guideline for name-based web hosting justification

Kent Crispin kent at
Thu Sep 14 21:56:22 EDT 2000

On Tue, Sep 12, 2000 at 10:10:13AM -0600, Alec H. Peterson wrote:
> If you don't mind sharing it, what percentage of your virtual hosts have
> these other services (SMTP/POP/IMAP/FTP/SSL)?  I'm just curious (I'm curious
> what percentage of people want to pay for it).

My tiny business caters almost exclusively to small businesses; in my
case all those services (with the exception of SSL), are part of the
standard package.  In other words, people don't pay anything at all
extra for them.  They pay $10/month to get it all.  Frequently there are
services that are part of the package that they don't use, at least not 

A great many small ISPs offer essentially the same kind of a package -- 
it frequently includes database support, shell access, and a bunch of 
other stuff, for incredibly low prices.  In my rudimentary marketing 
stuff, I refer to this as a "virtual host" site to emphasize that what 
the customer is getting is a package of services that look like their 
own host on the internet.

Setting up a virtual host site for someone is mostly automated -- once
the infrastructure is in place it doesn't cost appreciably more to set
up someone with the above services than it does to just set up a web 
site.  They fill out a form and the whole thing is set up from that.  
The biggest headache is dealing with the domain name -- if they don't 
have one they have to try to pick out a good one; if they do have one 
you have to deal with the various issues of effecting a transfer.  

By default, I assign an IP address to every such customer.  To do
otherwise would be simply stupid -- converting someone from a name-based
web site to an IP based web site is not much work, but it is the same
amount of work as setting up the site in the first place, and the real
cost is the human intervention of making the change. 

What I think is fundamentally flawed with the new policy, from the point
of view of a business like mine, is that it in fact takes the
justification for use of an IP address down to the individual address
level -- you have to look at the characteristics of how each virtual
domain is used before you can decide whether it is justified to assign a
separate IP address.  This makes no economic sense -- the incremental
monetary return for the use of the IP address is tiny -- less than the
policing cost of scrutinizing the use the customers make of their
address, or of maintaining. 

I may not be expressing this well, but to back up a level, it seems to
me that this policy is reaching the point of diminishing returns -- we
are becoming insanely penurious.  We are like starving people fighting
over crumbs.  Indeed, we can talk about modifications to apache, and
pop, and imap and ftp and everything else so we can conserve a few more
precious addresses.  But the deployment of those changes is a large
project in itself, and that energy is ultimately wasted.  In my opinion
we would be better off to just run out of addresses, and thereby force
changes at another level. 

Kent Crispin                               "Do good, and you'll be
kent at                           lonesome." -- Mark Twain

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