There is a recurring issue, and we have to tackle it.
When we started IndieHosters, the idea was more to reach the 99% out there that don’t have IT knowledge. I’d say that 50% of our users are like this, and they love our services, there are no problems for them. When they have issue, they contact us and we solve it.
But with our free software approach, and our natural connections to the nerdiest out there, we also attracted the other part which are the “hobbyists”. For them we also solve a nice problem, they want free software, they know how to do it, but they just don’t have time to take care of it, so they delegate it to us.
After some time, we noticed that the first kind (“as a service”) wanted all the support possible. They don’t want to even bother to go to admin interface.
For the hobbyist, then we’ll take care of Infrastructure support as we always did. When it starts to touch the application, then it is your responsibility. You can come here and ask question, and we respond on a “best effort” basis. (If you need, you can always contract us to help you fix the application issue, or report it mainstream for you).
If you feel it is our fault, and this is really blocking for you, you can always send an email, we’ll find the root cause, and if it was application, then we would tell you the amount of time we spent, and you’d be free to donate this amount (or not). We’d do that, because we trust that if there is something wrong, it might be our fault, so we need to investigate.
This is also a difficult question. If we manage it all, then we don’t give access to admin interface. Indeed, if you mess up things, why should we spend time for free to fix it for you. If you don’t have access, and the separation is clear, it is easier for everybody.
If it is for a hobbyist, they want to have access to the bits, I totally understand that (I’m a hobbyist myself ). So for now, they have access to the web admin interface of there apps. But usually it is not enough.
They also need access to:
- the code (not necessarily the core code of the apps, but some folder of it)
- the logs
As you imagine, the first kind, “as a service” is taking us a lot more time, so the price will be different.
Basically, we don’t want to abandon our “hobbyist” users, we love them too, so we keep the price as it was from the beginning.
But we need to raise the price for the “as a service” users, as it comes with more services.
We have to reflect that on our new website, but it is already what we are doing and people are happy.
The “as a service” feel empowered if we do everything for them, so they can focus on other things.
The hobbyist want to change things, break things and revert when possible.
What we can promise is that users will always be free (as in freedom and free beer) to change their plans from “as a service” to “hobbyist” and vice versa.
The actual question
Hobbyists want it all then, they want to be fully empowered. So it basically means root access to their environment.
But we run a docker infrastructure so we actually can’t.
Until now, this is what I hear that people really need:
- access to the logs (at least the web and application server)
- access to the files to be able to modify them (they all request ftp, but well)
- MySQL access
This would be possible to add these features, but:
- it will require some works
- it will actually be more complexe, so more expensive to host
And actually the hobbyist want to pay less
Or maybe there is way, we stay true to our values of the modern web and we offer hobbyists to catch their knowledge by forcing them to use modern tools (and no more cowboy coding )
So the plan would be:
- find a way to send logs to the end user in a secure way (sincerely, I have no idea how to do that, the best, would be to expose ELK, but ELK don’t offer authorization…)
- whatever code the end user want to modify, it is done via git
- if there is a need for phpMyAdmin, well, we have to see
What do you think? would love your feedback!