Up until now I've just been hosting family and friends accounts but now I've had an opportunity fall on my lap where I'll basically end up running a very small web hosting company (customers are already signed up and paying non-budget prices). Based on current use/needs I'm looking at a decent sized VPS to start. I'm being fed a small but steady stream of customers so if all goes well I'm looking at a dedicated in the future.
My main question is providing support. Even with a fully managed and monitored VPS account at a top provider I'm not going to be able to provide 24x7 support that is required. So I'm thinking of a 3rd party support. So here are my questions.
Anyone out there with a VPS with customers who do you use for support? Who would you recommend? I really only need a middleman for sales/support/billing for the fully managed vps.
If I'm going to need 3rd party support anyway should I be in a fully managed VPS or a semi/unmanaged one?
If I were you, I would find a host that provides 100% support for your customers. I know a number of hosts that went this route and are very comfortable with the results. You pay a bit more per month, but you have no concerns about trouble tickets. Outsourcing support to a third party is OK, but IMO it is a distant second alternative to having your host handle the support. Your host owns the server, your host provides the support. Easy and simple. The moment you introduce a 3rd party, there will always be occasion when they "pass the buck". The 3rd party will claim it is a server issue, the host will claim the 3rd party broke something. And you're caught in the middle. But if your host handles all of it, there is no question. They are responsible for everything. As for interface, simply install WHMCS or WHMAP or Ubersmith or MB or CE or any number of help desk scripts, and give your host access to it.
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I also advise to hire own support guys (Maybe 2 of them), you can do it for a very cheap price, as many people work all day long in front of computers and as a second job, the same time the can provide support services to your customers.
Thanks all for the information! Now lets say I go the route of a fully supported option but tickets need to be directed to their helpdesk/e-mail support. How can I "pipe" my user's support requests from my helpdesk/e-mail to theirs and then vice versa?
The other route is to just go the unmanaged and not supported way and outsource the support/management and allow them access (if they are willing to do it this way) to my resources.