Another hobby of mine: servers
One of my other hobbies (for quite a while) has been monkeying around with hardware. Years ago, I used to always be changing the hardware in my computer, planning a new system, etc. I used to try to buy low, sell high, and basically would replace something in my computer every few months.
That all pretty much came to a halt once I started a full-time job. When your computer is your bread and butter, you don't want to deal with the downtime involved with rebuilding your OS whenever you replace motherboards, or the reliability when experimenting with different hardware. So at that time, it started shifting more towards servers and server management. For a long time, I had a server colocated with this idea "I can do some hosting for others then so it will cost me less." The problem? (1) Never got around to getting everything setup for that kind of thing, (2) I like control over my server, wary of giving just anybody access to stuff. So it never happened, and a while ago, I pulled the server from colocation.
At one point, I had this grand idea of doing a hosting business, though luckily, I eventually woke up. Reality is that hosting is a low profit, high support, cut-throat market. Your average user (not necessarily all) expects top-tier support for dirt cheap prices, and they will drop you at any point just to save a buck. There are users who realize you get what you pay for, but even then, the hosting market is huge, and while there is plenty of room, it doesn't necessarily make it easy to differentiate unless you make a full go at it, and reality is I prefer working at Telligent.
But I still have this server hobby...
Thus, it brings me to my latest way of handling it. Virtual servers. Virtual servers are great... split a single larger server into multiple smaller ones, everyone gets to do their own thing. As a whole, virtual servers cost more (since they give you more). You have fewer people per box (so less individuals to deal with) and higher income per customer. Additionally, if you price it right, you get a better crowd. Your "average user" doesn't need a VPS and wouldn't pay for one. Higher end people often like virtual servers though. These are you techie people who know what they're doing, want more control than shared hosting, and are willing to pay a bit more for it. Since they are techies, they don't really need any support other than getting access to it. Other than that, they can pretty much handle themselves.
So where do I come in? I've recently setup a virtual server hosting a series of machines that I can sell out to others. Benefit to others is that it is a very nice box, with low population (most hosts squeeze on as many as they can to the detriment of others), and without the price of a lot of other hosts (I don't do 24x7 phone support or any of that crap, so don't need to charge for it). The benefit to me is that it supports my server hobby.
Where do you come in? I am probably going to have a few slots open for virtual servers and will offer them for sale. But there are a few things to lay out.
- Not doing it as a regular business where the more customers the merrier. Once I am where I want to be, not taking any more.
- This is in no way, shape form, similar galaxy, or anything having to do with Telligent itself. There is no special CS support because I am on the CS team. If it is a server issue, I'll address it, if it is common issue, I'll make a suggestion, if it beyond that, post on the CS forums.
- Say again, no 24x7 support, or anything. And I'd tell people to look elsewhere if I don't feel I can support them they way they want to be and the way I want to.
- Cheaper doesn't mean cheap. I'd said can offer similar virtual servers for less, but that doesn't mean really cheap. Having things like lower support saves money, but having a low server population, quality hardware, and a premium datacenter add a few bucks. The "get what you pay for" rule still applies. Sure, you don't get a ton of support, but thus far, I've been finding the quality of service to be beyond your common offer. Just ask.
When will I be selling my remaining virtual server slots? Once I get all the wrinkles ironed out. Even though I gave myself 2-3 weeks to get the box set up, and it has been hosted for about a week and a half, still a few minor annoyances to correct and automate (ie, copying IIS logs to SmarterStats, automatically adding domains to the spam filter, etc). Once I am ready, I think I will only have about 5 virtual servers available.