For the past several months, as we’ve been working on Virtualmin 6, my focus has been on removing pain points: Making more things more automatic more of the time. I think we’ve done some good things in that direction during this development cycle, with more automation during installation, more reliable installations (with a few new bugs that crept in but have mostly been fixed now), and generally making managing a web server more manageable for more people. (That’s a lot of “more” in one paragraph!)
But, there’s a few recurring pain points that we can’t really resolve by software improvements alone. I’ve identified what I think are two of the biggest ones that we could solve with a low-cost hosted service that integrates automatically into Virtualmin for those folks who want it:
- Spam/Antivirus scanning relay. In the past couple of years it’s become a major pain point to host antivirus, in particular, locally. ClamAV has grown to over 500MB and there’s no reasonable way to shrink it and it is growing faster every day. Spam also, is better when you have a large set of spam/ham data to train your filters on. More users==better spam filtering. And, if we had a reasonable revenue stream and there were demand, we could consider adding higher end AV solutions to the mix. Users who have a lot of Virtualmin servers can solve this problem for themselves with Cloudmin and Cloudmin Services, but folks with one or two servers might be better served by sending us a few bucks a month and not having to worry about it.
- Hosted DNS. We get lots of DNS questions, and while some of them wouldn’t be solved by us hosting the DNS, others definitely would. Secondary DNS is challenging for folks with a single system. Dealing with redundancy, in general, is challenging. Managing DNS for a bunch of domains across multiple servers is difficult, too. Also there are advanced techniques, like AnyCast, failover, GeoIP-based balancing, and load balancing, that might be more easily solved by someone operating at a scale of thousands or hundreds of thousands of zones than by someone managing a few dozen. (And, some, like AnyCast, require significant capital to implement and maintain.)
The idea with either service would be you’d be able to click a button, setup billing info, and be done with that problem forever; it’d just work. We’d have to implement it in both Virtualmin and as an API on the server-side, which would be complex, but what users see would be a black box where they put their problems and we’d solve the problem.
I’ve researched the market for both of these types of services, and we could do it at competitive rates with existing solutions and make a modest profit, so it’s feasible to implement either one (though it’d take months to implement each, so we need to prioritize what would make the most people happy). Either would cost a few bucks a month, depending on how many users (for mail) or zones (for DNS) you have, and somewhat based on the volume of usage.
So, what are your pain points? Note that I don’t mean bugs. If you’ve got a bug, tells us about it in a new topic or issue and we’ll fix the bug. I mean big problems that merely making Virtualmin more powerful or easier to use won’t solve. Things that require more resources than a small company can marshal but we might be able to if we amortize it out across many users.
And, related, but not quite the same: What are you considering moving to the cloud, but don’t really want to deal with learning new interfaces and APIs and new processes to implement? What would you move into the cloud immediately if it looked and acted just like what you’re used to with Virtualmin and Webmin?
I’ve just floating some ideas here. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but after all these years we still get a lot of issues in a few areas; and I’d like to solve them. So, let’s focus in on what those are and how we can solve them.