Virtualmin and Cloudmin Professional Pricing Changes in 2018

Howdy all,

At the beginning of 2016, we tried an experiment: Lowering initial purchase price across the board, sometimes dramatically so, for all of our products while also introducing monthly licenses and removing the old tiered pricing for initial vs renewal purchases.

In some ways this has been a success; we have more paying customers today than we did when we began that experiment. But, unfortunately, the reduction in price meant that even though we have more customers, we have much higher support burden for lower revenue. We take our responsibility to support you and your business very seriously, and this increase has become unsustainable for the size of our team, and the lower prices have meant we haven’t been able to add more staff.

We’ve always offered unlimited support tickets with our Professional products. When our primary customers were experienced Linux administrators, we could handle the load. But, now that it includes a lot more new system administrators, we’re finding we’re handling queries that go well beyond merely answering questions about Virtualmin itself and how it interacts with the services it manages. The scope of what’s expected of us and the volume of support queries has increased tremendously, while our days have frustratingly remained only 24 hours long and our need to sleep a few hours a day has vexingly remained constant.

Another change we made even before 2016 was to begin rolling new features into both the Pro and GPL version at the same time. No new Pro-only features have gone into Virtualmin or Cloudmin for some time, while GPL has seen many formerly Pro features rolled into the project. Again, we are victims of our own success. This has led to more rapid growth of GPL usage (great!), especially among new system administrators, but also more demand on our time in the forums, and an increase in frustration among users who aren’t getting help as quickly as they’d like. Again, the common theme is we’re drowning in “success”. While we don’t promise any particular level of support for Virtualmin or Cloudmin GPL, we do try to answer questions that don’t get answered by the community, but we aren’t finding as much time to do that.

In short: More new users with less revenue is killing us. We have to make some changes.

In 2018, we will be making some pricing changes to allow us to either increase our revenue enough to hire additional support staff, or to reduce support burden enough to allow us to return to a more healthy balance of new development vs. support roles. We hope it’s the former rather than the latter, of course, but either one will allow us to provide better support and build better products faster.

The changes won’t be very large and we will continue to offer monthly and annual pricing with a slight discount for annual purchases. The cheapest licenses will see the biggest increase, as those are where we spend most of our support time.

We will also be introducing some changes to reseller plans for users with a lot of licenses to insure pricing for our largest customers does not change much; if you’re currently receiving quantity pricing discounts, you’ll likely not see significant changes to your Virtualmin expenses. We recognize that our larger customers actually require the least support per seat, by a very large margin, due to internal expertise from years of managing Virtualmin systems, and so we’ll find ways to keep your pricing the same. If you are not currently receiving quantity discounts but have more than five licenses of any type, get in touch via the issue tracker, and we’ll get you into a reseller plan before these changes take place. If you’re already receiving reseller discounts, you don’t need to do anything. We will adjust your plan to address the changes.

And, we will be introducing some new Pro-only features and benefits throughout 2018. We won’t be neglecting Virtualmin/Cloudmin GPL maintenance, nor will we be removing any current features in GPL, but we will be returning to our previous development model of new features going into Pro first and trickling down into GPL over time rather than performing development on both projects at the same time.

If you are on an annual subscription, your prices won’t change until the license renews, so if you are paying monthly and wanted to lock in the current price for a year, you could switch to an annual subscription by the end of the year and you won’t be effected for up to a year.

As always we welcome feedback on how we should resolve the conundrum we find ourselves in and on how this will impact your business. We’re all in this together, and we can’t succeed if you don’t, so we’ve gotta work together to move forward.

I’ll be sending out an email to all paying customers with details of the pricing changes, and will announce them here, once they’ve been formalized. I wanted to give everyone a heads up about it as early as possible, so everyone has a chance to offer feedback.



Joe, perhaps you could also make some greater use of the community support resources available. Simply appointing a moderator to clean up spam, deal with the moderated post queue, and perhaps deal with trivial support tickets could alleviate some small amount of your daily support drudge. Most community support positions are unpaid, so it shouldn’t add expense. All this as an additional part of your strategy, not to replace it, of course.

That’s a good idea, which we’ve explored in the past. Unfortunately, we had a short list of volunteers who were willing to be moderators and then a couple of them proved to be folks we needed to moderate sometimes because they got overly aggressive and hostile in the forums! It’s hard to make/enforce rules for people not on the payroll. And, also, while spam is definitely a problem, it’s less of a time sink than it used to be…these days, we only get a couple spam messages a day that make it through the filters. That’s annoying (for us and for users), but not catastrophic. I would certainly appreciate some help with the moderation queue; I sometimes miss things. Unfortunately, moderation is awful in Drupal (it’s in two places and it’s not always easy to see what’s going on without actually clicking through to the messages in question). When I have time to switch us to a new forum, it’ll probably all get a lot better.

Are you volunteering for the role? :wink:

I appreciate the work you guys do and am happy to help where I can. I visit regularly, although I am leaving for a two week vacation in the Australian Outback tomorrow and will effectively be AFK for the duration. You can get my contact details from my IP address. :wink:


While I’ve not been as active in the community as I would like to be lately, I still do get about half a dozen requests each month for technical support from Virtualmin users. As you may know, I’m the guy offering the “Virtualmin Training” in the “Help (Home for Newbies)” section.

The primary reason I haven’t been as active in the community lately relates to prioritising my time. That is, as you can understand there aren’t always enough hours in the day to offer assistance without pay. That said, I do love helping people, and when people contact me I do make an effort to set aside some time to assist them either for FREE or a reasonable price (depending on their needs).

Anyways, if you are considering expanding the team, I’d be delighted to be considered, and am happy to work as a contractor for a modest salary.

I’ve been blessed by the community’s response to my offer for assistance over the past few years, and even when there is no money involved, the gratitude extended by them has made all efforts worth it.

Thanks for your consideration!

I don’t know if Drupal was a good idea.

I think that with a better forum software (like xenForo and its Resource Manager or other 3rd party but well-supported addons) paired with a good ticket system (with a xenforo addon or external but integrated) you could speed up and avoid many repeated questions because information will be easily found, easily generated, there will be zero spam and a less awful back/frontend GUI.

In separated categories of the Resource Manager you can list official documentation, downloads (paid downloads too), users could list guides, selected 3rd parties could list their works/services. (every resource can be updated the update optionally can create changelog entry). Resource categories can be configurated to have a thread attached to every resource so users can discuss it. take a look here: (you can feature resource, you can filter per categories and sort them in many ways).

Here’s a download resource example:
Here’s a guide/tip resource example:

Tickets addon (well supported):

But… the problem is that you invested a lot of time in renewing the website and maybe you would like to stick with it as long a possible.

p.s. I’m not against a little price increase. I’m on GPL right now but thinking to go to PRO in the next months even if there will be the price increase.


Admittingly, most forums are better than Drupal’s.

I believe Joe was going with the Drupal one because it integrated with the overall website at the time and has since kept it for the same reason. Though I also believe he’s giving some thought to a better one going forward as it’ll allow them to delegate tasks, get more powerful features, and like you said better performance overall.

That said, it’s not easy to make a switch when you have to consider migrating all the content over, you’re trying to support the community, and create/update software at the same time.

As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race :slight_smile:

So at the end all this new ideas did come back to bite you… and i told you long time ago. The price for the software is great if you dont offer any support but obviously this isnt the case. You could still keep the price at the same level and change how you handle the support. For example 50$ is too expensive for one time job and too cheap if you need to sort half the installation or server. Usually companies are asking between 30-60$/mo for servers with cPanel, some other control panel or no control panel at all the price quickly jumps to 100-150$/mo and up…

I would say forget about one time job and go with server management and 100-150$/mo as minimum price with some requirements, e.g. no more than X hours per month on top of usual server management or you pay XX$ per incident/ticket. I mean you have a lot of option so why dont you keep the price for the software as it is or even cheaper and make money on things what people really need - like support. One more idea, when someone buy your support the price for the software drops XX% or in some cases even free (e.g. basic Vmin price). Or you could drop the price for Vmin 10 domains to 5$/mo, remove domain limitation from the rest and bring down to two versions - dedicated and VPS. Like i said, a lot of options to make happy your clients and yourself but not like this…

Oh, almost forgot - c’on start using some proper software for tickets and billing (whmcs, clientexec, others…). You cant handle support on open forum and ask your clients to mark it private if they need to post sensitive information.

At this point, I’m certain Drupal wasn’t a good idea for our purposes. But, the time implementing everything is already sunk, and reimplementing everything in another CMS or with a framework or similar will be another huge project. That said, the forum will be migrated to something else in early-mid 2018, probably Discourse. It solves all of my major complaints about the Drupal forums, and is based on some reasonably modern standards and is in a language I’m comfortable with (Ruby) and has a migration tool, so the pain of migrating 100,000+ posts and comments won’t be entirely on me (I’ve largely written the migration tools myself for the last four CMS migrations we’ve done over the past dozen years, which is a big part of the pain of moving). And, of all of the forums I’ve used, it’s among the ones I hate the least (I’d like it if it were simpler and cleaner, but it’s not as busy and complicated as the popular BB style forums).

Issue tracking will likely get migrated to something else, as well, though I don’t have a good feel for what the right replacement is. There’s a lot of suggestions to use things that are very targeted to specific kinds of support (some suggestions for ticketing systems for hosting providers, and the like, like WHMCS), which isn’t a comfortable fit for a software company (while we support hosting providers and our software is for hosts and web devs, we aren’t either of those things). They’re great products (we like the WHMCS folks, and they seem to treat Virtualmin customers well), but it’s not a good fit for what we do.

While lots of folks don’t seem to like that we’re using a ticket tracker that has a lot of support for bug tracking, we write software, and bugs are a big part of what we’re dealing with! So, tools that focus on one-to-one interactions with a single customer who needs a specific question answered or a specific action performed aren’t really a good fit for maybe half of our interactions in the issue tracker (though we do need to handle that better). That may just mean we need a separate process for customer support and migrate bug tracking into github (where we already welcome bug reports, but it is also a poor fit, because folks file tickets on the wrong projects about 50% of the time since we have so many repos, and a lot of folks don’t really know which module they’re interacting with when they see a problem). I have been considering a move to RT, which is one I’ve used int he distant past, is well-maintained, has a new API, and is extremely powerful. It is in use in the hosting industry very heavily, as well, so maybe folks will be comfortable with it. Most importantly, it definitely handles email interactions well; email is a first class citizen in RT…you can open, close, and update tickets all via the email interface, which is not possible in Drupal’s Project Issue (well, there are modules for it, but they don’t actually work very well).

Anyway, the website is a problem, and I know it’s a problem. But there’s little to be done about it aside from gradually replacing it with something that fits our needs better. There’s no money to throw at the problem, so I can’t contract it out. It’s on my plate, and when I take time to work on the website, it means I’m not working on the other stuff that’s also only my plate (which is also pretty important…stuff like overhauling the docs, or working on the Webmin 2.0 branch).

Yep, integration was really important to me in the decision-making process. It’s still important to me. I don’t like sites that have a “community.domain.tld” and when you click the logo it takes you to the top of “community” rather than the home page of the company/project, for example. Or worse, they have a separate login from the main site! That’s just bad usability. It’s not necessary, even if you’re using a variety of tools rather than a single CMS, but it’s definitely more work to integrate disparate things. And, I hate most forums, in general. They’ve got crazy UI with way too much crap going on.

But, yes, we’ll be moving to something else for forums in 2018. I like Discourse…it’s among the least ugly I’ve seen and has good support for a lot of the things I find most lacking in Drupal (better email support is a big one in both the forums and the ticket tracker, and Drupal sucks at email). It’s also a Ruby on Rails app, which I’m more comfortable with than Drupal and PHP (PHP itself has become a decent language in recent years, but Drupal 7 has a lot of baggage and a lot of abstractions that don’t make sense to me).

But, and this is a big but, even though there’s a tool for migrating forum topics over to Discourse (which I haven’t tested yet), there isn’t a tool for handling redirecting all the links from the old forum to the new, which I’ll have to write, I think. I can’t stand the thought of suddenly having 100,000 404s, and I also am not comfortable with the old forum being left as a zombie forum…basically, I have to make the old links work, or we can’t switch.

We don’t handle customer support on the open forum; the forum has never been where we direct customers to handle support queries. Tickets in the issue tracker have been private-by-default for some time. And, while I agree the issue tracker sucks, we do need bug tracking in addition to traditional a “ticket” tracker. We build/support software, we are not a hosting provider (and likely never will be), so tools targeted to hosting providers, even very good ones, don’t quite fit what we do. We like WHMCS, Clientexec, others…but they aren’t built for software companies. So, I’m planning a move to something else in 2018 (after forums), but it’ll need to be something that fits our needs as a software company in addition to working as a good support ticket system.

I think we do need to make support more of an asset than an expense; meaning, we probably do need to limit the support included in the product, especially at the lower price points. Buyers of our lowest cost products also need the most help, by an alarmingly wide margin, so it’s kind of dangerous for a small team to offer very low-cost products, as we’ve been doing. Certainly, small customers may become big customers when they have success with the product, but we have to find some kind of balance that works.

But, then again, I also don’t envision Virtualmin as a services company. We have always wanted to be a software company. If we have to pivot to being a support and services company to be profitable, there’s not really any room to make software in that model (i.e. why wouldn’t we support something with very high margins or a much bigger installed base, like WordPress, if we were going to go into the support and services business?). Spending half, or more, of our time and revenue on developing Virtualmin, wouldn’t make sense for a services/support company. The pricing structure change, and maybe the way we handle support, are coming about to enable us to focus on building great tools. Making support profitable is probably necessary, but I also don’t want “support” to be at the top of our balance sheet (in terms of profits or expenses, though it currently is at the top of expenses, by far.

I mentioned WHMCS (or anything else lookalike) because how this software is good in handling subscriptions plus it has nice ticketing system. For what i can see both things are represented in large quantities with Virtualmin (and other *min products). Not sure did you check this page.

For the support part… Like it or not but selling some piece of software without support just doesnt work. Actually lack of support will probably kill the product or at least significantly degrade the chance to sell it. Not to mention unhappy clients and chargebacks because someone server was down for 12+ hours.

It would be great if *Min products could gain more popularity and attract companies who offer server management. I mean just google “server management” and 90% of all results in first few pages will be cPanel and most of them have cPanel as requirement, e.g. cPanel or no support. So when you decide to go with one control panel for sure support will be (and must be) at the top of the list to check. Can you imagine something happens with the software and server goes down and now two situations: one where initial support and work starts in 15-30 min or second where first response to a ticket was after 2-4 hours.

When i was thinking to try Virtualmin first thing i check was what choice i have when it comes to support. At that time (this was before 2 years… more or less) there was almost no support for servers with Virtualmin aside of companies who dont care what control panel is installed, but their prices start at 150-200$/mo and more. So the option was 50$/incident with you or 150-200+$/mo for decent server management company. Now lets take a look what we have with cPanel - there is a company self censored/no advertising what charges less than 30$/mo per server… but is cPanel only. Personally i never used them nor i would dare to trust them at that price, but based on so many people review looks like they have years of good service and reputation. Best part, they are not alone. If you do a little math you have on one side cPanel with (35$/mo+30$/mo) 65$/mo cost vs Virtualmin (20$/mo+100$/mo as best case scenario) 120$/mo. For the price difference you can actually rent a dedicated server from Hetzner or OVH.

You said that idea for you guys is to make software and not bury yourself under tons of support request. Well is there a chance to find a good (and pref. big) server management company and make a deal with them? Something like official support for all your products with privileged prices. In this way you could focus on developing the software and leave the support to a company who have quality, resources and knowledge to handle increasing amount of people asking for help.