Feedback on pricing

Just wanted to give feedback about pricing:

I have approx. 12 servers using Virtualmin, and Cloudmin Professional on one of those servers to manage them.

On my 12 servers, I have various amounts of domains… something like 10, 10, 80, 20, 5, 10. I dont want to put ALL domains on one server, thats crazy, eggs in one basket and all that. And some are dedicated for my customers. So it could all vary. I am using GPL on all of these servers at the moment. I guess having professional on all of them would be super expensive so I wont do it.

Why are you limiting the domains? What does it matter to you how many domains we have?

I would buy 1x Professional if I could use it on all servers, but because I cant I am buying nothing as its too expensive to have it on all servers. I dont see why limiting domains is a thing. I dont want to be in a situation where one day I need to urgently add a domain and I have to upgrade first. I also have loads of development and test domains for accounts, and its great to just add them when I want, but your plans mean I have to start thinking and planning all this if I want professional. So looks like I will have to go with GPL but then you get nothing from me even though I am happy to pay you something. Basically you do not sell a suitable service for my business. So it seems your missing out middle sized hosting companies here. I am not a one man band that needs one server, but I am not a massive company that can afford professional on all my servers. It seems I am being stung because I am providing a cautious hosting solution by spreading domains over multiple servers.

So what does it matter to you if I have 2 servers with 25 domains on each, or one server with 50? Having two servers costs me more due to Virtualmin. So what you are doing is encouraging people to have less servers to save money but that is not good for their business. If one server goes down, more of their domains go down. The sensible solution is spread domains over multiple servers, but you are asking for more money on that, even though we don’t make more money, in fact we make less money because of the server costs. I think its quite bad you are limiting domains because it discourages the recommended setup of servers.

Also, I have Cloudmin professional. I guess I need the 50 hosts for my 12 servers, but I dont understand “Up to 50 virtual machine guests on up to 50 host systems” - I have just 12 servers. whats the difference with 50 virtuamin machines and 50 hosts?


Howdy amityweb,

Thanks for your feedback! We’re trying to find a balance that allows us to make a living, work on Virtualmin/Cloudmin a whole bunch, and allows our customers to grow their business without licensing costs being a significant impediment to their goals. Customer feedback helps.

I’m gonna answer your queries in reverse, as I want to resolve the Cloudmin license confusion first:

Every Cloudmin Professional license includes support for unlimited physical Virtualmin machines. We’ve renamed the “Cloudmin for Physical Servers” to Cloudmin Connect to try to make this distinction more clear.

So, Cloudmin has two roles for most of our customers:

  1. Virtual machine management (i.e. managing KVM, Xen, LXC, OpanVZ, Zones, etc. spread across a number of host machines).
  2. Centralizing management of several Virtualmin installations.

The first use case is licensed according to the number of virtual machines you want to run. A virtual machine is a Xen or KVM instance, or an LXC or OpenVZ container, for example. If you want to be able to spin up 35 virtual machines, you’d want the 50 virtual machine license of Cloudmin.

The second use case has no limits. Any Cloudmin Professional version (including the $4/month or $40/year Cloudmin Connect license) can manage any number of Virtualmin installations (whether they are on virtual machines or real physical dedicated systems).

Because we want everyone with a bunch of Virtualmin systems to have the convenience that Cloudmin provides, even if they don’t need the virtual machine management features of Cloudmin, we offer the low-cost Cloudmin Connect product. That ability (to manage unlimited Virtualmin installations) is provide in all of the Cloudmin Professional licenses, as well (so you don’t need two different Cloudmin licenses or installations for these two use cases).

I know this is confusing. There’s so much overlap and so many confusing differences in terminology across hosting (where “virtual host” in Apache means one thing, but the term “host system” in virtualization terminology means another). I’ll write up some docs about how to choose the right Cloudmin license soon; we are doing a big new release of Cloudmin in a couple of months, which will include some new features, but mostly will coincide with standardizing on the new theme, improving the documentation for Cloudmin, and providing better tools for people to integrate all of our products into their infrastructure.

“Also, I have Cloudmin professional. I guess I need the 50 hosts for my 12 servers, but I dont understand “Up to 50 virtual machine guests on up to 50 host systems” - I have just 12 servers. whats the difference with 50 virtuamin machines and 50 hosts?”

It sounds like you don’t need any virtual machines in your Cloudmin Professional license! If all 12 of your servers are dedicated servers, running Virtualmin, and your goal is to provide a central interface for those Virtualmin installations (allowing domain searches across all of them, managing software updates centrally, be able to move domains across servers relatively easily, etc.), or to centralize some of your services (like DNS, databases, and mail processing), you just need Cloudmin Connect (which is a combination of the old products called Cloudmin for Physical Servers and Cloudmin Services).

If, on the other hand, you want to also offer virtual machines to your customers, other Cloudmin Professional licenses would be appropriate.

So: Are you creating virtual machines with your Cloudmin system? (e.g. KVM instances) If not, you need Cloudmin Connect. If so, your current license is the right one. I’ll be happy to right-size that license for you, and refund the difference if you’re currently in the wrong one.

OK, on to the other ideas.

We’ve had several requests for “cross-server” or “multi-server” licensing, and we even wrote the code to allow it a few years ago. But, this one is really challenging and scary for us. I’ll be blunt about why: We are currently not really making enough money to sustain and grow the company. I don’t talk about this a lot, but right now, we’re effectively losing money, and Jamie and I aren’t taking salaries some months (so we can reliably pay Eric and Ilia). And, we all have other sources of income, by necessity. Based on my calculations of what it would cost us to offer multi-server licensing, we would need to more than double (almost triple, actually) the number of paying customers we have in order to maintain the same revenue (which, again, is already not enough to sustain and grow the company). Making an Open Source based business profitable is a challenge.

Based on the data I have, I don’t believe making that change would more than double the number of paying customers we have (I don’t think it would even be close, actually; I think, based on my current data, that making the change would cut our revenue in half pretty much overnight). I’m willing to take some risks (the new license pricing is often dramatically lower, particularly for Cloudmin Professional), in the interest of increasing the number of people buying something from us, rather than just using the GPL versions (Virtualmin GPL usage has been steadily increasing for the whole time we’ve been doing Virtualmin, but sales plateaued a few years ago, and have even declined in recent years; more people than ever are using Virtualmin, but less are buying Professional than five years ago). But, I just don’t see how to make the multi-server license work and keep the company running for another ten years. That said, the current experiment seems to be working. The new version and website combined with new pricing has led to a very solid increase in sales, even if revenue is still down (because of the lower prices and the monthly pricing).

In short: We would need to (at least) double the price of a multi-server license to make it not hit our bottom line in significant ways. And, I don’t think that would go over well, either.

I think there’s a reason that none of our major competitors offer a multi-server license, and I think it is that any company with staff to pay that did so would be bankrupt within a year.

So, I hear you, and I appreciate the math you’re having to do when trying to sort out whether to run GPL or Professional, and we want to help make that decision easier for you. A multi-server license just can’t be the way we work it out, I don’t think. I was hopeful that lowering prices and making them available in monthly form, would be enough to solve this problem for some providers. I’m also hopeful that with the new version, new UI, and other stuff in the pipeline, Virtualmin provides enough extra value to make it easier to justify providers sending us a little money now and then.

I also want to mention that for hosting providers with multiple licenses, we offer discounts. They are temporarily not happening (new shopping cart has a totally different discount system), and our reseller system is on hiatus, but will begin to be fixed and partially come back online in a day or so. Customers who buy 5 or more licenses or $500 worth of licenses in a year qualify for reseller status and gets discounts (that get bigger based on the volume). This has also gotten easier to qualify for (it used to be 5 or $1000).

Thanks again for the feedback. We want this to be a mutually profitable relationship. We want your hosting business to work smoothly and profitably, and we will try to provide the tools to do that at a reasonable price. We always welcome feedback…let’s keep talking. Maybe we can come up with something that works for everybody.