Updates for February: Billing and backups

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It’s been a bit quiet on our blog for the last month. That doesn’t mean we’ve been doing nothing. Actually, we’ve been so busy that we kind of forgot to update our blog :) So here’s a short overview of what we’ve been working on lately:

First of all, we’ve been busy with our internal business processes. One of the things our customers might have noticed is that our invoices are now build up differently and have a new look and feel. That’s all part of our new improved billing infrastructure. Our new infrastructure will make it possible to add new billing features more easily, some of which are currently under development.

Secondly, we’ve been working very hard on a backup service. Initially, we started working on an rsync+ssh/rdiff-backup based backup solution. Once we got everything working with restricted chrooted shell accounts and quota’s, we realized that we weren’t actually building a backup solution. Rather, we were building a place to store files. We weren’t satisfied with this (partial) solution and in the end we decided that this solution would be insufficient. We got rid of it all and started over.

After evaluating various options, we’ve decided to start implementing a backup solution based on Bacula, a very mature open-source suite of backup tools. When we’re ready, all that our customers will have to do to start making backups is to install a (non-intrusive) agent on their VPS (available for most if not all Linux distributions, FreeBSD and Windows) and our system will handle the rest. On Windows, the Bacula agent even utilizes VSS features to make consistent backups of your files. It also comes with a basic console that customers can use to trigger a backup manually or restore files (even to a different server if you want).

We will be able to show backup status through our website and send notifications to customers if one or more backups have failed, trigger backups, restore files and fine-tune backup settings like backup schedules, retention periods and file excludes. Not all these features will be available from the start, but will be quite easy to add later on.

In the meantime we’re using Bacula to backup our own infrastructure (in the spirit of “eat your own dogfood”). Once we’re satisfied that everything works as advertised and we’re done developing an initial set of features, we are ready for a first release to the general public. We expect this service to become available around April/May, so keep an eye on this blog for the announcement if you’re interested in this feature.

Thanks for listening!

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