At a time when shared hosting providers are raising their prices due to the newly introduced cPanel pricing model, we at ICDSoft once again went against the trend and lowered our managed VPS prices.
History of ICDSoft's Managed VPS Plans:
Our managed VPS plans were born out of our customer needs. We were being asked by owners of large sites who had outgrown the shared hosting resources to provide them with a “set and forget” service - a VPS solution that could handle all of their website traffic and load, without requiring additional effort or knowledge on their side. Our clients didn't want to leave us for a new company, as they were all extremely satisfied by the service we provide. Check our reviews on TrustPilot to see for yourself.
Since this service was designed around the needs of high traffic sites, the price of the managed VPS service we introduced was correspondingly high - the plans started at $299/month! At the time high prices of hardware and our dedication to use only top-of-the-line hardware dictated the high price. And, for every new production machine we bought, we had to buy two more - one backup and one spare.
New clients rarely understood the need for these plans, as it is hard to justify the high price in a simple sales pitch. Our existing clients appreciated the service, however, and the plans sold quickly:
It may not seem much (just 220 accounts, compared to our over 59,000 accounts overall), but this was a niche product with a high price.
Hardware upgrades are often cited as a reason for price "upgrades". There is reasoning behind that, they require a significant financial commitment, and occupy system administrators' time. However, there is another side - hardware upgrades allow significant optimizations due to the increased performance provided by the new hardware. Coincidentally, our upgrade cycle matched a low point in the prices of SSD drives, RAM, and CPUs.
Some VPS providers offer what is called “equivalent CPU cores”, or virtual CPUs (vCPUs). This is a nice way to say overselling – yes, the same overselling which forces many clients from overcrowded shared hosts to VPS servers in the first place, is happening in the VPS space as well. We do not oversell disk space, we do not oversell RAM, and we do not oversell CPU resources.
...Bring Price Downgrades
Since the main factor in the pricing of our managed VPS solutions was hardware, we lowered the prices for the service from $299/month, to $99/month! And we also introduced a lower-tier entry level managed VPS plan - Startup at just $49/month. This is a common theme in ICDSoft's business operation history. Whenever we find a way to optimize our expenses, we don't just keep the profits for ourselves. We transfer them to our clients as well.
Even though the previous price for the managed VPS solutions was on the high side, most of our clients using them had prepaid their accounts for many months ahead. We proceeded as we always do - we returned the difference back to clients.
The amount wasn't small, but customer satisfaction has always been on top of our priorities, and our CEO is adamant on being fair in our pricing (that's why we recently introduced a fair pricing policy for domain registrations).
In the week after the price update, we returned over $22,000 USD back to our clients.
Why aren't We Offering Unmanaged VPS
You can “spin up” a VPS with many cloud providers, for something like $5/mo. This is a great starting price for a service with which you can toy around and experiment with, but this is not a production-ready VPS. This is what you get when you first start such a machine:
The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software; the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright. Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by applicable law. You have mail. Last login: Sun Jan 27 23:26:54 2019 from 25-25-25-25.ip.admin-net.net [email protected]:~#
An empty console.
In order to build a resilient hosting infrastructure from this console, you have to:
- set up your server software stack
- fine-tune and configure your web facing services (Apache, Nginx, mod_php, FastCGI, etc.)
- create and execute a backup strategy, including the setup of remote storage
- perform regular maintenance tasks
- create rollback procedures for failed upgrades/changes
- monitor security lists for important security patches and apply them
- set up a failover procedure
- be available 24/7 to keep the infrastructure running smoothly
Tools like Docker, Kubernetes, and Ansible have made the server setup and initialization process much easier. However, unless you are a DevOps engineer with a solid experience, there is a significant learning curve for these tools. It is rare for business owners to have the time to invest in learning all the interesting new technologies. In fact, this is the reason hosting providers exist - they provide you with the infrastructure and knowledge.
Maintenance is a Chore
Maintaining the hosting infrastructure is the hardest part. Especially a few years in, when some cruft has accumulated in the projects you are running. Installing new software becomes much harder as you need to ensure it is fully backwards compatible with all the software you are running.
Testing after every update and having a smooth rollback procedures are essential.
Once you get a grasp of all these operations, which remain hidden most of the time, you will understand the higher costs associated with managed VPS services.
Pros and Cons of Managed VPS Plans
Maybe the biggest drawback of a managed VPS service is that installing custom software stacks can be more difficult, or sometimes impossible. You can't just run sudo apt install anymore.
These servers are made for work – for high reliability and performance hosting of web applications. This is why access to important parts of the system is restricted only to our system administrators.
Our Managed VPS plans are preinstalled and configured in the same way our shared hosting infrastructure is. This is a server setup that has been tested by tens of thousands of websites and on hundreds of servers.
We have made some changes, though. For example, shared hosting plans usually do not allow background (daemon) processes. This is not the case with our Managed VPS solutions. On the contrary – not only are daemon processes and port binding allowed, but we have developed an internal process supervisor mechanism ensuring that, even if it crashes for some reason, your service keeps running. Our supervising tool will automatically re-start the script on such occasions.
Migrating to VPS is Easy
All our existing clients enjoy the free migrations we offer. We can move an account/server from one machine to another (even in different data centers) completely free. Once scheduled for a convenient for the client time, the migrations are fully automated.
New customers also enjoy free migrations. As with all our hosting plans, every new customer can have a free migration performed by an experienced technician. Just ask us through one of our support channels.
Compared to shared hosting, the managed VPS solutions offer:
- Dedicated resources for high performance - even with our smallest Startup VPS plan, you will get 2x2.3 GHz dedicated CPU cores, 4 GB of dedicated RAM, and 50 GB of SSD storage.
- High availability hardware setup - quick migrations to spare hardware in case of hardware failures.
- FastCGI + OpCache + Memcached + Redis - caching technologies for quick site loading times.
- Additional system backups - we back up all data on our servers every 12 hours. For our shared plans, we keep each backup for seven days. On our Managed VPS plans, however, we keep each backup for 15 days.
- Free domain name - every server gets a free domain registration or transfer, and domain renewal for as long as the account is active.
- Free Dedicated IP address - our Managed VPS plans come with a free dedicated IP address.
- WebApps integration - an internally built supervisor service allowing the deployment and management of background daemons and services like Node.js, Django, MongoDB.
- Fast and reliable email service - our tested infrastructure serves over 100,000 mailboxes. Reusing our knowledge in the management of VPS servers allows us to offer the same high reliability for email as on our shared plans.
Check all our managed VPS offerings at our Managed SSD VPS hosting page.