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Old
  Post #1 (permalink)   07-10-2007, 04:32 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
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Status: matojo2006 is offline
Hi,

I am trying to get into reseller hosting business, with the base of around 45,000 existing free hosting members. Even though I have lot of existing free hosting members, I have absolutely no previous experience in reseller business.

Here is some background: Two years back, I decided to start a free hosting service with support for ASP.NET 2.0 and SQL Server 2005 Express. I hired a single server and allowed members to create websites with subdomains under our primary domain.

I was completely unaware of the "Control Panels" available in the market. So I wrote everything myself including the admin panels to manage user accounts, member websites, databases and security. I spent several weeks to develop those features and still continue to develop features and fix issues!

With the support of our other websites, we currently have around 45,000 registered members inour free hosting service. Due to the limitations of the server, we were pretty agressive to delete member accounts who violates any of our rules. We currently have only 5000 or less active sites, while others are very interested to resume their hosting account.

Our hosting service is currently free with no Ads on member sites. We make money from Google AdSense on our own site (user's control panel).

We have reached the limits of our current server. We cannot scale beyond this since my custom control panel does not support multiple servers and I am tired of managing member accounts through this.

I like to expand our business and hire several servers to allow our 45,000 members and future members to host free websites. But I do not want to invest huge money to begin with. I like to hire 1 server with professional control panels and other standard hosting features. I will move my high profile members first and then the rest step by step. The new service will offer Ad supported hosting and continue to support ASP.NET, SQL Server Express, custom domain names etc.

Until 1-2 months back, I was completely un aware of the terms "Control Panel" and "Reseller hosting". Now I started reading about them and have lot of questions. I am here looking for some guidance from you all !

With my current server, I spent most of my time securing the member sites from other members. I wrote my custom tools to configure security for each member so that he does not have access to critical system files and other member's resources. Windows was tired of my custom rules and configuration!!

1. Does the control panels provide any built in mechanism for configuring the security? If I create a new user account through the contrl panel (Helm, CPanel, Plesk etc), is the user automatically configured with appropriate security levels?

2. Does the control panels have features to process billing (I am considering future plans of paid hosting)

3. Do you have any suggestions which control panel I have to buy?

4. Do I need SSL to use control panels? I saw a demo of Helm which asks for SSL based URLs.

5. Do I need firewalls? Is shared firewall a compromise on security ?

6. Which is the best data center I can go for ?

7. How many (small) sites I can host on a server? 100 ? 1000 ? 10000 ?

8. Is there any products available in the market to offer 'Ad supported hosting' ?

Any help and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

- Matojo
 
 
 


Old
  Post #2 (permalink)   07-16-2007, 06:57 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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Hey Matojo.

I think you should invest in a Cpanel/WHM Linux server. Basically there are 2 control panels setup... The reseller admin gets to use a panel called WHM. You might want to look it up and try the demo out. It's really easy to use and helps with creating accounts for users.

Cpanel as I'm sure you heard of is pretty much a customer favourite these days. I'm sure if you offered Cpanel, many people would want to sign up.

Quote:
. Does the control panels provide any built in mechanism for configuring the security? If I create a new user account through the contrl panel (Helm, CPanel, Plesk etc), is the user automatically configured with appropriate security levels?
Yes, WHM does this if you have a reseller account.

Quote:
2. Does the control panels have features to process billing (I am considering future plans of paid hosting)
I think the newer WHM has some integretion for payments. I'm not 100%, since I've never experiences the billing side of it, however I've had people tell me it's integratable with a payment proccesor. Mabye someone can clear that up for you here.

Quote:
3. Do you have any suggestions which control panel I have to buy?
WHM/Cpanel, most reseller hosting accounts offer it.

Quote:
4. Do I need SSL to use control panels? I saw a demo of Helm which asks for SSL based URLs.
Cpanel and WHM, automatically will redirect you to a safe SSL url.

Quote:
5. Do I need firewalls? Is shared firewall a compromise on security ?
If you have reseller hosting, the server manager would have firewalls already installed on the server.

Quote:
6. Which is the best data center I can go for ?
Do some research on the forums, theres TONS of good places. Just look around for good reviews and prices.

Quote:
7. How many (small) sites I can host on a server? 100 ? 1000 ? 10000 ?
That really depends.. what each customer is hosting.. and how much traffic they recieve. Usually I just added on customers, till I noticed a slow down. After that, unless it was someone abusing the server with emails etc.. I'd get a new reseller on another server, rather a 2nd account.

Quote:
8. Is there any products available in the market to offer 'Ad supported hosting' ?
hmmm.. I'm sure there is since I've seen some ad hosting businesses create accounts, which automatically place ads on the top of any page. However, if your using google adsense, channels would help identify all sites.

Hope this helps you out a bit more. If you have more questions feel free to let us know.

All the best of luck.
 
 
 


Old
  Post #3 (permalink)   07-21-2007, 10:49 AM
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Another thing I would recommnd is an help system ticket or live theres lots of usefull posts on software on this site, if you have the php or programming know how build it yourself, something we have done, its more built with our branding.

John
 
 
 


Old
  Post #4 (permalink)   07-21-2007, 11:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixnetHost
Another thing I would recommnd is an help system ticket or live theres lots of usefull posts on software on this site, if you have the php or programming know how build it yourself, something we have done, its more built with our branding.

John
I would go with the prebuilt stuff first and than move over to your own. 1) because you don't know what you'll need at first and 2) because it can take a long time to develop something before its ready to go.
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Old
  Post #5 (permalink)   08-07-2007, 08:55 AM
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I would advise that you look at this guide, http://www.resellerguide.com/ its a very useful guide that I have seen recommend on quite a few boards, and I had a quick read.

Good Luck with you venture.
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Old
  Post #6 (permalink)   08-07-2007, 09:05 AM
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Another good site is hostpapers.com
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Old
  Post #7 (permalink)   09-02-2007, 09:10 AM
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Since you are a good Windows geek. You should try the Plesk for Windows Plan. Its got 4 levels of entry...
1) admin
2) reseller
3) end-user
4) domain ctrl'er

I think you can build your own modules (using APIs) to automate your hosting platform.

All the best.
 
 
 


Old
  Post #8 (permalink)   09-04-2007, 08:37 AM
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I think you really worked hard. You have 45,000 free clients, that's really great. If your turn over is 10 percent at the beginning, then you are having 450 clients at the beginning itself. I think you have a very good future. I have started my reselling career with just 4 clients. All the best you lucky fellow.
 
 
 


Old
  Post #9 (permalink)   12-27-2007, 06:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kothar64 View Post
I think you really worked hard. You have 45,000 free clients, that's really great. If your turn over is 10 percent at the beginning, then you are having 450 clients at the beginning itself. I think you have a very good future. I have started my reselling career with just 4 clients. All the best you lucky fellow.
I agree. I would keep your existing control panel as it seems like you put alot of effort into it. You can buy a managed server from many places.
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  Post #10 (permalink)   01-24-2008, 08:27 AM
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Fully managed servers are useful in it.
 
 
 


Old
  Post #11 (permalink)   02-05-2008, 03:52 AM
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Or a semi-dedi as a variant.
 
 
 


Old
  Post #12 (permalink)   03-02-2008, 08:45 AM
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any good VPS can show to matojo2006 ?
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  Post #13 (permalink)   03-05-2008, 03:44 PM
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Do some research on managed windows hosting solutions (there a few companies out that can help), run plesk on the server you choose and get a good billing system like WHMCS to manage your clients.
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Old
  Post #14 (permalink)   03-08-2008, 07:29 PM
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I would be cautious about having a billing system integrated with the control panel. I know that Helm has a built-in billing feature; but the problem there is that if you start using that, you're either tied to Helm for the rest of your life, or if you ever switch it will be a bugbear.

I have always been of the mind to have my billing system, site CMS, and control panel separate. They work with each other, but I can change one without *having* to change all three. It gives me more flexibility.

In answer to some of your questions:

1. both Plesk and CPanel can be configured to "jail" a user's account so that a user can access system libraries and resources, but cannot access another user's account space. I don't doubt that other control panels do this, as well - but I have actual experience using both Plesk and CPanel, so those are the only two I mentioned.

2. Helm runs on Windows, and does have integrated billing - but see my previous recommendations about keeping billing and customer management separate from control panel software. (Your mileage may vary.)

3. For ease of use by end clients, I prefer CPanel, followed by Plesk. However, as CPanel doesn't run on Windows currently, I think Plesk will be a better fit for your situation.

4. SSL certs are not required to use CPanel - just advice to the clients that the error dialog is expected, there will (of course) be no secure certificate for their domain control panel, just click "accept" and log in. I don't know about Plesk or Helm - I leave that up to the folks who administer the servers. Ask the control panel vendors, and they may be able to clear this one up for you.

5. I don't know. Another question for folks who are more hands-on with server administration.

6. That depends. I personally look for a datacenter that has more than one location, that has an excellent disaster recovery plan (for their clients as well as for themselves, if you plan to co-locate), that has been around for a while, and that has the capacity to handle growth quickly and efficiently.

7. That depends on the server's capacity and your clients' requirements. If you have a bunch of clients whose disk space and bandwidth usage is fairly stable from month to month, it will be easier to figure out how many people can go on that particular server before it gets bogged down. Again, if you have three dynamically generated sites with huge amounts of traffic, they may need access to more resources than, say, 50 accounts with static pages, some image galleries, and not a lot of traffic.

8. I don't know. I've seen people asking about that, but I've never offered free hosting or placed ads on my clients' sites, so have never researched it that much.
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Old
  Post #15 (permalink)   05-15-2008, 08:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lesli View Post
I would be cautious about having a billing system integrated with the control panel. I know that Helm has a built-in billing feature; but the problem there is that if you start using that, you're either tied to Helm for the rest of your life, or if you ever switch it will be a bugbear.

I have always been of the mind to have my billing system, site CMS, and control panel separate. They work with each other, but I can change one without *having* to change all three. It gives me more flexibility.

In answer to some of your questions:

1. both Plesk and CPanel can be configured to "jail" a user's account so that a user can access system libraries and resources, but cannot access another user's account space. I don't doubt that other control panels do this, as well - but I have actual experience using both Plesk and CPanel, so those are the only two I mentioned.

2. Helm runs on Windows, and does have integrated billing - but see my previous recommendations about keeping billing and customer management separate from control panel software. (Your mileage may vary.)

3. For ease of use by end clients, I prefer CPanel, followed by Plesk. However, as CPanel doesn't run on Windows currently, I think Plesk will be a better fit for your situation.

4. SSL certs are not required to use CPanel - just advice to the clients that the error dialog is expected, there will (of course) be no secure certificate for their domain control panel, just click "accept" and log in. I don't know about Plesk or Helm - I leave that up to the folks who administer the servers. Ask the control panel vendors, and they may be able to clear this one up for you.

5. I don't know. Another question for folks who are more hands-on with server administration.

6. That depends. I personally look for a datacenter that has more than one location, that has an excellent disaster recovery plan (for their clients as well as for themselves, if you plan to co-locate), that has been around for a while, and that has the capacity to handle growth quickly and efficiently.

7. That depends on the server's capacity and your clients' requirements. If you have a bunch of clients whose disk space and bandwidth usage is fairly stable from month to month, it will be easier to figure out how many people can go on that particular server before it gets bogged down. Again, if you have three dynamically generated sites with huge amounts of traffic, they may need access to more resources than, say, 50 accounts with static pages, some image galleries, and not a lot of traffic.

8. I don't know. I've seen people asking about that, but I've never offered free hosting or placed ads on my clients' sites, so have never researched it that much.
Thanks for such a detailed reply.
 
 
 
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