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  1. #1

    Server Management Business?

    I've had a little interest in managing servers for clients, but was wondering, is there really demand out there for customers who want system admins to manage their servers for them? Would it be worthwhile to "take it to market"?

  2. #2
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    I think that the need is there, however it is just difficult to work out the numbers so you (the admin) aren't changing so little that it isn't worth it, yet you aren't charging so much that the typical 'needy client' can't afford you. There's been a few offers of this nature posted here before, though I can't recall the usernames off hand. Maybe searching for 'remote server admin' or even just 'server admin' might bring up a couple of the threads and you can contact the people who have tried it before or read the threads.

    In some ways, it is nothing more than managed hosting, errr.. but without the hosting, heh, just the managed...
    HostHideout.com - Where professionals discuss web hosting.

    Chicken

  3. #3
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    The biggest problem with a situation like that is that unlike real managed hosting, you'll generally not have physical access to the machine. Something I consider an absolute necessity. But that is just my own paranoia speaking I'm sure.
    <!-- boo! -->

  4. #4
    well, I think there is a demand for this type of the service, but unfortunately this is not the best place for business fishing... why? Most users here prefer $2 a month hosting accounts and $99 dedicated servers )

    but you can be lucky.... it's always good to try, rather than doing nothing

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by apollo
    well, I think there is a demand for this type of the service, but unfortunately this is not the best place for business fishing... why? Most users here prefer $2 a month hosting accounts and $99 dedicated servers )

    but you can be lucky.... it's always good to try, rather than doing nothing
    Get it right it's $5 - $99.

  6. #6
    hehe
    but you got my point

  7. #7
    Greetings DizixCom:

    "The biggest problem with a situation like that is that unlike real managed hosting, you'll generally not have physical access to the machine. Something I consider an absolute necessity."

    We've been providing non-facility based managed services since 1998 (our parent company in business since 1995).

    We are located in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    One of our recent projects involved setting up servers (load balancing, back end database server with replication, mail server, backup server, managed firewalls, managed intrusion detection systems) in Dublin, Ireland.

    We never left our air conditioned office.

    On September 10th we had an emergency contract from a NY company with two Windows servers (one was a SQL 7 server) in Altanta, GA that needed migration to one Windows server in Sterling, VA.

    The migration had to be completed by the 12th because of a data center shut down. We completed the work on the evening of September 11th, and the client's site had no down time.

    Yet, we never left our office.

    We just completed migrating an NTT/Verio client from an old Sun server to a new Sun server, and migrating a Rackspace.com client from two non-Rackmountable servers to two Rackmountable servers, and set up a third server for them.

    The Rackspace servers are in Texas and the client in Iowa. We never left our office.

    The only times physical access to a machine is important are for hardware upgrades and hard reboots; the later is required rarely. The data center personnel usually handle the hardware upgrades.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  8. #8
    Greetings bambenek:

    "I've had a little interest in managing servers for clients, but was wondering, is there really demand out there for customers who want system admins to manage their servers for them? Would it be worthwhile to "take it to market"?"

    There is a demand for this type of work, Bambenek.

    *** From your previous posts, you appear to have the technical skills necessary to accomplish the task. ***

    However, this industry does require insurance; some jobs do require being bonded.

    Some work requires you have a solid VPN; and, sometimes the client requirements for a VPN mean you cannot use something home grown on a Linux box (meaning, they may give you hardware and software requirements you must meet).

    It is also very important to price yourself correct since the benchmark is ROI based on their next best alternatives.

    And if you come in like a cheap laborer claiming to do things people charge $1,000+ per server for $15 per month, you will not last long.

    Your solutions have to be well thought out and presented.

    An IDS that

    1) Is not behind a managed firewall.

    And

    2) Is not managed itself

    Is completely worthless. It is not better than nothing, it is worse than nothing.

    Lastly, you do need to be able to have a unique selling proposition that goes well beyond pricing. Why you? What's different about you than Nuclio / Stratasource / SevenSpace, We Manage Servers, and the varirous other competitors in this realm.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  9. #9
    Greetings Apollo:

    "well, I think there is a demand for this type of the service, but unfortunately this is not the best place for business fishing... why? Most users here prefer $2 a month hosting accounts and $99 dedicated servers "

    Agreed. The Dublin, Ireland project ran for $7,500 per month not counting any equipment; the lease on the equipment ran higher than that per month.

    There are some Rackshack.net and similar clients, however, that will pay the equivalent of serveral months worth of dedicated servers for one-time projects as long as those one-time projects produce value above and beyond the investment.

    However, for the most part, it is hard to present meaningful solutions to a crowd paying around $99 for dedicated a lot less for shared.

    The time involved in managed services doesn't vary greatly from client to client; therefore it is better to work on those clients that can afford the solutions that are meaningful compared to trying to "Shlitzitize" meaningful solutions into something this crowd can afford to pay.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  10. #10
    Nice posts dynamicnet!

    well, a custom work costs money and it costs much more than just a simple and powered server hardware platform... I agree with you

    I am sure there is a business there and this is why large companies/clients prefer to outsource.... because they will spend less rather than doing it in-house (no workforce, time frame, education etc)


  11. #11
    Dynamicnet-

    I think you seem to mistake the service I am thinking about offering. I'm not talking about doing things for Fortune 500 companies. I'm talking about managing servers for small hosting companies. If large projects come along, fine, but I'm not even targetting that because this is something I'm doing in free time. Spending 60 hours a week with one client isn't in the cards.

  12. #12
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    dynamicnet

    You have impressive experiences! Thanks for the insight, it is always good to hear just how well things go when managed properly. As I said, I'm a bit paranoid. I just can't get comfortable with not having physical access to the servers. Must be the programmer in me that knows just how easily programmers break things.
    <!-- boo! -->

  13. #13
    Greetings bambenek:

    "I think you seem to mistake the service I am thinking about offering. I'm not talking about doing things for Fortune 500 companies. I'm talking about managing servers for small hosting companies."

    1. Of which all of the points specified still apply.

    2. If you think the points don't apply, then please read the story about Shiltz beer. Please, please, please. Read it several times.

    Meaningful solutions is what it is all about. There are times one purposely chooses to degrade quality (which can also mean cutting out necessary features / provisioning) in order to price themselves for a certain market.

    Most of those times NOTHING is better than something.

    Why is NOTHING better than something?

    Because the quality has been so degraded or the total offering so cut down that the client is not receiving anything meaningful for their money. They are paying for something, but getting nothing more than what they had before other than an illusion.

    And those are the worse risks because eventually the illusion will be dispelled, and they will have or at least think they have legal recourse for being sold vaporware.

    In ending, based on our experiencing servicing small (one person, two person shops) to larger enterprises, all of the points stated do apply.

    And you are better off going after the larger companies (btw, the Ireland project would not have fit on the Fortune 5,000 <yes, I mean 5,000> map... they were that small of a company --- around 10 employees) than smaller ones because the amount of effort to supply a meaningful solution is the same no matter the actual size of the client.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  14. #14
    Greetings Scott:

    "I just can't get comfortable with not having physical access to the servers. Must be the programmer in me that knows just how easily programmers break things."

    As a fellow programmer, I have to ask when do you need physical access to a machine to program? ;-)

    In any event, I hear where you are coming from. We do encounter a number of people like yourself who feel safer when either they have close access to the box or that we would have closer access to the boxes.

    That's why we are actually working on building out a facility where we can do facility-based managed services as well as non-facility based.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  15. #15
    Dynamicnet-

    I am talking about managing servers right now. I'm not talking about IDS's. System administration services, by definition are providing managed solutions. The "meaningful" solution is doing system admin support for companies that don't want to do it themselves...

  16. #16
    Greetings bambenek:

    Just a note... as I stated earlier, I believe you have (at least in these forums) shown you have technical expertise.

    So please do not take my replies (this is Peter out of our team, btw) as a cut down. It is one of my dreams everyone would be able to start and manage their own company for at least a period of time.

    And as a capitalist, I wish everyone success even our competitors.

    Developing meaningful solutions and pricing them appropriately takes time and effort. And I think that is the main point of disconnect / contention.

    May I offer some resources?:

    http://www.realrates.com/
    Janet Ruhl is the acknowledged queen of helping people become computer consultants.

    Making Solutions the Answer
    http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/art...1080&pagenum=1

    Putting a Price on Solutions
    http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/art...1081&pagenum=1

    Of note with Janet Ruhl, she has a good book (get it if you plan to pursue this business) that has excellent guidelines on pricing YOUR time.

    Most people make the mistake of looking at what they were paid per hour as an employee or even taking what they want to make per year and dividing it by 2,080 (the work hours in a year).

    Janet has some excellent rules of thumb with reasons why this is all wrong.

    You may end up staying after reading all of these resources (including the Shiltz beer story -- seriously) that you are going after the mom and pop and it still does not apply.

    Well, it does... and we will have to agree to disagree.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  17. #17
    Greetings bambenek:

    "The "meaningful" solution is doing system admin support for companies that don't want to do it themselves..."

    That's part of the develiverable. If nothing more, then you are a pure contractor (which is different than a service provider).

    In that case, still read Janet Ruhl's resources as it will help you price yourself correctly based on the value you bring to the table.

    Thank you.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  18. #18
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    dynamicnet,

    I don't need the access for programming, but for the servers I operate I like that I do have access to them. It's just that being a programmer can make someone kinda dangerous when compared to a good sysadmin, who likely has no fear working remotely.

    At any rate, I apologize for taking this thread off topic, I really believe that a good sysadming could perform most things remotely but they'd want to be certain they could contact the folks in the data center in case of any troubles. Bambenek, I think if you were confident and capable of providing this service, there are many many people out there who could use it and would pay for it. Especially if you could offer something inbetween the Rackshack and Rackspace scenario, at a price point somewhere in the middle.

    Good luck!
    <!-- boo! -->

  19. #19
    I have a really good idea of what my time is worth for full time, but I'm looking for work in small doses. If you have any leads to someone looking for a remote system admin, full time, I'd more than appeciate them.

  20. #20
    Greetings Bambenek:

    "I have a really good idea of what my time is worth for full time, but I'm looking for work in small doses."

    We recently hired additional server administrators, but if you send us your resume, we will keep it on file.

    Of note, please read Janet Rhul's book on becoming a computer consultant. You will be surprised. You cannot go by what your time would be worth if you worked full time. Her book will explain why.

    Thank you, and take care.
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  21. #21
    Dynamicnet-

    Well, I work for a company being bought by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and did consulting through them. I know what I was billed at, and know what people make. The difference is that I work from home and get paid basically to do nothing. I'm looking for little things here and there basically to help make a downpayment on my house...

    resume in route....

  22. #22
    Greetings bambenek:

    "Well, I work for a company being bought by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and did consulting through them. I know what I was billed at, and know what people make. The difference is that I work from home and get paid basically to do nothing. I'm looking for little things here and there basically to help make a downpayment on my house..."

    Last post (I promise). Read Janet's book.

    Also, when you had your review for a raise... did it matter that you needed a new car, new house, etc.? Or did it matter what value you brought to the table?

    Even as a pure contractor, you must price yourself correctly to survive and grow in the market place. Enough said as I am repeating myself ;-)
    ---
    Peter M. Abraham
    LinkedIn Profile

  23. #23
    No, the fact that I want extra money has got nothing to do with what I get paid at CGE&Y, it has to do more with why I want to get extra money instead of sitting around at home drinking beer in my underwear at 9am.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    You might want to throw The Computer Consultans Workbook in there as well, I've lived by those books for the last 6 years, though I don't think I've picked either up in at least 3.
    <!-- boo! -->

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