Hawk Host August 2010 News

Posted By: Tony Baird

Last Updated: Sunday August 8, 2010

I cannot believe that it’s already August it felt like just yesterday I was talking about how 2010 was finally here.  It’s about a good time to post about all the interesting things that have happened in July and what is coming in August.

New Servers

We’re constantly growing which means we’re always adding new servers and July and early August we added a bunch of machines compared to what we used to add a year ago.  We added Mirage on July 5th which is our first reseller only server and it’s based in Dallas.  We then added yet another reseller server this time Tornado which is in Seattle.  Then finally we added Lightning to increase our shared only fleet in Dallas.  We’ve been working towards having shared and reseller separated rather than being creative like we had in the past.  Due to our increasing size it is now possible to do this as we fill our high end servers much faster than we used to.  Along with these new servers to put customers on we’ve added a second development / test server.  This will allow us to continue to test new features and not slow down development of other features.  We now have a total of two servers for this function with one being for our VPS panel and another being for cPanel testing.  Of course we can change their purposes very fast thanks to Softlayer so it’s quick for us to reload a system to test something else.

New cPanel Theme

We’ve been talking about doing this for quite a while but it’s always been something that is along the lines of we’ll do it eventually.  Well that’s finally over we finally got around to working on it.  Right now it’s more cosmetic changes which you can see right here:****

We have other big plans for it though as this was just the start.  Right now it’s a nice fancy new logo up top.  Along with that a bunch of useful links to parts of our web site.  This is by no means the final version of the design it’s just a start.  Along with that more features will be coming to our theme.  Here’s just some sample idea’s we’ve been throwing around: quick mod_security enable / disable, easy way to change php values (register_globals, upload limits etc.), easily switch to using google apps for email.  So look out for new features showing up in your cPanel over the next few months.

As for what machines this theme is on well right now it’s on Mustang, Spitfire, Voodoo and Lightning and any other *.hawkhost.com servers we add.  The theme portion will never show up on any of our legacy servers unfortunately.  There are complications that are only resolved on our shared hosting only servers.  What will show up however is any plugins we add to our cPanel.  So if we add the ability to turn on/off mod_security it will show up on all our servers.

CPU Usage Abuse Solution

As we’ve grown one thing that has grown with us is the CPU abuse we deal with.  Unfortunately as we become more popular more people who think our web hosting can be used as their own personal dedicated server show up.  As it stands we currently act on them as we see them attempting to warn users when possible to get them to reduce usage.  In really bad cases we just disable their account on the spot and email them.  Now the problem with this system is a large majority either do not respond or when they do they don’t ever resolve the problem and they get their account disabled repeatedly.  Also of course depending on their usage they may be causing slow downs of our servers.  Like any web host in our price range we do not have the time to be optimizing user web sites.  In fact I doubt any shared web host would be willing to go through and attempt to optimize user made scripts or figure out which of the 50 plugins installed in wordpress is causing the problem.

On Frog Host we previously had our own system to report CPU usage to the users.  This was great or so we thought we had measured CPU and MySQL usage in units and reported it to the others.  Unfortunately though no users are actually using this data to possibly reduce their usage.  So we finally realized we either were going to need to make our own system more pro active or find software that would.  If we went our own route it would have been a system where a users site shows suspended for a period of time after using X amount of CPU for x amount of minutes.  This just did not seem ideal as we’ve read about providers doing this and all the complaints they received as a result.   So obviously we went looking for a much better solution and we found one.

Cloud Linux ended up being a solution people had started talking about.  We threw it up on our test server checked it out and it was really impressive.  It is now running on Frog Host and it’s been extremely impressive.  It has helped us stop users from abusing CPU while not giving them ugly suspended messages.  The idea is if you’re using a lot of CPU rather than slowing down the entire server you slow down just your site.  This is an excellent solution to CPU abuse we think and greatly reduces the amount of time we currently have to spend working with users on them using to much CPU.  It’s probably a bit away from showing up on Hawk Host servers but it is in the running as our solution for both Hawk Host and Frog Host considering how great it’s doing on Frog Host thus far.

If it does end up being our choice we will of course add useful features for users to help see what their usage is in real time.  So if your web site is slow you’ll be able to login to your cPanel and see how much CPU and memory you’re using.  You’ll also be able to hopefully bring up the process list and see which processes you have that are using all your resources.

New VPS Panel

It’s not vapor ware it’s still being worked on unfortunately never gets the priority it deserves.  We’re not a big VPS company we don’t have thousands of nodes so it’s a little tougher to justify spending a lot of time on it.  That being said I think we’re getting close with a lot of what needed to be done is done.  We’re working on adding some useful features and making it more user friendly.  So maybe later some posts will finally show up with some screen shots who knows.

Misc Things

Well our forum has a new logo that’s always good to have.  I personally got a new car and it’s not Hawk Host themed but instead red.  We added some banners for Hawk Host which can be found in our forums.  We’ve switched the way we do stats processing on servers we now use piped logging.  This should help with having less frequent restarts of the web server even though they’re graceful you’d rather not have them at all!  We’re looking forward to the new version of the support software we use Kayako SupportSuite which is now called Kayako Fusion.  If it does what it promises it should improve how we handle support slightly.  Softlayer our provider was sold to the GI partners but it should not affect us in anyway but it is worth noting.  Then finally we’ve grown exponentially as always which I’ll talk about in September as our corporate year end is August 31st.

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