ISPsystem's software solutions for hosting automation

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This article will walks you through the steps you need to perform to start a hosting business. In this article we will provide tips and and examples that start-ups can use to configure ISPsystem's software products from the very beginning up to the moment when the system is ready to provide hosting services to your clients.

The article was written in November 2015

Step 1. Which hosting type to choose

Start by deciding what are the types of hosting you are going to provide. Hosting services can vary from shared hosting to dedicated server hosting to colocation facilities.

You may start by providing the following services:

You should decide on the type which is best for you:

  • Shared hosting is the most popular type of hosting and will suit the majority of both business and personal needs. Usually, it is cheaper than a VPS. If your clients only want to host their web-sites, this is an ideal solution for them.
  • A VPS is more expensive and requires much more investments.
  • On the same physical machine you can run more Shared hosting services, than VPS
  • Dedicated server hosting is the most powerful type of hosting, which meets the requirements and needs of big businesses, however it requires much investments.

Step 2. Hardware requirements

Let's suppose that you are the owner of a start-up company called TheCompany. If you want to sell services to clients, you will need:

  • a domain (e.g. TheCompany.com ) and a web-site
  • a billing system

In this article we do not describe creation of your web-site, however this is an important part of your project.

To install a billing system, you will need:

  • A virtual or dedicated server. You may start with a VPS, as it is cheaper and easier to scale up. You can import your billing to a dedicated server, when you need more system resources. We recommend that you start with a KVM VPS, 2 GB of RAM, 50 GB of hard drive
  • An SSL certificate - because you will receive payments from your clients
    • We recommend using a domain something like bill.thecompany.ru. This will help your clients understand that they log in to their Client area. Besides, it will be easier for you to spell the name of the Client area for clients by the phone.
    • Use a single Wildcard certificate for all your servers

Shared hosting

You will need a dedicated server. You can start with something like E3-1231v3 \ 8 GB of RAM \ SATAx2000GB

VPS hosting

You will need:

  • A dedicated server with hardware virtualization support. E.g. Intel Xeon E5. E5-2630v2 \ 64GB RAM can run up to 55 VPS. Make sure that you server has sufficient RAM for VPSs.
  • A private IPv4 subnet or IPv4 addresses that will be allocated to virtual servers.

Dedicated servers

A control panel can be installed on a dedicated server or VPS. You may choose any configuration.

Make sure all your servers are housed in one data center.

You will need dedicated servers. You can

  • buy a server from one of the dedicated server providers (in this case they will be managed by your billing system, and you won't need a separate panel);
  • or
    • buy a server with remote control (IPMI\iLo\DRAC, etc.)
    • rent a rack in data center.
    • use managed switch

Step 3. Which software product to choose

We offer professional software products that you can use to manage your servers.

In this article we will describe ISPsystem's software products. To order licenses on the products described below, get registered at https://my.ispsystem.com/ and click "Order a service" on the Dashboard

Order-service-en.png

All software products have free versions:

  • A trial version of ISPmanager delivers the same functions as a commercail version. A trial version is provided for free for 2 weeks (given that no commercial license of the solution is currently assigned to this IP address, and the IP address has no license history). You can check it at our site
  • free versions for other products come with resource limitation. For example, in BILLmanager you can create only 50 client accounts.

Software products for all kinds of hosting

Depending on a type of hosting services that you offer, you may need the following software products:

BILLmanager

We will use BILLmanager 5 Advanced. This version delivers all the features we need, and performs the following operations:

  • Registers clients
  • Automatically activates services
    • supports popular domain registrars, and SSL certification authorities
    • creates and manages shared hosting powered by ISPmanager
    • creates and manages VPS hosting powered by VMmanager
    • Automates management of dedicated servers powered by DCImanager
  • Accepts payments
    • Wire transfer
    • Credit cards
    • PayPal
    • other popular payment systems
  • Generates reports
  • Manages support tickets from clients


How to install BILLmanager on a VPS

  • Install CentOS 7 x64 on your server
  • Follow the steps of the Setup Wizard

Repository - stable, version - Advanced

Order an SSL certificate for all of your domains here. We recommend using Comodo Essential SSL WildCard - one certificate can be used for both thecompany.com and its subdomains.

DNSmanager

To configure name servers for your clients, we'll install DNSmanager

Clients' domains will be located on name servers. You can use a free version, which allows you to create up to 50 domains.

Install the panel on the server with BILLmanager

Follow the steps of the Setup Wizard

Repository - stable, version - bind

IPmanager

You will also need IPmanager

This panel is used for IP address and networks management. You may use a free version, which allows you to create up to 2048 IP addresses

Install the product on the server with BILLmanager

Complete the steps of the Setup Wizard

Repository - stable, version - bind

Shared hosting

If you want to automatically register

  • users
  • web-sites
  • domains
  • mail
  • databases

you can use ISPmanager Business and integrate it with CloudLinux

Why not ISPmanager Lite? ISPmanager Business delivers the following features:

  • flexible configuration of user limits allows you to create various tariff plans.
  • if your server has insufficient resources, simply purchase a new server and add it to your existing system
  • CloudLinux advantages
    • If many users are hosted on your server, each user will be contained in its own 'cage' and won't consume other users' resources
    • Different PHP versions, including PHP 7, enable your users to host any site

Installation

  • Install CentOS 7 x64 on the server
  • Partition the disk, allocating the largest amount of disk space to / (root)
    • user data will be saved into /var/www
    • databases will be saved into /var/lib
    • the control panel is kept in /usr/local/mgr5
  • Follow the steps of the Setup Wizard to install the panel

Repository - stable, version - ISPmanager Business

VM hosting

If you want to automatically

  • create virtual servers
  • deploy operating systems
  • reboot, enable, disable servers
  • collect statistics

you will need VMmanager

VMmanager versions:

  • KVM is based on qemu-kvm virtualization enabling to create separate virtual machines on a single cluster node. This is a hardware virtualization, which allows your users to deploy any operating system on a VPS according to their needs. This means that we can crate about 20-30 VPS on one physical machine.
  • OVZ is based on OpenVZ virtualization. Virtual machines are separated on the kernel level by processes. This allows you to create VPS from pre-defined templates. However, you can install them only on a Linux-based system. You can create about 50-100 VPS on a single physical machine.
  • Cloud VMmanager Cloud is an advanced version of VMmanager KVM. VMmanager Cloud delivers functionality for creating a fail-over cluster. Learn more in this article. This version allows to automatically restore your client's VPS on available nodes in case of failure. Creating a fault-tolerant system requires more expensive equipment
    • 3 or more servers to create a cluster
    • separate server-storages to store VPS disks
    • fast connection between all servers

In our example we will use VMmanager KVM. Note: you cannot install VMmanager OVZ and VMmanager KVM on a single server. Setup and configuration of VMmanager OVZ is much similar to VMmaanger KVM except for differences in virtualizations.

Installation

  • Install CentOS 6 x64 on the server
  • Partition the disk to allocate the largest amount of space to / (root)
  • Follow the steps of the Setup Wizard

Repository - stable, version - VMmanager KVM

Dedicated servers

If you want to automatically

  • Inventorise servers
  • Deploy operating systems
  • Reboot, power on/off
  • collect statistics

you can use DCImanager

DCImanager versions:

  • DCImanager Essential can be used to manage several servers. It is suitable for service providers who don't have data-center facilities. With this version you can perform basic operations such as server deployment, traffic collections, etc.
  • DCImanager Progressive can be used by company of any size provided that the company has racks in data-center. It delivers the same functions as DCImanager Essential + automatic server search, enables to collect various statistics from servers, manage VLAN, and much more.
  • DCImanager Enterprise is an individual solution tailored to your particular needs. DCImanager Enterprise can be customized to offer one-of-a-kind functionality, so a service provider can get a custom-made solution which addresses his needs.

In our example we don't have racks, that's why we will use DCImanager Essential. You may use a free version to manage up to 5 servers.

Note: you can use DCImanager only if you your have your own servers or you buy them from a server provider and can manage them through IPMI. Otherwise, there is no sense in using DCImanager.

Installation

  • Install CentOS 7 x64 on the server
  • Follow the steps in the Setup Wizard

Repository - stable, version - DCImanager Essential

Step 4. Configuration

Once you are done with the installation, you can proceed with configuration of the control panels. We'll start with the supplementary products and proceed to BILLmanager.

Note: all ISPsystem's software products are integrated with each other, that's why you should configure them in correct order.

In our example we will install BILLmanager+IPmanager+DNSmanager on the server with IP 172.31.223.13, and assign bill.thecompany.com and ns1.mycompany.com domains to that server

DNSmanager и IPmanager

Install DNSmanager and IPmanager on a single server. Complete the following steps:

  1. DNSmanager preliminary setup
  2. IPmanager preliminary setup
  3. Integraion with IPmanager

ISPmanager

First, you need to think over tariff plans that you want to create. Let's consider the following example:

Limit\Tariff Alpha Bravo Charlie
RAM(MB) 256 512 1024
Disk space (Gb) 1 5 10
CPU (%) 25 50 75
Number of site 5 10 15
Traffic (MB\sec) 200 500 1000
Databases 5 10 15
Mailboxes 5 10 15

We will configure a server (its IP is 185.60.134.117) and assign it the isp.thecompany.com domain.

Complete the configuration steps in the following order:

  1. Preliminary setup
  2. Integration with IPmanager
  3. Integration with DNSmanager

VMmanager

You should also think over tariff plans that you want to create. Let's consider the following example:

Limit\Tariff Unaone Bissotwo Terrathree
Number of CPU cores 1 2 3
RAM (MB) 512 1024 2048
Disk space (GB) 10 30 50
Incoming traffic (Mbit\s) 10 30 50
Outgoing traffic (Mbit\s) 10 30 50

In our example we will use the server with IP address 172.31.223.20, and assign it the vm.thecompany.com domain

Complete the configuration steps in the following order:

  1. Preliminary setup
  2. Configure VMmanager address

DCImanager

Tariff plans for DCImanager are configurations of your servers. In our example we will use the server E3-1230-8G-2x1000SATA

In our example we will use the server with IP address 172.31.223.49, and assign it the dci.thecompany.com domain

Complete the configuration steps in the following order:

  1. Preliminary setup
  2. Configure DCImanager address
  3. Add servers in DCImanager

BILLmanager

Complete the configuration steps in the following order:

  1. Preliminary setup
  2. Integration with IPmanager
  3. Integration with DNSmanager
  4. Configure mail gateways
  5. Setting-up fraud protection
  6. Integrate the billing panel with processing servers
  7. Integration with payment gateways
  8. How to sell domain names via BILLmanager
  9. How to sell SSL certificates via BILLmanager (ResellerClub example)
  10. How to resell ISPsystem's software licenses
  11. Configure pre-defined replies and documents
  12. Configure BILLmanager address
  13. Integration with your web-site

Step 5. Extra features

With ISPsystem's software products you can create a "fault-tolerant system" for your clients.

High-availability is a characteristic of a system, which aims to ensures an agreed level of operational performance for a higher than normal period.

VMmanager Cloud

VMmanager Cloud Setup Requirements:

  • at least 3 physical servers for the start to ensure the best service availability.
  • a separate server to store disks of virtual machines. We recommend that you use a cluster of servers, such as Ceph

A fail-over cluster delivers the below functionality:

  • If the operational node where virtual machines are running, fails virtual machines will be automatically restored on available nodes
  • If the operational node where the control panel is installed, it will be automatically restored on one of available nodes
  • If the storage server fails, data will be accessible on the other available storage server

ISPmanager Business

ISPmanager cluster nodes can be created on a VPS in VMmanager Cloud enabling to:

  • use server resources more flexibly
  • back up\restore the entire node at once
  • migrate VPS to other physical servers, for example, to another data center
  • if a physical server with VPS fails, VPS will be restored on available cluster