I apologise in advance for both the number of questions below and the overall length of this post. If the answers to some of them seem painfully obvious or the questions come across as a little strong then I am sorry, but I have learnt from experience to clarify the fine print before I start quoting my credit card details to a company that I've never dealt with before
I'm interested in a VPS/VDS server with the below specifications and requirements. We are going to be onselling hosting to end users and will not be offering reseller plans to other wouldbe providers. I want customers, not competitors.
256 MB Guaranteed RAM / Max ?
6GB Disk / 100GB Transfer
WHM/cPanel Pro with Fantastico Deluxe (Must be WHM/cPanel and preferably latest stable build. Open to options on script installers as I know there are a few out there, but not interested in DirectAdmin, Plesk etc)
Full Root access to system and WHM, including SSH
Okay, here goes with the additional questions.
1. How long have you been doing this for ? Are you a one man band (Don't have a huge problem with this, as we are a two person company and still work for a living, at least for now), a small company with a few employees or some huge US hosting company that I've never heard of (I'm in Australia, so your brand may not jump out at me as being instantly recognisable)
2. What kind of machine will it be sitting on and what kind of share of the CPU can I expect, min and max ?
3. What sort of connectivity does the machine have ? Do you own the datacentre, are you co-lo, are you branding and reselling someone else's offering ?
4. When it comes to server backups, what method is used, what frequency are they done and how long is each backup kept for ? (If it breaks, I want to be sure that me and my customers are going to get everything back)
5. Needs to be at least semi-managed. (ie, I don't need you to hold my hand logging in to a shell and how to type 'ls' or do basic script installations, but if there is a serious OS/cPanel security issue or routine upgrade to be applied, then the most I want to have to do is log a support docket. Ideally, you should be telling me about vulnerabilities, as a secure system is just as important to you as it is to me)
6. Remote reboot capability, and if not available a minimum commitment on when support can respond to a server crash.
7. Unlimited domains, addons, sub-domains etc (All the usual stuff, goes without saying)
8. The possibility of having some cPanel skins packaged in, either up front or at a later date (I can't stand the default X skin, but I'll deal with it initially to keep costs down. I'm not going to pay a ridiculous amount just to make it look pretty, so this should be purely optional. I'll buy it later on if you don't provide it, can't package it or it's going to cost too much)
9. What support avenues do you have and when are they available ? (If a custom script we installed breaks I understand that it's not your problem and would expect a reasonable
charge for support if requested. If the mail server breaks just because it feels like it, once I've restarted the daemon, rebooted the VPS and done all the other regular troubleshooting stuff, is it still going to be my problem or can I log a docket ? If the server fails and needs all it's hard drives replaced, it's great that you've got my data backed up but how long until the server is repaired ? Also, 24/7 email support is only meaningful if there is someone there to respond to it. I know I can send them 24/7, but if you aren't going to be there to read it in a reasonable time frame, then don't offer it; I just need to know what to expect before
I have a problem)
10. IP to test ping for the actual
server that it would be provisioned on. (My current reseller pings at 260ms to their site and 290ms to mine. When you are pinging in excess of 200ms to US sites, those extra 30ms make a big difference in overall performance; remember, I'm located in Australia. This can be made available later if you don't want to provide one up front for security reasons)
11. Please note that I'm not terribly interested in things like free merchant accounts and nifty domain registration deals. Being in Australia makes the merchant accounts useless and I need .au TLD's for my customers, so only local domain registrars are of any use to me and I already have one of those that doesn't require up front deposits (Unless you know of someone that I don't)
And for those of you that frequent more than just this request board, note the following new questions.
12. Can you provide uptime statistics, and are they available from some kind of publicly accessible service ?
13. What don't
you allow on your servers ? ie, irc etc. (Not particularly concerned about adult. I don't think I want that customer segment either)
14. Do you offer a money back guarantee of any kind ? and if so on what terms ?
Bear in mind that we are a brand new company so we don't have money to throw away. That being said, in the last week and a half I have visited in excess of a thousand web sites comparing plans and options, and have narrowed that down to a short list of maybe 5 possible providers.
Fantastic introductory offers are meaningless if you are going to take an arm and both legs to add more RAM, disk space or transfer later. ie don't tease me with an awesome deal over and above what you would normally offer just to get me on your books, and then quote your standard pricing or more when I need to upgrade. If you're going to do me a deal now, then do me a deal later. Initial upgrades would most likely be an additional IP for a private SSL cert, double the RAM, then more space, then bandwith, and probably in that order.
Please forgive my ranting, but I've already wasted enough money this week. The shared reseller hosting account that we currently have elsewhere we only signed up for after comparing plans more plans than I can remember, and now that I realise a shared plan isn't going to cut it for what we want we have no upgrade path available to us with our current supplier.
I don't need miracles, just options for the future. We are planning to grow after all and I'd like to choose a single provider now and stay with them for the long haul because you came through with the service and support that you sold me in the first place. That's why the spanish inquisition above...
Initially I'd like to try and keep things around US $30-35 a month until we can get a few customers under our belt (AUD conversion rates suck). Maybe I'm asking too much but I know it's not impossible as I've seen a few plans out there that come close. Please feel free to give it your best shot though and we can talk from there. I would prefer you to post in the forum but if you are going to go out of your way PM me if you feel it is necessary.
You've come this far, make me an offer...