Here's My Hosting Software Plan: Seeking Partners or Comments
I am considering developing an enterprise-class fully integrated hosting software system. I am just going to throw this out to the public to see if web hosters would be interested in this. Also, this venture would require funds I don't have so I would be interested in finding partners to make a go of this software development business together.
Here is a rough outline of the features and benefits of this proposed software:
The software would generally be designed and most useful to hosting companies with 10 or more servers. It would basically contain everything needed to operate a hosting company in one package.
I will try to describe the features from top to bottom as web hosting business processes would naturally flow. Let's assume that you own this server and are running a hosting company with this software:
* templated web site module
It would come with several different style templates. These would contain the standard features of a web hosting site. It would be easy to customize or create your own template. All the text of the site would be stored independently. It would support multiple languages and the default text would be translated into at least the top 5 languages or so.
* order configurator module
Think dell configurator and you have a good idea of what this will be capable of. Customers won't have to contact you because they will be able to build exactly the package they want
* interface to payment processing module
After the client places a order, the order will instantly route to the payment processing module which will support the major processing companies such as authorize.net.
* interface to backend module
Once the order is processed, it is instantly sent to backend server software for fufillment. If possible, it will handle all processes to build the client's account immediately, otherwise a notification and ticket will be sent to fufillment for processing.
* live chat module
a nicety for closing sales
* client portal with summary stats
Now the client has been emailed his login info and logs into a seperate site which is the client portal. There he will see a clean summary of the key info and indicators. For instance, it will tell him how many clients he has (if he is a reseller), domains in use, open support tickets, emails, bandwidth usage, etc.
* support ticket module (my tickets and my client tickets)
provides perldesk like functionality, but with a twist. The client can post tickets to you and he can receive tickets from his clients.
* knowledge base manager module
client can search your knowledge bases or create his own for his clients
* accounts payable module
client will see your recurring charges here, along with others that he may enter into the system. Through this module, he would know exactly what his complete overhead is at all times. This might eventually have some sort of billpay functionality.
* accounts receivable module
If your client was a reseller, he would have access to this module which would list his customers' bills. He could process them in batch or schedule them as recurring. He could override their pricing or "re-configurate" their orders
* plans and products module
If he were a reseller, this is where he would build his plans and products which would appear in his configurator. In essence, his account might have all the capabilities of your account. You could give him his own templated web site, configurator, etc which would automatically be created when his account was created.
* server group manager module
there are two layers of server managements: server groups and servers. Let's say you owned 10 servers. You could allocate these servers into groups any way you wish, including mirroring two servers so there is redundant backup. Each server group can have its own indicators, usage threshold levels. You can set up fallback order, etc.
* server manager module (control panel)
this would be the functional equivalent of cpanel, where you control a server and its underlying services and monitor its health.
* user account manager
you or your clients (if you offer them this functionality) can create multiple accounts and assign privileges. So you can have support people that log in directly to the support ticket module. You can have a billing person that can only access the accounts receivable module. A sysadmin that can only get into a particular server or server group.
* client manager
this is where clients are created, modified, assigned rights, etc. For instance, you can allow your clients to have their own support ticket module and give them the right to give their clients their own support module, etc. You can give your clients the right to have their own templated hosting site and also give their customers the right to get templated hosting sites. It is like a giant pyramid of users slicing up the resources provided to each level of reseller.
* email manager module
this is a web based email account. Email can be interfaced into the support ticket module such that an email address (ie, sales) could automatically create a sales ticket. Each user you create on your account can have their own email address and access their email through this module.
* mass mailer module
this is where you can send mass emails to your clients. If you give them the right, then they can send emails to their clients as well, ad infinitum until a client is no longer given the rights to this module.
* reporting module
this is where you could view dozens of different reports regarding your business. Since all the data is in one program, these reports can be comprehensive and detailed, to the point of generating profit and loss statements or listings of profit per customers or customer acquistion rate, estimations, etc.
There are other modules I would hope to add as well, but these are pretty much the basics for now.
So what do you guys think? Ambitious, I know. Anyone willing to invest with me on such a plan? I'd particularly be interested in hooking up with someone in Southern California who is familiar with software sales and marketing and has money to help with startup funds. Or perhaps there is a middle-sized or larger hosting company out there that would be interested in sponsoring part of the development cost of this project. They could become the best customer and also own part of the company. That would be nice way to diverisfy or expand in the marketplace.
Doing my own programming here Coming out of my own Pockets. I might have one or 2 investors but for the most part its my own money, my own idea, my own interests and no 3rd party interest and no 3rd party telling me well we need to use .. because ...