Providers - Let's talk about panels.

Discussion in 'Coding, Scripting & Programming' started by scv, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. scv

    scv Massive Nerd Verified Provider

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    scv
    Now that alternatives to SolusVM are both coming onto the market and being developed in-house providers are starting to make the migration. This also gives us access to a whole new world of opportunities including better integration into your environment.

    My question to all other providers are pretty simple.

    • What features are you especially interested in that available panels are lacking? This is inclusive of things expanding away from virtualization, such as network and storage integration.
    • Following the integration theme: billing integration. WHMCS is showing its true colors with the recent rash of publicized vulnerabilities. BuyVM is making the switch to a billing system integrated into their management panel - are other providers looking to do the same?
    • Network integration. We get the option to do centralized usage tracking, complex routing and firewalling, etc. What are your networks like?
    • What sort of alternative resource models are you interested in? Most available systems use resource templates - is there any interest in offering pooled resource plans? What about "cloud-like" billing (by the <insert-time-period>)?
    • What do your clients request that isn't available in your current systems?
    Now I'm sure many of you are interested in keeping your ideas and implementations to yourselves, but my purpose here is to try and idealize the demands of the general provider community. If we can come together and build a feature set filling the needs of the community dealing with crud like SolusVM and WHMCS can finally be a thing of the past. Our customers should expect secure and reliable facilities from their providers, and with poorly implemented closed systems like these we can't guarantee that to our customers.
     
  2. drmike

    drmike 100% Tier-1 Gogent

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    Not a provider, but....

    Folks ought to be looking at deep integration.  No 3 logins per client crap.   Put billing and ticketing and controls for accounts/servers in one panel.

    If I were a provider I'd stop riding the software gravy train.   I'd either take some open source and make it my own or I'd write my own from ground up.

    Is that more secure?  Maybe.     

    This popularity approach to life mean mass casualties when a problem happens.  It's many companies getting dinged with WHMCS, ditto for Solus.   People on obscure panels, ehh unless they get mighty big, who is going to bother?

    Problem is no one wants to engineer a damn thing anymore.
     
    fisle likes this.
  3. peterw

    peterw New Member

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    Not a provider too but two features I am missing:

    First internal network. I don't want to use vpn or iptables to run backend services on a public ip.

    Second virtual routers or loadbalancers. Owning a pool of internal and external ips and the possibility to direct them to one of my vps.
     
    drmike likes this.
  4. Francisco

    Francisco Company Lube Verified Provider

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    The biggest problem with billing is some places have VAT, some don't. Some have other local taxes, etc, so that all has to be taken into consideration. You have to support fraud systems and easily able to add new ones. You need the countless gateways and all of their silly validation/callback controls. You need the panel integration as well as domain controls too.

    While building your own billing panel can be an amazing thing to accomplish, it's simply something that isn't easy. A lot of hosts these days also have shared/reseller hosting so they'd need module support for cpanel/plesk/etc.

    Billing is a whole different kind of beast compared to a VPS panel. There's only so many controls available to bring into a VPS panel, where as billing is just.....ugly. Yes, we're looking at writing our own but even if we did it as a separate system, it'd still never be easy to market because it'd be built to support what we need.

    WHMCS is the ugly hill billy cow with 4 teeth and she uses 1 of them to crack her beers. The problem is she has a hole perfect for each and every one of her suitors. Now that I've ruined your ability to eat today think about it some and you'll realize it's not far off.

    Both WHMCS and SolusVM charged so little from the get go there's no meat left on the bone for new alternatives. While some people are rushing to blesta, it's a matter of time before someone finds a ;1=1 that grants admin, dumps the database, & nukes a server in one call.

    Francisco
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2013
  5. drmike

    drmike 100% Tier-1 Gogent

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    +1 for the Stallion team making fun of WHMCS --- describing it as a slutty hillbilly cow :)  Funnnnnyyyy!

    This stuff isn't rocket science.  It's honest work.   A team of developers inside of a year could crank something out that would compete head on no problems.

    When you speak of VAT + Tax + other foolish crap, hey, modules are the route for that.   I'd rather see something lean and mean and ready for reality than the slutty cow soft that does ho hum.

    Remember there are accounting and inventory packages out there for industries far more complicated :)
     
  6. Damian

    Damian New Member Verified Provider

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    When we moved to all-in-one integration with billing, we had several people cancel because they "didn't like logging in to billing to manage their product", basically. We didn't really get any praise for doing the integration, so there's been quite a disparity of people who didn't like it versus people who did like it. 

    On the other hand, as things like this progress and we all stop buying other people's software, as providers we'll have to work to overcome this stigma that everything should be separate.

    Isn't that the damn truth. All of the meat for our panel is built and in operation, I'm just having an unbelievably hard time getting any effort by anyone else put into building the frontend.
     
    drmike, HalfEatenPie and scv like this.
  7. ComputerTrophy

    ComputerTrophy New Member

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    I love it when providers heavily integrate their system with WHMCS or their billing panel; having everything in one place is convenient. Check out Backomatic for an example: http://backomatic.com/
     
  8. RiotSecurity

    RiotSecurity New Member

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    I'm not a provider, but I say fuck all these big name panels, you know what makes me happy? SSH w/ VIM.
     
  9. HalfEatenPie

    HalfEatenPie The Irrational One Retired Staff

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    No way!  Holy cow!  It'd be fantastic if we all can pay our bills and manage each system simply from using SSH and VIM!  It'd also be awesome if we could get shared hosting people who where totally 1337 with CLI so we can ditch this entire "design" thing we have to deal with.  GUIs?  Pffff.  More like GULame!  

    Edit: Actually on topic here.  Integrating everything and doing it well is a great thing.  I've seen several great WHMCS + everything integration that it's difficult to even tell it was WHMCS and not a custom-programmed system.  I've also seen pretty horrible integration jobs.  ModuleGarden being one of them.  
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 13, 2013
    scv likes this.
  10. mojeda

    mojeda New Member

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    Not a provider but 2-Factor authentication would be nice.
     
  11. NodeBytes

    NodeBytes Dedi Addict

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    WHMCS supports 2 factor...
     
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  12. mojeda

    mojeda New Member

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    TIL. Turns out some providers don't have it enabled or added... *cough* buyvm *cough* :p
     
  13. NodeBytes

    NodeBytes Dedi Addict

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    They can enable on a client by client database. It's just a checkbox for the client. :)

    Edit: If you want to give it a try PM me and you can sign up on my WHMCS install and test to see if it works. :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 14, 2013
  14. peterw

    peterw New Member

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    ssh [email protected] -l mycreditcard -p buyvm ???
     
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  15. SonicVPS

    SonicVPS New Member Verified Provider

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    It takes a lot of time and is a massive investment to make your own panel, then publicly releasing it is different altogether. You also need a team to provide the support too - the resources that go in to this climb very quickly.

    As Francisco mentions, a billing panel is different to a VPS panel and requires other expertise, not just a system administrator/programmer but you'll need external contacts in accounting to get it to work to specific standards.

    We had our VPS panel developed within ~6 months. The next 6 months was purely testing or adding extra features to automate what we wanted it to do. When you get to this stage, it really is a bliss and allows you to operate your business on another level. You need a feature? You add it there and then. We've been using it internally for 2 months and have had not one user complain about it or needed an extra feature implemented.

    It's quite feature complete with WHMCS module and SolusVM import script all ready to go:

    http://hostguard.net/screens.html

    I'm pointing out after going through all this, true integration isn't possible unless someone out there provides an all-in-one solution (they do exist) but then you need to resources to have clear focus, otherwise things get neglected.
     
    drmike likes this.
  16. splitice

    splitice Just a little bit crazy... Verified Provider

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    As someone who wrote my own billing panel (due to deficiencies in WHMCS) I can tell you, its not easy. And its not enjoyable development unlike working on a VPS Panel etc.

    It would be even harder to develop it for a wider audience, different taxation systems and requirements for record keeping is just one example of a problem I can think of currently.

    Developing your own in-house for your needs is more doable though, especially if you already use external tools for your book keeping etc.
     
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  17. drmike

    drmike 100% Tier-1 Gogent

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    How often were the complainers logging in to manage anything?

    There are two different issues there....  1. They might not like how the panel works vs. old solution.   2. They might be confused about billing being the admin area (those would be dyed in wool OpenVZ+Solus customers I bet).

    I wouldn't let that deter you.   If you are still doing this integration let me know.  Will short list your company for buying.  I like alt panels and diversity.
     
  18. Pete M.

    Pete M. New Member Verified Provider

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    How long did it take you to write it? Did you code it in PHP?
     
  19. splitice

    splitice Just a little bit crazy... Verified Provider

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    I don't really have a timeframe for total development. Its still "under development" in many ways (its not 1:1 with WHMCS, the functionality we need works). Its integrated with our service panel, so even if I knew how long the original release took (2 developers for roughly 3-6mo I think) it wouldn't be accurate.

    We added support tickets after the original release (apparently people dislike email support) and that took ~24 hours to add on. But alot of that would come down to requirements, quality of base implementation and the framework you work with.

    EDIT: And yes, its PHP.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 16, 2013
  20. Adduc

    Adduc New Member

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    Are there any panels in open development using unit testing?