Virtuozzo Templates, ISO and VMware

We finally released the above, after the VoipNow 1.6.3 and DNS Manager 3.5.0 releases last week. They are available at:

DNS Manager 3.5.0
http://download1.4psa.com/dnsmanager/dnsmanager-3.5.0.iso
http://dnsmanager.4psa.com/vzdns/

VoipNow 1.6.3
http://download1.4psa.com/voipnow/voipnow-1.6.3.iso
http://voipnow.4psa.com/vz/

Of course, you can always use the command line installer, these are only additional installation methods.

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Hosting Providers Are Better Positioned than VoIP Providers

Better positioned where? 🙂 I agree that the title might be a little funny. But let me explain.

We estimate that around 75% of the providers that offer VoipNow are Internet Telephony only providers, around 15% are hosting providers that also offer Internet Telephony, and the rest of 10% are enterprises.

During the discussions with our customers, we discovered that most VoIP only providers do not usually offer value added services to their users and they only use VoipNow for a determined purpose, which is very specific (let’s say calling cards). We believe that this is unfortunate and that sooner or later the market will force them to go into value added services.

On the other hand, hosting providers usually offer more feature rich services. It’s absolutely clear that the market will converge in the next five years. The unified messaging market will force providers to offer hosting and communications bundled in one package.

For hosting providers it’s reasonably easy to start offering VoIP services, but for telephony service providers it’s not so easy. Even if hosting providers are much slower on adopting things, (surprisingly) they have a very interesting opportunity at their fingers. We can help them address it.

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DNS Manager 3.5 Is Live

You can update your systems, you can download it. We haven’t released the new ISO, Virtuozzo and VMware templates (this will happen in the next days), but the new repository is live, so you can install/update DNS Manager 3.5 using the command line updater. We tested this release with some of our partners in the last three weeks and the feedback was very positive, because we made a lot of new things possible with DNS Manager 3.5.

We have a particular customer that invested more than 50k on its custom made DNS management software in the past six years. Last year they didn’t want to use DNS Manager, but this month, after several weeks of testing, they finally adopted DNS Manager 3.5. We helped them a little to integrate it with the domain registration and customer panel, but it was not so difficult considering that this took less than two weeks.

Key features in DNS Manager 3.5:
– round robin (DNS load balancing) automation
– support for AAAA, SRV and NAPTR
– speed boost on remote updates

I guess you can discover by yourselves the rest of the 30 new features (or you can read the release notes :))

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4PSA Server Controller – new version

We launched a new version of Server Controller. Server Controller is not such popular 4PSA software, and personally I fell sorry for this, because I think that it deserved more. The main problem with it was that no other control panel had such an addon and for most people it was (and it still is) difficult to understand what is Server Controller and what it does (looks like we weren’t either very good at explaining this).

The software is a Microsoft Windows program that can be used to manage and monitor multiple Plesk servers. I use it almost every day, because in many cases it’s hard to remember the logins, than login in the browser to the correct server in order to check customers and domains, add new domains, etc. With Server Controller this is very easy, because everything is accessible at a click of a mouse (you only have to add the server to it once). I estimate that most companies with serveral Plesk servers can save a lot of minutes every days with Server Controller.

The software also allows you to monitor the most important parameters of a Plesk server (an agent must be installed on the server). The new version is compatible with Microsoft Vista and also brings some other improvements. I recommended you to check it.

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4PSA Clean Server 4 – A giant step forward

A new version of 4PSA Clean Server is scheduled for September. There are many unique features built in this new version. You know that 4PSA Clean Server was the first mail antivirus for Plesk (it was released almost five years ago). Parallels also introduced some antiviruses, using engines from Dr.Web and Kaspersky. Although much more expensive than Clean Server, especially Dr.web is quite popular. There is no major difference between Clean Server and Parallels offering (well, two years ago Clean Server was considerable faster and more stable, today the difference is minimal). Clean Server still has many more features than any of them, but we felt that this was not enough for our next generation product.

One of the common problems with antiviruses (the same with antispam – yes, a new Spam Guardian 4 is also in development) is that in one massive email flow, some emails might not be scanned because the scanning engine is too busy. In order to prevent this, with Clean Server 4 we introduced a Grid scanning infrastructure. Let me explain.

Let’s say that you have a single Plesk server. You will install Clean Server on this server and it will work like previous versions. But, let’s say that you do not want your machine to be loaded by antiviruse scanning. No problem, you can get another server (a VPS might be fine) and install there the scanning engine. Then you point your Clean Server to that scanning engine. Even better, you can have multiple Plesk servers pointing to the same scanning engine, which means that a machine will be dedicated only to antivirus scanning.

Wait, that’s not all. Let’s suppose that this scanning server gets too loaded. No problem, add another scanning server and point your Plesk servers to both scanning machines. Add three, four – it does not matter. The Plesk servers will load balance scanning requests between servers in the infrastructure.

Benefits? Hard to count them all:

– It will be impossible for a hosting machine to be loaded with too many scanning requests, meaning that other services will not be affected by high loads.

– Emails can no longer pass unscanned due to QoS settings. When your scanning machine is too loaded, simply add another machine!

– Resources are much smarter spent.

– The scanning engines collect information from multiple machines, which mean that they can learn better about nasty email profiles.

This is just the most important architectural improvement in Clean Server 4. We also increased its speed by more than 200%, added more control features for end-users, improved interface, etc.

With Clean Server 4 we make a considerable jump ahead our competition. I am fully confident that this idea will be sooner or later copied. But this will take some time and guess what – we already know which one will be the next generation architecture and we started the research on it 🙂

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Do I need Plesk to use VoipNow?

The idea to write here answers to some popular questions came to us after HostingCon 2008 (yes, we got lots of questions there). In the following days we will try to answer to such questions.

People often asked if Plesk is required in order to use VoipNow. The answer is that VoipNow has nothing to do with Plesk, it’s a totally different software. Its interface looks pretty much alike, and it was created this way for end users, because it’s easier for them to learn software with a familiar interface. In fact VoipNow cannot be installed on the same server with Plesk. However, we created a Plesk addon, called VoipNow Plesk Module that allows server administrators to link together Plesk servers with VoipNow servers. This software builds an interesting opportunity for a hosting company, because they can use their customer base to upsell VoIP services. As VoipNow is ready for SMB customers, the hosting company business will boost.

The free VoipNow Plesk Module allows hosting customers to perform all hosting and VoIP related operations under Plesk. But even in this case you will need a server with Plesk and a server with VoipNow (VPSes are ok).

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HostingCon 2008 Feedback

Last week we visited Chicago and attended HostingCon 2008 as exhibitors. I want to comment a little bit around this experience. Chicago is a beautiful city, and we really enjoyed it. We accommodated downtown at the Intercontinental Hotel, next to Chicago Tribune and NBC on Michigan Avenue. We walked quite a lot, mostly in the night (too hot during the day). The town features a very inspired combination between old and new, its streets are clean and overall is hard to say anything bad about this part of the city (cannot comment about the rest).

HostingCon 2008 took place at Navy Pier, an entertainment and exhibition centre located at Lake Michigan. I think that the location and the organization was OK for the event. I didn’t like the food, but it can be just me :).

During three days, we discussed with a lot of people and we were able to get feedback from service providers and software vendors, both exhibitors and attendees. What I found quite intriguing was that the high number of exhibitors was not also matched by a high number of attendees. Most people described the event slower than the ones in the last years, and it looked like organizers focused on exhibitors and forgot about attendees. Yes, we got in touch with providers that exhibited, we were also visited by customers, and also many prospects asked us questions. From what I have been able to spot, most guys that participated as attendees were service providers. I believe this is quite unfortunate for exhibiting providers that also expected customers to be present, and here I mean the industry that buys Data Center services. I guess it’s nice to see all your competitors on the same place, it’s nice to exchange ideas on a party, but these do no pay the bills.

Possible causes for the low number of attendees would be: the period of the year chosen for this event, the large number of hosting and related events over the year, and maybe insufficient propaganda. I hope that the organizers will learn from this experience and prepare a better HostingCon 2009. BTW, next year it will be on Washington DC.

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Business addons to VoipNow

VoipNow CallAPI opens the gate to a lot of business applications that use with the Asterisk Manager protocol, which is used by CallAPI. We wrote some articles to help you setup:

TAPI on Microsoft Windows – this means that you will be able to use the Microsoft Windows Telephony features in all Windows software, like Microsoft Outlook, Windows Dialer.

Outcall – this is a nice software that can also integrate with Outlook and also provides click2call and call popup. You can call anyone from the Address book very easily.

iSymphony – allows you to control extensions (calls, redirects, hangups, etc). The company receptionist can use it with great results.

Of course, any software that uses the Asterisk Manager interface should with with 4PSA VoipNow – and if it does not work the VoipNow Proxy LUA request/answer engine can be used (but this step is a little bit more advanced). We hope you will enjoy this.

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Browsing for VoIP goodies

Sometimes I have nothing special on my list and I surf on the net searching for cool sites. Basically I keep looking for sites with quality information about VoIP (and aviation but that’s another story..). Most of the time I see the same news replicated across the whole VoIP blogging ecosystem, but sometimes I get lucky 🙂

Look at what I found:
bandwidth calculator tool, and another one. There are good if you need to provision your bandwidth requirements, also here you can find detailed description of codec types used in industry.
Going downhill, I found an article about factors affecting the voice quality of service (although the article is quite old, some things never change), but if you want serious stuff and you have 30 minutes to spend, you might want a take a look here

Why am I sharing with you these resources? I am not a technical guy, but I think that it is important to understand codecs and to allocate the necessary resources for VoIP calls.

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Come and join us at HostingCON

We will exhibit at HostingCON this year. Actually HostingCON will start in less than three weeks (it’s between 28-30 July 2008). You can find us in the same booth with Parallels, booth #401. HostingCON is the largest event in US for this industry (actually I think it’s the largest in the world). Size matters, but it’s not everything 🙂 – the quality of the event is also very good with providers and ISV joining from all continents.

So, this looks like the perfect opportunity to visit Chicago. We scheduled some interesting product releases around HostingCON, so we will have what to discuss there. If you want to schedule a business meeting with 4PSA management, email hostingcon AT 4psa.com.

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