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Since CenterNetworks relaunched in late 2006, we’ve used Drupal as our content management system. I’ve been a fan of Drupal (along with a variety of other CMS systems) and selected it because I wanted a system that could expand past a simple blog. Last week, I switched CenterNetworks to utilize the WordPress CMS and I’d like to share some of my thoughts regarding the change.
I’d like to first thank several people who have helped tremendously in the conversion and post-conversion efforts. They include Terry Smith, Zach and Rob La Gesse from Mosso, Matt Cutts from Google and Mark Jaquith. Each of them went way above-and-beyond to help me and I very much appreciate their effort.
When Matt Mullenweg provided a demo of WordPress 2.7 last year in NYC, I immediately fell in love with the administration control panel. The admin panel has been one of my biggest frustrations with Drupal. The Drupal admin feels like it was developed by a developer while the WordPress admin feels like it was developed by an end-user. With thousands of posts, it was just difficult to manage. We have a variety of excellent contributors and I’d love to be able to let them post their own stories but never was able to get it working in Drupal. Actually I could have easily created an account for each contributor but the usability was at a point that I feared that their stories might never get posted correctly.
Mosso, Rackspace’s cloud hosting division has announced a new partnership with Limelight Networks today that allows Mosso customers to use Limelight’s content delivery network (CDN). Mosso notes that, "this union brings unlimited online storage, scalable content delivery, and application acceleration services, thereby allowing businesses to more easily and affordably distribute content to millions of end users around the world."
If you are new to CDN services, the simple concept is that servers are placed around the world and depending on where you are located, you get served via the closest or most appropriate server. CDNs cut down on the hops back and forth to handle a request.
Mosso’s pricing for Cloud Files with CDN starts at 15 cents per gigabyte of storage and 22 cents per gigabyte of bandwidth from any edge location around the globe. Stored files can be up to 5gb in size. Apparently you can activate the CDN service on any file by accessing it via the Mosso admin control panel. It makes sense for large video and audio files along with large volume sites.
As many of you know, we are hosted on Mosso. Mosso has continued to improve reliability and customer service since we joined back in March. However, when I see deals like this I get excited for the possibilities but wish that they would spend more time making Mosso work like a normal webhost. There are several items including IP addresses referrals (every user looks the same) that just don’t work right and cause big issues when trying to process users appropriately.
Last month Mosso/Rackspace announced their cloud computing strategy.
Hosting company Rackspace has announced that they have acquired Slicehost and Jungle Disk today. Rackspace also has launched their overall cloud computing strategy at an event in Austin. In addition, Mosso, our host, has been renamed to "Rackspace Cloud Hosting". Here are the details on the cloud computing strategy for Rackspace:
- Cloud Sites– Rackspace’s flagship cloud offering, The Hosting Cloud, is now Cloud Sites. Developed by Mosso, Rackspace’s cloud division, it offers a scalable platform for handling huge traffic spikes and a pay-as-you-grow pricing model. Cloud Sites is a heterogeneous environment, supporting both Windows and Linux.
- Cloud Files — Rackspace’s internet-based storage service, CloudFS, is now Cloud Files. Cloud Files gives developers instant access to an enterprise-grade storage infrastructure and reduces overall investment and IT costs while providing infinite scalability. Cloud Files offers an industry leading SLA and a highly competitive pricing model with replicated storage starting at $0.15/GB. Also later this year, Limelight Networks will team with Rackspace to allow developers to easily distribute content to millions of end users around the world and bring scalable content delivery and application acceleration services to the masses. While continuing to support the Amazon S3 platform, Jungle Disk will port to Rackspace’s Cloud Files system in the coming months. Jungle Disk comes in both desktop and workgroup editions across the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.
- Cloud Servers — This new hosting solution, which will deliver on-demand server capacity to businesses of all sizes, will leverage key technology developed by Slicehost, which uses Xen virtualization software. Slicehost will remain as the company’s developer brand, creating innovative new features driven through shared intellectual property in conjunction with development initiatives from Rackspace. As part of the announcement, Slicehost also announced new, larger slices for high performance computing, lower prices as well as IP sharing for high availability computing.
Earlier this week, I noted on Twitter that every startup should have a press page. A page that includes: logos in multiple formats, short bio of the executives, photos of the team and/or executives, basic stats, contact information and links to other important information. Make it easy for writers to write about you. Check out my post about Peanut Labs – the logo in the post is the only size logo they have on the site. Wouldn’t it be great if I could embed a logo that was on a white background and much larger? What about including a photo of the CEO who I interviewed? Remember that you want to make it as easy as possible for someone to write about you – don’t make them do the work.
Another critical page should be a status page. This page should live outside the network of the startup and should house the current status information for the startup. I don’t care if it’s on a shared blogging platform like WordPress or SquareSpace, it’s an absolute must.
Known for it’s downtime, Twitter has no public status page. There’s a developer Google group which appears to house some of the updates when the service goes down, but nothing public and so all of the Twitter users are left wondering what’s up. If Twitter had more communication when there are unexpected issues, I think users would be more understanding.
Here’s a current example — apparently video message board Seesmic was down last evening. Investor Michael Arrington posted a semi-marketing, semi-rant piece about the downtime where he explains how important communication is between service and its partners. I assume when Mike speaks about his company’s usage of Seesmic, he is actually referring to the 800+ sites using the tool (weren’t they down as well???). Last week, Seesmic partnered with Disqus to push the Seesmic video commenting tool to any sites using Disqus’ blog comment replacement tool. I suggested that it was too soon for a major partnership. The unfortunate thing is that so far CEO Loic LeMeur hasn’t posted about what happened, why it happened and what is being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Loic did note that he is working to make sure "it" doesn’t happen again.
As soon as you notice there is an issue, stick it on the status page. It can be something as simple as, "Mooprz is currently down, we are investigating," with a timestamp and a contact form. Once the issue has been resolved, note that as well. After any investigation has completed, come back with an explanation.
I know that when your product is not functioning correctly, you want to get it back working as quickly as possible. The moment you take to update the status page will keep your customers informed on what’s going on and reduce possible emails as well.
In my opinion, having a status page is a sign of trust between a company and its customers. Just make sure to put the status page outside of your network so if the network is down, the status page is still up!
Cloud hosting provider Mosso (part of Rackspace) is announcing the launch of CloudFS today in private beta. CloudFS is similar to Amazon’s S3 simple storage offering. Pricing will start at at $0.15 per gigabyte, upon release, including replicated copies for data protection. The CloudFS pricing appears to be a bit less expensive than the new Amazon S3 pricing.
One of their slides states, "No charges for incoming or outgoing bandwidth for Rackspace and Hosting Cloud customers." My guess is this means that file transfers won’t incur charges but bandwidth usage will still be charged. I have a confirmed call with Rackspace at 10am and will update this post accordingly.
CloudFS is available as both a standalone service or as part of Rackspace/Mosso hosting packages. If you want to apply for the private beta, complete the application here.
For this new file sharing service to compete with Amazon, they will need to "woo" developers over. A little bit of a cheaper price won’t be enough. Amazon recently changed their support model to offer paid premium support. With hosting being a commodity, support can be a major differentiator. While my review will come later this week (see below), so far the quality of support personnel that Rackspace/Mosso offers has been very high. I have been impressed with the knowledge, intelligence and easy-to-understand people they have on the support team.
CenterNetworks is currently using Mosso (for the past six weeks) and my review will be posted later this week. The twitter version is that the first two weeks were a complete disaster, since then it’s been solid. I’ve had good conversations with the Mosso founders over the six weeks and my review will cover everything. Grab the RSS feed to be instantly notified when the review is live.