Time Flies, or How I Really Need To Post More

Written by Admin

Has it really been nearly 8 years since my last post? Hard to remember what a crazy time that was with Heartbleed. I really need to be better about cross posting things that go out via email or other methods, that are of public interest. So much has happened since then. Time gets away from you pretty quickly. Especially these past 2 years with all the craziness of the pandemic. We have a lot going on here at serve-you.net, so this will be the first post of at least 2 in the very near future.

About a year and a half ago, we made the decision to drop cPanel due to their sketchy policies around licensing, in favor of DirectAdmin. cPanel had been acquired about a year earlier by a capital investment group called Oakley Capital, under their sub group of WebPros. WebPros also owns, Plesk, SolusVM, and a few other hosting related companies. Oakley itself even owns some hosting companies. As any business, they’re in it to make money, and you can’t fault them for that. At the end of the day, that’s where their best interests lie, not with their end users, whom they’re trying to bleed dry.

So far, we’ve been very pleased with that choice. DA is so much less bloated and streamlined, while still providing the things we expect of a control panel. They’ve been super responsive to community feedback, as they got a massive influx of users from cPanel. They almost instantly added many features/actions, that we felt were missing. We can only hope that they continue down this road, and don’t get swallowed up by WebPros as well. Which brings us to the next topic…

Around the same time cPanel changed their licensing model, they also announced that their parent company WebPros had fully acquired WHMCS, which is our longtime billing/customer management platform. This wasn’t a terribly big surprise, as cPanel had invested in, and was working very closely with WHMCS for several years prior. On the surface, this wasn’t a bad thing, as it brought tighter integration, which at first was for the good. However, more and more things started popping up in both of these platforms, for them to make revenue off of our users. It became very clear that their priorities did not align with ours (the collective hosting community). Bug fixes, important feature requests, and other requests from the community go untouched for years.

As if that weren’t bad enough, they too started making a series of adjustments to their licensing policies, by charging more for their annual maintenance/support contract (which became semi-annual for more $$), and finally resulting in them completely cutting off all of us longtime “lifetime” license holders. They claim that this is not the case, and that we can continue to use it forever, but without upgrades or support… 🙄 This is billing software, and with their history of security, there’s no chance I’d ever run it without updating! Our only option given was to switch to a monthly subscription model, which at the minimum, would cost 2.5x what we were paying on an annual basis for the “support and maintenance” contract (the support of which, we rarely use, or find particularly useful as of late). And I’d also like to point out that we’re small potatoes over here. We don’t have thousands of clients like some of the bigger hosting providers. Their increases are MUCH higher. Like, several 100% higher in some cases.

Their reasoning behind this being that they can’t afford to support us with the meager amount of monies we pay them. Also, that “you can afford it. It’s a small percentage of your income per user”. It costs them nothing more or less, the number of users a company has using their software. We host and maintain the entire infrastructure behind it. They provide a piece of software, that is the same for you as it is for me, regardless of our intended use. They’re basically just reaching into the pockets of every hosting provider using their software, because they can. If you let them, that is.

They say that this move will allow them to do all the things they should’ve been doing with the money they’ve been taking for years, and providing nothing in return for. I’m sure there are customers of theirs that abuse their time, and take advantage of it, but I can say that most longtime users are very well versed in using their software, and require little to no support. I can probably count on 2 hands the number of tickets I’ve opened with them in 13 years, and probably one hand for the issues that weren’t related to some bug in their software. Oh and by the way, that 2.5x annual cost doesn’t get us said new support options. They want you to pay even more to get into that club.

Bye Felicia

So that leads us to today. We were fortunate enough to have purchased our last support/maintenance contract just a short time before they implemented these changes last year. We’re in the process of evaluating other vendors for our billing/automation platform, and we’re pretty close to finalizing on that. We’ll be migrating to the new platform in the coming weeks, and will finally be done with them. Until they buy up another platform we use, that is…

Until next time.