I already run a hosting service to several high bandwidth customers who between them use up about 70% - 80% of my current minimum purchase amount of 130Mbps on a Gigabit Ethernet connection at a datacenter in Schiphol. We buy this much to get a very good price per Mbps. I have a full cabinet included in my existing setup which is nearly full although I can fit another couple of 1U server in there. For those that don't know - the reason we purchase this much extra bandwidth is because we are on a yearly contract with Schuberg Phillis who run the old MFN/AboveNet Datacenter where our equipment is located and we buy as much as is possible at the beginning of a 12 month period to allow for increased usage over the year, we've been doing this for a number of years and it works out quite well.
Until now I've dedicated my time to my existing customers and do make a good profit out of this service. We generally haven't been looking for new customers recently but are now looking to increase the workload and develop this business further.
Due to the above situation I have a large chunk of unused bandwidth which is basicly being wasted each month so I would like to utilise this by offering hosting to the lower end part of the market catering to small businesses offering some kind of budget hosting.
Due to my current setup my additional bandwidth costs for this new business will be zero unless the new hosted systems start using 20-30Mbps between the new servers by which thime this happens I will be selling enough to fund the purchase of further bandwidth - so this is a question of expansion rather than starting up from scratch.
What I need advice on is what packages I I should obtain to allow the customer to do most of the day to day setup / admin work that is required - unlike our larger clients where I do all the technical work for them and charge them for this seperately in our general agreement.
So I would like to offer a standard service which includes the software which people most often use including the following :
Shopping Cart - something like oscommerce
Forum - thinking of PHPBB2 which I have found to be pretty good
Standard CGI access with perl, etc available
Email recieving via pop3 / webmail
Control Panel which will allow users to control all aspects of their account including if it's available adding domain names and setting up new sub accounts within their main account.
Tech support ticket system although I already have a few ideas about this, currently it's done via email or telephone directly to myself and I then either solve the problem myself or pass the problem over to someone else who will solve the problem.
Basicly I can purchase new servers and control panel software but I have no experience with using these tools in a day to day environment.
That's quite a bit of bandwidth being waste a month, a bit more than some hosts have in their entire allotment for the month.
What you listed above is quite good, and since you have so much bandwidth left over you may want to give them a decent ammount. Most people want CPanel as their control panel, but plesk generally works fine as well.
I am not sure about the technical support so the customers can do it. A lot of times people who buy large shared hosting packages do it because they get good service and support as they don't know how to do it.
I work closely with a Belgian company called MyCyberhosting.com (they are our bandwidth partner and purchase a similar amount of bandwidth as us in the same contract) who offers hosting directly to the public although he doesn't use control panels and the like - only webmin and I believe he does a lot of manual work which is what I want to avoid by using things like cpanel.
Once I have sorted out exactly what I need on the hosting server(s) I will then advertise for new business via a new website.
I would also consider working with people who are already established in the virtual dedicated server hosting / shared server hosting business, bearing in mind that our servers are physically located just outside Amsterdam so access to the hardware is not easy. Hardware support / service is provided by the Belgian partner company.
It's also worth noting that this excess of bandwidth has only come about recently since we renegotiated our contract a couple of months ago and combined our purchasing power to get a much better deal than we had last year.
Last edited by neilmcaliece; 07-05-2005 at 03:14 PM.
I guess the answers depend on what type of market will you want to penetrate -- shared hosting, vps hosting, dedicated; and what level of managed services and managed security will you offer.
Your excess bandwidth would probably do well in the dedicated market; and in that case you donít have to worry too much about the software offering unless you want to create a niche which you are experienced in (i.e. oscommerce ready dedicated servers for example).
If you went the shared and VPS route, and wanted as little management as possible (in other words, highly controlled costs without concern over the number of physical servers necessary), then take a look at H-Sphere from http://www.psoft.net/ which includes complete hosting automation and FreeVPS software.