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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Our 2013 In Review and a First Look at 2014

2013 was another big year for us here at Mammoth Networks! We've continued to grow our customer base and our feature set. We've been working hard on our core infrastructure, policies and processes to improve our back end - while this work continues, we've been encouraged with the results so far and look forward to an even better year in 2014.

 

Some of the noteworthy changes in 2013 included a refresh of mPanel, our VPS control panel, providing instant access to the Rescue Console as well as a more intuitive and practical interface to manage VPSs.


We were also very happy to roll out Deployment Scripts, providing a powerful system of automation for Linux VPSs. Customers can write their own scripts or use examples that we provide to perform tasks like automatically installing system or application software or starting and stopping services.


Several other new features were added to mPanel for VPS customers, including direct support to do off-site backups to Amazon S3, as well as a new web-based network-level firewall to allow customers to selectively filter traffic before it hits their VPS.


We also introduced hourly billing, providing more flexibility for customers looking for short-term VPS utilisation.


Continuing our commitment to transparency, we extended our Service Status website to include more historical data about our service uptime, as well as real-time status reporting on key infrastructure.

We've also been changing a few things behind the scenes to help improve our communications with customers, and our feedback from customers in this regard has been very positive.

2014

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers (christmasstockimages.com) / CC BY 3.0

So, what's next for Mammoth Networks in 2014?

The awesome Mammoth Media software development team continue to work hard at extending mPanel with a view to improving our feature set and providing better automation.

Some of the features we're working on at the moment include the ability to upload your own disk images to run as a VPS. You'll also be able to download your backups locally, giving you more flexibility with your data, as well as another avenue to provide off-site backups.

We're also developing an API to allow programming access to our VPS services. We're targeting the OpenStack Compute API compatibility for the service, which will allow application developers and server administrators to easily build, scale, and manage Internet services on our platform.

We'd like to take a quick moment to thank all our customers for their support and we look forward to working with you in 2014!

Upgraded mPanel Launched

We're happy to announce that we've just rolled out a new primary management interface for VPSs within our control panel system, mPanel.

The new version is accessible now - if you log into mPanel as usual and 'Manage' a VPS, you'll see the new interface:

New mPanel

The new look is a result of us checking out statistics and usage patterns within mPanel and reshuffling the view to make it a little easier to perform common tasks, moving some of the less used areas out of the main interface. The result is an interface that we hope will be easier and quicker to use for the vast majority of users.

The biggest obvious change is that we now include the Rescue Console directly in the management view. This will allow users to immediately check the status of their VPS from its console view - and to log in and operate it directly from the web browser.

A drop-down menu at the top left allows you to quickly switch between VPSs, and the grid menu button just to the right of the drop-down opens the options available for that VPS.

The core status information for the selected VPS is now displayed down the left hand side. Any hyperlinked information can be clicked to quickly take you to the relevent management function - for example, if you click your disk space readout, it will take you directly to the 'Change plan' page so you can modify your disks.

Graphs for some key metrics are now displayed on the manage page, to give you an at-a-glance overview of your VPS utilisation - CPU, RAM, disk space and bandwidth are all displayed.

Hourly Billing Now Available for VPS Plans

We are happy to announce that we have a new hourly billing option available for customers looking for some more flexibility with their VPS requirements.

When signing up for a VPS, simply select "Pay by the hour" from the Payment Frequency drop down in the Billing Details section.

Hourly Billing

The main difference is this is a post-paid option - a VPS created with hourly billing will only be billed when the VPS is terminated, or monthly if it is online for that long.

An example use case is for customers who are preparing for a short spike of activity - for example, if you're running a big advertising campaign over a weekend and you expect to receive a lot of traffic during that time.

Now, you can simply spin up some extra VPS instances for load balancing purposes just for that weekend period, and only be charged for the hours that they're in use - you no longer need to commit to any extended periods for short bursts of activity.

We hope this new billing option is useful for customers who are looking for a slightly more "cloud" style of approach to virtual server provisioning - as always, we'd love your feedback so please don't hesitate to get in touch!

Terms of Service Update

A quick note just to advise customers of a minor update to our Terms of Service.

The changes are not significant - primarily just some minor updates relating to privacy to bring us in line with changes in Australian law.

The full list of changes are as follows:

  • 2.1 (b) added
  • 7.2 (i) was swapped with 7.2 (iv)
  • 7.2 (ix) added
  • 7.4 changed to reference the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (instead of the Trade Practices Act 1974)
  • References to "VPS Services" have been changed to "Hosting Services" to more accurately reflect the range of services that we now offer.

Automate Your VPS Setup With Deployment Scripts

We've added a great new feature for our Linux VPS customers this week - Deployment Scripts.

Deployment Scripts allow you to automate many aspects of configuring a newly provisioned Linux VPS. You can install new software, configuring options from easy-to-use web interfaces, set up and run system services, and much more - all without having to even connect to your VPS.

Customers can build their own scripts from scratch or use existing ones from our Deployment Scripts Library - we've currently got examples that will allow you to automatically install things like a LAMP stack, WordPress, or MySQL. We'll be adding to this library over time, and we're more than happy to publish customer scripts if they think they'd be useful for others.

We've also tried to ensure that our system is compatible with Linode's fantastic StackScripts system, which offers a huge variety of pre-made scripts for customers to tinker with.

We hope this new feature is useful for VPS customers - we look forward to expanding on the library over time to make things even easier for customers to automatically provision new online services.

Deployment Scripts are available right now and are free for VPS customers to use. Enjoy!

Improvements to Service Status Site

At Mammoth Networks we're strongly commited to transparency for all aspects of the service. We want existing customers (and potential customers) to have access to as much information as possible about the service so they can make informed decisions around their online infrastructure and hosting.

We've recently added two small new features to our Service Status website which we hope provide more information for customers:

- A new summary module on the home page that gives at-a-glance information about the status of core elements of the service - the network, web hosting (for shared hosting customers) and VPS hosts. Any failures here detected by the third-party monitoring services of Pingdom will be reflected there within a few minutes, allowing customers to quickly see if there are any current service-level issues.

- A new Uptime History page. This page retreives uptime summary data from Pingdom for every major top level component at Mammoth Networks - routers, VPS hosts, DNS servers, and more. Information about the previous month, year to date, and previous year is available.

While these are minor additions, we hope that these changes will make it even easier for everyone to understand the state of our services.

New Operating System Images

Over the last few weeks we've added a variety of new operating system images for VPS customers. You may have seen them roll into the options list if you changed plans, but we also wanted to quickly mention it here so people who weren't actively poking around are also aware of the new options.

New operating system images include:

  • Debian 7.0
  • Ubuntu 13.04
  • Fedora 18
  • OpenSUSE 12.3
  • CentOS 5.9

We do our best to ensure we've always got the latest versions of our supported operating systems available, but if there's anything you're particularly keen to see supported please drop us a line via our support page and we'll see what we can do.

Backup Price Dropped by 50 Percent

In addition to rolling out cool new features, we've had the chance recently to re-evaluate how some existing services have been performing. One of these services is our additional backup offerings - something which we're really passionate about because we know how important it is to maintain regular backups of your data.

We're happy to announce that as a result of this evaluation we have decided to drop backup price by 50%, reducing the cost from $0.20/GB to $0.10/GB.

We hope this will encourage more users to take advantage of our flexible backup system and allow harried system administrators to relax just that little bit more knowing they have a wider variety of backup options for their all-important systems and data.

Off-site Backups Using Amazon S3 Now Available

Another new feature this week - we've added support for off-site backups of VPSs to be created on the Amazon S3 service. This will provide another layer of comfort for customers who want to know their data is backed up outside of our network.

Customers who have added this service to their VPS plan will have their disk images sent to their nominated bucket on Amazon S3 immediately after a successful local backup is made.

As the backup is stored in your own S3 bucket, you can download the disk image and manipulate it directly, allowing you to verify the contents of the backup or simply access the contents of your VPS locally in your own test environment.

Off-site backups can now be enabled for your VPS on the 'Change Plan' page in the 'VPS Details' section. They are currently charged at $0.20 per gigabyte per month.

More information on how to create your own S3 bucket for use with this new feature (and information on how to download and manipulate your VPS image locally) can be found in this article.

As always, we remind all users of any computer system that making a backup is only part of a good backup strategy. We strongly encourage our customers to make their own backups that are independent of our systems and to test both sets of backups regularly to ensure they're valid and that they'll restore as expected.

 

Bucket-configuration

New Network Firewall Service for VPS Customers

We're happy to announce we've released a new feature this week for VPS customers of Mammoth Networks - a firewall service.

This new firewall is a web-based system that works at the network level, providing enhanced security for your VPS by allowing you to selectively filter traffic before it gets to you.

An easy-to-use interface allows customers to selectively allow or block traffic to or from particular addresses (and ports). The firewalling is effective immediately upon completion of the request.

The firewall service is available now and is free for all VPS customers. To access it, log into mPanel, select your VPS and select 'Firewall' from the 'Manage' menu.

 

Firewall-screen-thumb

Debian Ubuntu Fedora CentOS Windows Xen OpenSUSE