller accounts. H9 is a cPanel host, however, they use RC, a proprietary panel that is limited in functionality compared to WHM. They use RC because they host your accounts on hundreds of servers and spread users' accounts over different nodes. So, at any given time a Reseller could have clients on a number of different servers (ASIA, US-East, US-Central, US-West, UK).

    For some clients, a reseller account is used as a stepping stone to a VPS or Dedicated server. H9's RC is being used as a contract. If you're with them, and intend to grow outside of a reseller account, have fun (even if it means upgrading to a dedicated server with them).

    Because your accounts are spread over a number of servers, you would either need root access (not happening) or the individual cPanel usernames/passwords for each account. In a sense, if you ever want to move from H9, be prepared to modify each cPanel account's password and do a cPanel to cPanel transfer manually. This will be painful especially if you have over 500 accounts! There is no way to mass change passwords, and each password change via RC takes about 60 seconds.

    Since I have over 500 accounts, I have been talking with management to order a dedicated server, since I can no longer sustain my business on a Reseller. They will only move X accounts for you (even though this would be an easy process since they have the root pw's) equivalent to your dollar spend per month. So in my case, I would order an entry level server at $169. They would only move 169 accounts for free, anything after that would result in a $75 per hour charge. I have no problem doing the migrations myself, but it seems as if management is going out of its way to punish you for trying to move.

    Nothing is free - everyone knows that. Ever since 'A Small Orange' acquired this operation, service has gone down hill. Response times on tickets remain the same (or better) but the responses themselves are terrible (lack of skill, lazy, or both).

    When it is time to move you and your clients sites they will not assist with a migration, and because they use a proprietary panel, you will need to do a cPanel to cPanel transfer FOR EACH account.

    Here is the TL;DR:

    I have a Reseller account with H9, asked to have a Dedicated Server setup and have all of my accounts move from my Reseller to the Dedicated and H9 wants me to manually move each account or pay $75 an hour. If you are a reseller with H9 and intend to grow into a large hosting operation, prepare to spend a week moving the accounts manually. The manager I spoke with took her word back and will not honor the 'free migration service' which was offered.

  2. #2
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    Even if you're moving from their reseller account to their dedicated server, you still have to pay the $75/hour fee?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daryl View Post
    Even if you're moving from their reseller account to their dedicated server, you still have to pay the $75/hour fee?
    Yup. I had no problem paying the premium for a dedicated server with them (their entry level server is overpriced compared to the competition, but would be worth the trouble it'd save me moving everything).

  4. #4
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    Going off the TL;DR... they told you they offered free moving when you signed up?
    Currently hosting with SolidShellSecurity.com && awknet.com
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  5. #5
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    Yup - early in the conversation with the manager she said they would move my accounts from the shared servers to a single dedicated (so that I would have WHM), but would not assist in moving it to another provider(that is fair, I wouldn't expect them to help me move it to another provider).

    If you have a hostnine reseller, don't plan on moving to a dedicated or VPS. They'll do everything they can from letting you leave (I'd compare my experience to be worse than I've had with getting out of an AT&T contract!)

  6. #6
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    What do you mean by RC? And $75 a hour to move accounts which is easy.

    That's a bit high per hour, 20 at the most for a hour, but most reliable hosts do it as a service to their customers.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelDance View Post
    What do you mean by RC? And $75 a hour to move accounts which is easy.

    That's a bit high per hour, 20 at the most for a hour, but most reliable hosts do it as a service to their customers.
    RC is their proprietary control panel for Resellers, aka Reseller Central.

    I've been in talks with their management for the last 3 weeks and nothing good has come from it. Customer loyalty gets you no where with this outfit (even after 3 years of annual subscription, /sigh)

  8. #8
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    Hi! I'm the Manager in question that the gentleman above had the conversation with, so I thought I would jump in. Please note I will only address the policies with regard to HostNine as stated and the reasoning behind them - customer privacy (even after they go to WHT) is something we take very seriously.

    The policy above is correct in that, at this point, HostNine will now only move X number of sites equal to X number of dollars paid monthly at no cost from our Reseller platform to our VPS or Dedicated Server platform as policy.

    This policy change took place only within the last week and was, unfortunately, in response to a Reseller choosing to claim that they were staying with us and would not leave after negotiating a discounted dedicated server when they were only doing to in order to utilize the free migration services to make moving to another host easier and faster. While I applaud the ingenuity, it unfortunately prompted us to reconsider the previous policy and whether we could bear that type of cost for extremely large resellers with many, many sites as migrations are time consuming for us as well. Turning up servers also requires time, cost, and an investment that we additionally have to consider.

    After looking at a number of potential scenarios, we realized we could not and the policy was changed.

    The manual work involved in moving a large number of sites off our proprietary multi-location platform can be tedious and time consuming, but it is possible to do without our intervention so long as the Reseller has the account passwords. So long as something is able to be done without our intervention and can be done by the customer, asking us to do it for them because they simply don't wish to do so does (in general) garner administrative fees.

    Resellers are aware that our RC is not WHM, and does not have all the capabilities of the WHM. Of course, it does have capabilities that the WHM cannot do, like being able to move sites anywhere in the world without our intervention, and at the will of our customers. If folks choose to leave the HostNine platform, however, it can be a bit time consuming to move it into a strict WHM platform just as it would be to move from one platform to any other different platform, and we try to be extremely upfront about those issues. Again, while it is a bit more complex, it is definitely possible for our customers to do so with absolutely no intervention from us.

    We would have much preferred to leave the policy as it was to ensure that our customers could move from one platform to another with little to no effort on their part regardless of their size but this situation, unfortunately, illustrated a risk we had not considered. Potentially, if someone is pre-paying for a long period of time we may re-evaluate the policy on a case by case basis, and we are still firming up the parameters. Due to the situation that took place, however, we felt it necessary to put into place and felt the formula we arrived at was a good compromise.

    We are always happy to facilitate our customers moves (coming or going - though, granted, we're not quite as happy when they're going), and are happy to perform custom work to make their lives a bit easier, but if it is something they are capable of performing themselves we do have to charge fees for those services.

    If anyone has any questions, please let me know.
    Jen Lepp
    Director of Customer Service
    A Small Orange Homegrown Hosting | http://www.asmallorange.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JenLepp View Post
    Hi! I'm the Manager in question that the gentleman above had the conversation with, so I thought I would jump in. Please note I will only address the policies with regard to HostNine as stated and the reasoning behind them - customer privacy (even after they go to WHT) is something we take very seriously.

    The policy above is correct in that, at this point, HostNine will now only move X number of sites equal to X number of dollars paid monthly at no cost from our Reseller platform to our VPS or Dedicated Server platform as policy.

    This policy change took place only within the last week and was, unfortunately, in response to a Reseller choosing to claim that they were staying with us and would not leave after negotiating a discounted dedicated server when they were only doing to in order to utilize the free migration services to make moving to another host easier and faster. While I applaud the ingenuity, it unfortunately prompted us to reconsider the previous policy and whether we could bear that type of cost for extremely large resellers with many, many sites as migrations are time consuming for us as well. Turning up servers also requires time, cost, and an investment that we additionally have to consider.

    After looking at a number of potential scenarios, we realized we could not and the policy was changed.

    The manual work involved in moving a large number of sites off our proprietary multi-location platform can be tedious and time consuming, but it is possible to do without our intervention so long as the Reseller has the account passwords. So long as something is able to be done without our intervention and can be done by the customer, asking us to do it for them because they simply don't wish to do so does (in general) garner administrative fees.

    Resellers are aware that our RC is not WHM, and does not have all the capabilities of the WHM. Of course, it does have capabilities that the WHM cannot do, like being able to move sites anywhere in the world without our intervention, and at the will of our customers. If folks choose to leave the HostNine platform, however, it can be a bit time consuming to move it into a strict WHM platform just as it would be to move from one platform to any other different platform, and we try to be extremely upfront about those issues. Again, while it is a bit more complex, it is definitely possible for our customers to do so with absolutely no intervention from us.

    We would have much preferred to leave the policy as it was to ensure that our customers could move from one platform to another with little to no effort on their part regardless of their size but this situation, unfortunately, illustrated a risk we had not considered. Potentially, if someone is pre-paying for a long period of time we may re-evaluate the policy on a case by case basis, and we are still firming up the parameters. Due to the situation that took place, however, we felt it necessary to put into place and felt the formula we arrived at was a good compromise.

    We are always happy to facilitate our customers moves (coming or going - though, granted, we're not quite as happy when they're going), and are happy to perform custom work to make their lives a bit easier, but if it is something they are capable of performing themselves we do have to charge fees for those services.

    If anyone has any questions, please let me know.
    Took me a while to read that, why don't you consider moving to WHM?
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  10. #10
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    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for your response. I understand your motivations regarding the total # of migrations vs Cost.

    The limitations of RC is really not the customers fault - yes, it is a great app for spreading accounts out over a number of geographical locations - but it limits their ability to truly manage their accounts.

    I've been with H9 even before the CP was released, and my service was better with WHM. CP was(and still is in some areas) a weak platform when it was introduced. Resellers were not given the opportunity to choose if they wanted to stick with WHM or CP. As a grandfathered account, this should be considered.

    Giving your customers the ability to move accounts to a specific node (not just a target area, because it gets load balanced) is necessary so users can get a temporary WHM and migrate accounts without the user violating their customers privacy. I for one, as a host, think that changing a customers password for ANY purposes (other than security) is a violation of privacy. As a large host that values privacy you must consider what you are asking your clients to do.

    With regards to facilitating customer moves - I've never once had a positive experience, so I've always moved accounts on my own via cPanel full backups.

    Yes, technically I can do the move myself. But by doing so I am not using the tools that are freely available for this purpose (WHM to WHM transfer) AND am violating ITIL process and privacy guidelines.

  11. #11
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    I was not concise in my last posting regarding the resources required to move accounts.

    As we know you need the root password of each server for a WHM to WHM transfer, so it wouldn't matter if temporary WHM access was given (other than to facilitate faster password resets since it takes approximately 30 seconds per account in RC).

    I am more than willing to pay the cost of a server to have a tech work on this issue - I understand that it does take time out of your techs schedule and everything costs something. My issue with the whole situation is that I feel that resellers are being held hostage (especially those with a high amount of accounts).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelDance View Post
    Took me a while to read that, why don't you consider moving to WHM?
    Because a single WHM account cannot operate across multiple locations, which is one of the core features of our Reseller hosting.
    Jen Lepp
    Director of Customer Service
    A Small Orange Homegrown Hosting | http://www.asmallorange.com

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCNC View Post
    Hi Jen,

    Thank you for your response. I understand your motivations regarding the total # of migrations vs Cost.

    The limitations of RC is really not the customers fault - yes, it is a great app for spreading accounts out over a number of geographical locations - but it limits their ability to truly manage their accounts.
    Yes, it does in some ways. The ability of people to pick up and move an account from Amsterdam to Dallas within an hour or two is a complicated feature, and there are some tradeoffs. RC is not WHM, nor does of duplicate all the functionality, though our developers are constantly working to improve it and add features to RC.

    Quote Originally Posted by DCNC View Post
    I've been with H9 even before the CP was released, and my service was better with WHM. CP was(and still is in some areas) a weak platform when it was introduced. Resellers were not given the opportunity to choose if they wanted to stick with WHM or CP. As a grandfathered account, this should be considered.
    If you can give me the tickets or interactions where you were forced onto RC and not given a choice, that might be a consideration if that was what happened to you specifically.

    Overall, Resellers were given a choice - Reseller Central began being offered in 2007 and for a couple of years HostNine offered WHM and non-WHM RC Multi-location hosting. In 2009, HostNine made a choice to focus on the RC Multi-location platform and resellers were given the option to move into RC - they were enticed with better packages and overselling at the time if they did move. If they chose to move, they were imported.

    However, many chose to stay on a WHM single location account because they didn't want to go to RC, and many of those Resellers are still on our service today.

    If you know the ticket number where you were forced to move off of WHM to RC despite stating that you wanted to stay on WHM, I would be happy to look into that - we keep all tickets going back years. I have not been able to document this, however, or any customer being forced to move. If anyone on WHT has a ticket number for that happening to anyone at all, not just the OP, I would love to look into it.


    Quote Originally Posted by DCNC View Post
    Giving your customers the ability to move accounts to a specific node (not just a target area, because it gets load balanced) is necessary so users can get a temporary WHM and migrate accounts without the user violating their customers privacy. I for one, as a host, think that changing a customers password for ANY purposes (other than security) is a violation of privacy. As a large host that values privacy you must consider what you are asking your clients to do.

    With regards to facilitating customer moves - I've never once had a positive experience, so I've always moved accounts on my own via cPanel full backups.

    Yes, technically I can do the move myself. But by doing so I am not using the tools that are freely available for this purpose (WHM to WHM transfer) AND am violating ITIL process and privacy guidelines.
    I understand your point, but I again have to reiterate this account is not a WHM account, nor has it ever been advertised as one. Simply buying a cPanel account does not denote the host will offer all features in cPanel, and a Reseller account is not synonymous with a WHM account.

    I did check the archive.org snapshot from the time that you signed up, and this was clearly stated. In addition, at the time of your sign up, Plesk accounts were also offered with Reseller Central and clearly stated. I truly don't see how anyone could have understood RC to be the equivalent of WHM when Plesk accounts could also be installed.

    It appears to me that your complaint is that our RC lacks a feature that you feel is needed - and that's a fair complaint. I can see how a mass moving ability similar to WHM would be a useful thing for people moving to VPS's, Dedicated Servers, or off our service. It is not, however, a feature of RC at this time. I have passed this on to our developers to see if they can address this, as this is the first complaint regarding this I have gotten, and we do our best to be responsive to feature requests, though some take a bit more time than others. Since our panel is custom we will see what we can come up with as we are now only offering cPanel on RC and that was not always the case.

    However, this complaint is, at it's core, a feature request/feature addition - while I appreciate this is a feature that you need immediately, it's not one we can implement immediately. Again, we're happy to work with you to attempt to work something out (and are in your ticket), and the need/request for the feature is one that we will look closely at.
    Jen Lepp
    Director of Customer Service
    A Small Orange Homegrown Hosting | http://www.asmallorange.com

  14. #14
    So you took a hit from one customer, and have decided to pullout of your agreement with another long time customer because they "might" be doing the same thing?
    Last edited by geolie; 04-03-2012 at 03:37 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by geolie View Post
    So you took a hit form one customer,and have decided to pullout of your agreement with another long time customer because they "might" be doing the same thing?
    Because of privacy issues, I can't answer specifics. All I can say is that what you outlined is not the case and is not what we did.

    I'm happy to discuss our overall motivations in changing the policy and why, but not the specifics of customer relationships or actions or our specific actions with customers (in relation to their actions or statements) without leave to do so from the customer specifically. To do so I would have to share their communications with us or their actions to clarify why we would do or say something, and I'm not comfortable at all doing that without their explicit permission (not to mention I think its a bit tacky).

    I know this puts me at a bit of a disadvantage in "arguing" our company position because I cannot outline specifics, but I hope folks reading can understand why I cannot say more than that without leave to do so.

    Thanks.
    Jen Lepp
    Director of Customer Service
    A Small Orange Homegrown Hosting | http://www.asmallorange.com

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by JenLepp View Post
    This policy change took place only within the last week and was, unfortunately, in response to a Reseller choosing to claim that they were staying with us and would not leave after negotiating a discounted dedicated server when they were only doing to in order to utilize the free migration services to make moving to another host easier and faster.

    I was just going by what you actually said. I was browsing the forums looking for a new host. Would seem to me that, satisfying an existing customer, by following your original agreement would have been more effective in dealing with your "disadvantage". And would have made this thread, beneficial instead of harmful.

    Good luck to the OP.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by geolie View Post
    I was just going by what you actually said. I was browsing the forums looking for a new host. Would seem to me that, satisfying an existing customer, by following your original agreement would have been more effective in dealing with your "disadvantage". And would have made this thread, beneficial instead of harmful.

    Good luck to the OP.
    What I have outlined is our perspective for the change in policy, as that seemed to be the OP's complaint, and I stated from the outset that I would not address the OP's specific complaint because to do that would violate the OP's privacy regarding his communication with us.

    I am comfortable saying that the information that the OP presented here, and the information we were given, are different. We made decisions regarding information the OP gave directly to us and not based on the information in this post.

    Thanks.
    Jen Lepp
    Director of Customer Service
    A Small Orange Homegrown Hosting | http://www.asmallorange.com

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by geolie View Post
    I was just going by what you actually said. I was browsing the forums looking for a new host. Would seem to me that, satisfying an existing customer, by following your original agreement would have been more effective in dealing with your "disadvantage". And would have made this thread, beneficial instead of harmful.

    Good luck to the OP.
    I wrote a module for Reseller Central years ago back when I was developing it that allowed for quick migration to external servers provided there was an SSH key in place on that server. It saved me a bunch of time since I was constantly dealing with those customers that had a lot of accounts and wanted to move to a dedicated box and such. When I left H9 and took over another company, they wanted to charge me $75/hr to run my own script. There was no "admin" work involved. I felt really screwed when they wanted to charge me to do something I had done for them for years knowing that it was pretty much automated.

    There have always been customers that tried abusing H9's systems, and that's what resulted in a lot of these changes to policy. It's not something I necessarily blame them for, but at the same time, I think they are being very unreasonable with certain situations. Back when Ben was involved, he would bend over backwards to make everyone happy. While I have seen the complaints overall drop substantially since A Small Orange bought out HostNine, the complaints I'm seeing pop up seem to be the easiest ones to avoid.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt R View Post
    I wrote a module for Reseller Central years ago back when I was developing it that allowed for quick migration to external servers provided there was an SSH key in place on that server. It saved me a bunch of time since I was constantly dealing with those customers that had a lot of accounts and wanted to move to a dedicated box and such. When I left H9 and took over another company, they wanted to charge me $75/hr to run my own script. There was no "admin" work involved. I felt really screwed when they wanted to charge me to do something I had done for them for years knowing that it was pretty much automated.

    There have always been customers that tried abusing H9's systems, and that's what resulted in a lot of these changes to policy. It's not something I necessarily blame them for, but at the same time, I think they are being very unreasonable with certain situations. Back when Ben was involved, he would bend over backwards to make everyone happy. While I have seen the complaints overall drop substantially since A Small Orange bought out HostNine, the complaints I'm seeing pop up seem to be the easiest ones to avoid.
    Rather looking forward to a response from H9 now, given this information!
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by side3 View Post
    Rather looking forward to a response from H9 now, given this information!
    If someone was employed by HostNine as a developer for Reseller Central and wrote a module for the proprietary platform, it would seem that we should have this module since it would be property of the company but it doesn't seem that we do. I did ask those employees still with us who were with HostNine for years previous to the acquisition (including our developers, who were both with HostNine previous to its acquisition), and they seemed unfamiliar with it as well.

    I did ask around about the situation named above with the script, but the recollection of folks regarding what that conversation entailed was, again, different than what was listed here and involved a non-employee having root access to our servers (which, for obvious reasons, isn't something that's allowed).
    Jen Lepp
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    A Small Orange Homegrown Hosting | http://www.asmallorange.com

  21. #21
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    To be honest, just a personal opinion, but I do find it hard to believe that even if you're not aware of this module, someone will have created/commissioned something to do the same or a similar job since.

    There just wouldn't be any point in spending numerous man-hours on transfers, when the time spent could be cut down fairly simply.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by side3 View Post
    To be honest, just a personal opinion, but I do find it hard to believe that even if you're not aware of this module, someone will have created/commissioned something to do the same or a similar job since.

    There just wouldn't be any point in spending numerous man-hours on transfers, when the time spent could be cut down fairly simply.
    There's not, I agree, but I didn't say we had no automation, I stated that we have no RC module that integrates this automation into the RC at this time.

    As to this particular module, I can't speak for why it supposedly existed "for years" and the previous management chose not to integrate it when developing Reseller Central as I wasn't at HostNine pre-acquisition, and no one still currently at the company that was from HostNine pre-acquisition seems to be familiar with the module he's speaking of. Our two developers were both at HostNine for several years, and are very familiar with RC and they are unaware of the module's existence.

    We do have some internal root-run scripts to help speed the transfer process along internally, but these are not integrated into RC for mass-transfers.
    Last edited by JenLepp; 04-04-2012 at 01:53 PM. Reason: clarification
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by JenLepp View Post
    There's not, I agree, but I didn't say we had no automation, I stated that we have no RC module that integrates this automation into the RC at this time.

    As to this particular module, I can't speak for why it supposedly existed "for years" and the previous management chose not to integrate it when developing Reseller Central as I wasn't at HostNine pre-acquisition, and no one still currently at the company that was from HostNine pre-acquisition seems to be familiar with the module he's speaking of. Our two developers were both at HostNine for several years, and are very familiar with RC and they are unaware of the module's existence.

    We do have some internal root-run scripts to help speed the transfer process along internally, but these are not integrated into RC.
    Fair point, and kudos for coming on here and addressing the issues. If I could ask one question, just from my own morbid curiosity - if you've accepted that this is an issue, and a client side module is possible to be created - why don't you?

    If it means spending a few hundred dollars to get a coder in to write the module, wouldn't that be worth the saving you'd make in support calls/tickets, and your time answering threads like this?

    Once again, not having a go, just curious
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by side3 View Post
    Fair point, and kudos for coming on here and addressing the issues. If I could ask one question, just from my own morbid curiosity - if you've accepted that this is an issue, and a client side module is possible to be created - why don't you?

    If it means spending a few hundred dollars to get a coder in to write the module, wouldn't that be worth the saving you'd make in support calls/tickets, and your time answering threads like this?

    Once again, not having a go, just curious
    For what its worth, I doubt the cost involved in creating such a tool is the issue. I think its more likely that while it could, and probably will be done at some point, The time it takes to do this, and fully test it, are beyond helping the OP with his issue. I believe Jen mentioned that earlier in the thread.

    From personal experience, RC is fairly complex. You cannot just slap some code in there and cross your fingers that it doesnt break anything in the process. Things must be thoroughly tested, as with any other production system, before being implemented.

    That being said, I would probably write a root-ran shell script to assist in the migration for the OP's issue. As he stated, he has 500 or so accounts he wants to move, thats no small task to do manually, and quite frankly, I wouldn't never even consider doing it manually. However, a shell script could be written fairly easily to take a list of cpanel accounts on various servers, package them up, scp them over to the new server, and then restore them. It'd probably take less than an hour to write, and probably many hours to run, but would save the OP some headache and show the level of support that H9/ASO is known for.

    Anywho, thats my 2 cents.
    Frank Laszlo - Developer
    Franksworld Solutions, LLC

  25. #25
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankLaszlo View Post
    For what its worth, I doubt the cost involved in creating such a tool is the issue. I think its more likely that while it could, and probably will be done at some point, The time it takes to do this, and fully test it, are beyond helping the OP with his issue. I believe Jen mentioned that earlier in the thread.

    From personal experience, RC is fairly complex. You cannot just slap some code in there and cross your fingers that it doesnt break anything in the process. Things must be thoroughly tested, as with any other production system, before being implemented.

    That being said, I would probably write a root-ran shell script to assist in the migration for the OP's issue. As he stated, he has 500 or so accounts he wants to move, thats no small task to do manually, and quite frankly, I wouldn't never even consider doing it manually. However, a shell script could be written fairly easily to take a list of cpanel accounts on various servers, package them up, scp them over to the new server, and then restore them. It'd probably take less than an hour to write, and probably many hours to run, but would safe the OP some headache and show the level of support that H9/ASO is known for.

    Anywho, thats my 2 cents.
    Agree with you entirely, I maybe over-simplified my response there, but my issue would be that this obviously isn't a 'new' issue, and one they've known about for a long time.

    Therefore why hasn't something been implemented earlier - if only to make customers happier, rather than the obvious feeling of being trapped, illustrated in the op's post.
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