All too often we hear that so and so has secured x.000,000.00 of financing in round (x). What we don’t hear much about are quiet little companies who make niche products that people are actually willing to pay for, built by small teams and who are actually profitable and largely grow organically.
A new weekly series
Therefor I am starting a series of weekly articles covering companies ‘who actually make money’. Given I’m an application developer, the companies I like will be nerdy techie types. If you have some tips for companies you particularly like (in other sectors maybe), please let me know in the comments.
Expensive web control panels
One such company that I am in love with is called Virtualmin. Virtualmin is a web control panel on Apache for system admins. Built on top of the Webmin platform, Virtualmin allows complete control over (and the creation of) virtual servers.
If your asking ‘what is he going on about’, let me tell you the problem. Every web app / site sits on a server, but configuring servers is very complicated. Knowledge of Linux is needed along with an army of tools which are utilized through the command line. Control panels like Virtualmin help to sanitize the process by offering friendly user interfaces and doing much of the donkey work for you.
There are a few companies offering control panels (Cpanel, Plesk etc.) they can be expensive and while looking pretty, cost is very important to bootstrapped start ups (especially me) and this where the Virtualmin GPL (free) version excels.
When I had to move my own app up to a larger server, I found this wonderful company called Linode offering great deals for high quality / capacity services. Being a bargain hunter I signed up for a basic account then soon realized the catch. There was no control panel like on other virtual servers, in a nut shell, you had to know Linux. eerk.
Did I really need to learn how to use Linux?
The first response I had was to run, did I need the headache of learning all this when all I wanted was a bigger server? Hanging around for the duration turns out to have been one of the better decisions I have made along this windy unlit road.
Having control over every aspect of your own set up is overwhelmingly powerful, there are too many benefits to list but the breadth of tools I now have available make all the difference between a site that fly’s and one that grinds to a halt.
Companies who are looking for scalable and cost effective solutions to hosting their apps with 1 million visitors per month etc. would do very well to sign up for a Linode and install Virtualmin. The support on Linode has been exceptional and coupled with Virtualmin I think the combination is the best hosting solution on the market today.