OpenSRS: Reseller Friendly since 1999

The platform: key to the hosting sector’s future

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of guest posts by Phil Shih, founder of Structure Research.

The hosting business is young and has a bright future ahead of it. But the market is getting tougher and big names like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are circling the sector. What can hosters do to fend them off? What are the keys to competing and winning long-term?

platformsThe best place to find the answer is to look at the sector’s success stories. In the cloud we only need to look as far as Amazon Web Services. In dedicated hosting SoftLayer went on a massive run with its automation mantra and in shared hosting we have seen hosters succeed by unlocking the up-sell challenge. What do these three success cases have in common? They were driven by a platform.

What is a “platform”?

What do we mean by a platform? In a nutshell, a platform is a unified and consolidated infrastructure delivery system built on a single back end (provisioning, management and billing) and consumed by the end user on-demand and in a highly automated fashion.

Amazon’s platform might not be the easiest thing in the world to use but for technical users it is a highly cohesive set of virtualized infrastructure services available through a single set of APIs. SoftLayer does the same but with a much better user experience and for a much wider range of infrastructure types (dedicated, virtual, cloud). And in shared hosting the providers that have prevailed have grown ARPU by enabling existing customers to easily buy additional services. A good example of a platform in the shared hosting market is Parallels Automation, which is user by hosters to deliver hosting infrastructure and SaaS applications from one back-end with a single front-end user experience.

Why Platform?

Why is the platform so crucial? Because it is the foundation of the two main ingredients for hosting success: backend efficiency and an enjoyable end user experience. Backend efficiency translates into margins. And margins mean more available resources for investment in marketing, customer support or product development. An enjoyable and efficient user experience means happy customers that renew and buy more services. It also means easier and faster up-sells. All this translates into margin and higher ARPU, which reinforces customer stickiness.

Make no mistake. The platform is the key to the sector’s future. Hosters have to continually be ruthless about efficiency and margins and the platform ensures that. There are well-resourced challengers encroaching on the sector and hosters will not be able to leave anything to chance. With an increasingly competitive landscape and tightening prices hosters will also have to boldly differentiate. The platform is uniquely positioned to solve that problem by creating user experiences that convince customers to eschew other options.

Platforms are not a new thing and they are far from revolutionary. But the sector will need to continually perfect and refine them in order to keep the challengers at bay. For those hosters with messy and legacy-oriented backend systems they should be thinking now about how to integrate them into a platform. The good news for hosters is that there are few fundamental game changes in hosting. The sector moves at a deliberate and evolutionary pace. There is time for hosters to get this right and remain a viable and valuable option for infrastructure service delivery.

Beware of DNS services “invoices”

A company by the name of DNS Services Corporation is apparently sending out letters to domain registrants that look very much like an invoice for DNS services. They are likely scraping public WHOIS records to get the names and addresses of registrants to do this.

Like the Domain Registry of America (DROA) and Domain Registry of Canada (DROC), DNS Services seems to think it’s perfectly reasonable and ethical to get their customers through these types of practices.

A scan of the letter that they send out is shown below (click it to see a hi-res version). We’ve taken out any personal info, but you can see it has been made to look very much like an invoice, and the text indicating it isn’t an invoice is very easy to miss.

dns-services-letterThere are two great ways to protect your customers from getting letters like these.

  1. Use Contact Privacy. We provide it for free on all domain registrations (where the registry allows it). With Contact Privacy info shown in the public WHOIS, we’ll end up getting these letters instead of your customers. We already get a ton of them from the Domain Registry of Canada which we properly dispose of for recycling.
  2. Educate your customers. Let them know about these types of practices and explain that they should simply discard the letters, or get in touch with you if they have any doubts about any payments or invoices they receive. Your customers will very much appreciate this help – it’s a great part of the service you provide to them.

If you or your customers run into any other examples of these types of practices, feel free to send them our way through the Community Forums at our Help & Support portal, or email Reseller Support. We’ll let your fellow resellers know so we can reduce the effectiveness of these types of mailings and hopefully make the whole practice go away.

Thanks to very much to Nancy from Aardvark & Associates for bringing this to our attention and shame on DNS Services for using this tactic.

Q1 2013 Domain Promotions

Q1 2013 Promotions2013 is here, and that means new domain promotions to tell you about. We’re streamlining our promotions program this year to make things easier for you.

We’ll be announcing promotions quarterly, and each promotion will usually run the duration of that quarter. We’ll do our best get the word out about upcoming promotions a few weeks before the start of the next quarter (sometimes we get the news from our registry partners at the last minute).

Q1 2013 Promotions

We’re running promotions on .INFO, .MOBI, .PRO, .CO and .ME this quarter.

Like most of our promotions, you must sign up to qualify for the discounts. We pay out in the form of a rebate, deposited into your Reseller account at the beginning of the month for transactions processed in the previous month.

We ask that you sign up for each promotion separately because each promotion has different terms and conditions as set out by the registry operator. Usually, that means you agree to do some promotion of domain that is on sale. That can take the form of a banner ad on your homepage, an email blast, a blog post, or even just highlighting the specific extension in your search results.

Visit the domain promotions page to see all the Q1 2013 promotions and to sign up for those you wish to participate in.

Happy selling!

A Review of 2012 at OpenSRS

It has been a busy year at OpenSRS, so I thought I’d take the time to look back at some of the highlights.


We bought epag in 2011, helping us add over 100 new second and third-level extensions to our portfolio. But doing so took plenty of development and time incorporating them into OpenSRS, making it easier for you to do business around the globe all from a single platform. And we’re not done yet!

Working Better with Third-Party Systems

We joined the Parallels Domain Name Network early in the year so resellers can signup to sell OpenSRS directly within Parallels products. Plus we’ve been testing updated and more robust plugins for WHMCS.

goMobi Updates

We’ve had goMobi available for a couple years now, but I think you’d agree some great new features were rolled out this year to make it worth a mention. Some of the new features included: custom icons, live previews, more sharing options, more site templates, custom background images, plus many more. We’ve seen incredible interest in this product, and can’t wait to see the new sites you build with it.

Ting Offers

We rolled out a revenue sharing Offer for Ting, the Tucows mobile phone MVNO in the US. While still new and relatively small, we’re very excited about the growth in Ting and working with our resellers to expand its reach. And for resellers who’d like to try before recommending Ting, we launched trial program called Taste of Ting.

Webmail 5.6 

Our hosted email product got a nice facelift on the front-end and some much needed upgrades in the backend. Although email suffered some unfortunate outages this year, we’ve removed the main source of the problem from our infrastructure. 2013 should be much smoother…

Super Low EV Pricing and UC/SAN Certs

In September we cut pricing on Extended Validation certificates across the board to be industry leading; and boy have you seized the opportunity. Making the jump from OV to EV certs for the better features is now a much smaller price gap; which is a great value proposition you can make to your customers. Perhaps 2013 will be the year DV certs go away…

Help & Support Upgrades

Part of being “Reseller Friendly” is providing a great customer support experience. To help us achieve this for you each we’ve begun rolling out a few ‘upgrades.’ First, the new support site which brings together in one place our announcements, knowledge bases and forums; plus a robust ticketing system. We’ve also begun asking for feedback after each ticket is resolved and closed; not only telling us how we’re doing but giving insights into how we can improve going forward.

We’re delighted to have you as part of the OpenSRS ecosystem; and we’re looking forward to surprising and delighting you in 2013.

Holiday Hours from December 25, 2012 – January 2, 2013

Happy Holidays to you and yours from the OpenSRS team!


We’ll be taking some time over the next week to enjoy the holidays with our families and friends. Here’s our holiday hours by department.

Hours by department:

Department Dates and Hours
Reseller Support No phone, email or live chat support from 5pm on December 24 until 8am on December 26 and from 5pm on December 31 until 8am on January 2.
Payments Closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1, with reduced staffing on the remaining days.
Compliance Closed December 25 through January 1 inclusive.
Service Bureau (for transactions requiring manual processing) Closed on December 25 and 26 and January 1 with reduced staffing on the remaining days.

Our normal hours will resume on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013. Best wishes for a prosperous 2013!

Change to Ting end user offers in January

I want to let our US resellers know about a change we are making to your Ting promo codes.

Starting on Tuesday, January 15, 2013, all codes that currently offer $50 discounts to end users will now be offering a $25 discount. The 25% revenue shares or $50 bounties to resellers associated with these offers will remain the same.

Please be sure to revise all communications that promote the $50 by then. Also feel free to let your customer know they should “act now” to get a deal they will not be able to get anywhere on January 15.

The simple explanation, after almost a year of analysis on the business, is that $50 is just a bit too much to maintain the margins we (all) need on a customer and that $50 now seems unnecessarily generous for a service that is saving even the smallest businesses hundreds of dollars a year.

Of course, the most important thing is that you will still have the best possible offer a customer can find anywhere. To be clear, we will be reducing absolutely any promotions out there to $25 as well.

Many of you have $75 service credits, with no associated revenue share or bounty, that we offered you to sign up yourselves and your employees. Those can still be used discreetly.

Along with this change, all codes that currently offer $25 discounts to end users along with either 30% revenue shares or $75 bounties will be disabled. These have not been used much since, presumably, most of you only wanted the very best offer you could get for your customers. And with the best offer coming down now, there really isn’t room for these any longer.

Also, starting today, if you have not already generated a $50 discount code, you will not be able to generate a new one. Again, if you already have these codes, they will continue to offer a $50 discount until January 15. But we figured we would not make offers available anymore that are soon to be extinct.

We know it is never easy to offer the customer less. We hope this does not create disappointment.

We continue to focus on crafting an offering that:

- Extends significant value to your customers.
- Provides healthy, sustainable margins to you.

We remain confident that Ting does both. As always, we appreciate any feedback or ideas.

Making Reseller Support Better

We’re working on making Reseller Support better.

That’s pretty easy to say, right? I know I’ve said it to resellers myself when I’ve talked to some of you at trade shows, or on the phone.

It’s also pretty easy for you to respond with, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” or something similar. That’s probably a fair response. I know where you are coming from. We know where you are coming from.

What “Better” Means

“Better” is a neat little word. As a writer, I love to think about words and “better” is one that has a lot of nuance.

Better doesn’t necessarily mean awesome. It can mean awesome – as in, “Remember that great dinner we had last week? This one was better.” But “better” can also mean terrible – as in, “An expired can of tuna on stale crackers for dinner is better than nothing.”

One thing that “better” implies is that there’s a comparison going on. In the case of Reseller Support, it’s this – “That interaction I just had with Reseller Support was better than the last one I had.’

We’re working right now so that when you mark an issue as solved, you’ll say to yourself, “Yup, that was better again!” In other words, we’re improving things with a recognition that our work will never be done, and that we can always “do better”.

You are the best judge of what “better” means right now. Maybe for you right now it’s “okay” or “alright” (or even “terrible”). Eventually “better” will mean great and then a little bit later on, “better” will mean awesome. We’ll get there in time.

Measuring Our Progress

In order to know whether we are getting better, we need to be able to measure ourselves against some standard. We implemented Transactional Net Promoter Score surveys last week as one way to measure whether we’re getting better over time. Read more about that here.

We’re also quantifying some standards for Support so that we are able to easily measure our progress.

You deserve to know what those standards are so that you know what to expect, and so you can hold us responsible if we fail to meet them. Here are the objectives we’ve set for Reseller Support:

  • Phone support: Call 1-888-511-7284 (U.S. and Canada) or +800 371 69922 (International) between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST (13:00 and 23:00 UTC) and a live person who is able to help you will pick up the phone within 20 seconds. Outside of those hours, you can call and leave a voicemail message, or you can email Incoming voicemail and email is monitored 24/7 and critical issues will be addressed as required.
  • Email support: We will answer your email support request within 24 hours of receiving it (often much more quickly). You can email anytime and the 24 hour clock starts when we get it, no matter the time of day. Support staff will respond to incoming support requests between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST (13:00 and 23:00 UTC). Outside of those hours, incoming email is monitored 24/7 and critical issues will be addressed as required.
  • Chat support: Live, online chat is available between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST (13:00 and 23:00 UTC) at A live person will respond to your chat request within 20 seconds.

Those objectives are measurable and clear. We either meet or exceed those standards, or we don’t. If we don’t, we’ll address the reasons why so that we can again consistently meet and improve on them. More importantly, we think that making this commitment is just our starting point. Our intention is to provide you with the best service in the industry. Not just better support. The best. And every time we make it “better”, it is just a next step to best.

We want to share more with you

That’s a lot to digest in a blog post. We want to tell you more, and get into some of the details and thinking around what’s happening with Reseller Support.

We’re inviting you to attend the webinar we’re hosting on Tuesday, December 11 at 11:00 a.m. EST (16:00 UTC) to get some more in-depth information about what we’re doing to make Reseller Support better.

It will be an open and honest discussion about Reseller Support with a view to the future described above.

We hope you can attend and even if you can’t view it live, register for the event anyways and you’ll automatically get the reminders and a follow-up email with the details on where the recorded version can be viewed.

You can register here.

goMobi v1.8 to be released on December 17, 2012

On December 17, 2012, goMobi plans to release v.18 of the goMobi mobile website service.

Like all goMobi releases, there’s nothing you need to do as a reseller or goMobi customer. New features will automatically show up for all users on the release date as goMobi updates the application on its servers.

New Features

Version 1.8 brings a long list of new features including a new Site Navigation Menu bar, Google+ integration, the ability to hide features from the homepage and more. Additionally, this release addresses EU Cookie regulations.

More information

More information and a rundown of specific changes that are part of this goMobi release can be found in the OpenSRS Help & Support site.

Announcing Taste of Ting

One of the biggest requests we’ve heard from potential Ting resellers is an interest in trying out Ting before recommending it to clients. We think that’s a great idea! We now have 10 35 HTC EVO 4G LTE phones to ship out for a 30-day trial. We’re even including a $25 service credit to help you get started and to test out the network in your area. Plus, you’ll see how great the Ting user experience is, from the online tools to the help forums to the customer support.

To get started, click on over to to sign up. We’ll let you know once a device is ready.

Update: the first batch of devices will be going out next week.

Update 2: demand has been higher than I originally expected, so I’ve added more phones to the trial pool to get devices out to you as soon as possible.

Verisign and the US Department of Commerce – Our Take

This morning, it was announced that Verisign and the US Department of Commerce had come to an agreement that allows Verisign to continue to operate the .com domain for another six years.

What was missing from that contract was the hot topic of conversation this morning – Verisign no longer has the right to four price increases of 7% over the term of the agreement. In other words, .com domains will likely remain prices at $7.85 until November, 2018 when the new agreement comes up for renewal again.

Verisign does have the right to increase prices if they can prove “extraordinary” expense resulting from and attack or threat of attack on the security or stability of the DNS. Any price increase would require Verisign to prove that the increase served the public interest before the Department of Commerce would approve.

Verisign could also seek a price increase if it could prove that market conditions no longer warranted the new restrictions that are put in place with this agreement. Again, that would require Department of Commerce approval.

Tucows’ Take

Elliot Noss, Tucows President and CEO, says that the new agreement between the Department of Commerce and Verisign “rights a wrong in the last contract.”

Tucows has been very outspoken about .com pricing, and we were clear at the time of the last renewal that we did not believe Verisign should have been given the right to price increases.

It’s good news for registrants and the Internet as a whole.

Elliot also suggests that the new contract could even turn out to be good for Verisign going forward. The previous contract provided them with an opportunity to raise prices. As a public company with a fiduciary responsibility to maximize shareholder value, Elliot notes that investors, who often think in the short term, would put immense pressure on Verisign to exercise those price increases.

He goes on to suggest that having the option to raise prices four times in the next six years may have turned into a competitive disadvantage for Verisign given the new gTLDs coming online within the next 12 to 18 months.

By not having price increases available to them as a way to grow revenues, Verisign is will be driven to more efficiency and innovation. Certainly, the conference call Verisign hosted this morning featured a lot of talk of innovation, patents, and the addition of new value-added and revenue generating services like Distributed Denial of Service attack protection.

One thing is for sure, and perhaps this is the most important part of the contract extension announcement: Verisign continuing to be the operator of the .com extension for the next six years is great news for everyone. Verisign has proven itself to be an exceptionally good operator of the root. From a technology and service perspective, .com is clearly in good hands.

You can read the US Department of Commerce statement here.

[cross posted from the Tucows blog]

We really want to know how we’re doing…so we’re going to start asking

Last year, we began to ask you a simple question on a quarterly basis: “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it that you would recommend OpenSRS to a friend or colleague?” This was a global survey that related to OpenSRS as a whole.

This one simple question is the cornerstone of the Net Promoter Score model currently in use with many global brands and industry leaders such as Intuit, Zappos and Apple.

Starting on December 4, 2012, you will be asked to answer this question after every interaction you have with Reseller Support.

Your answer to the question will provide us with valuable feedback concerning how you feel about your interactions with Reseller Support, whether it is by phone, email or chat.

Why are we doing this?

  • To identify what we do well
  • To find out where we are coming up short
  • To follow up and fix issues in a timely manner when things go off the rails
  • To give you a chance to voice your opinion and help us improve future support interactions

How will it work?

Beginning December 4, 2012, you will start to receive an email a few hours after your support request is closed.

This email will ask that one simple question: “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely is it that you would recommend OpenSRS to a friend or colleague?” based on your most recent support request. It will also provide a free form text field for any comments you may wish to add. We ask that you score the support interaction and provide any relevant comments.

We understand (based on feedback from past surveys) that the question seems a bit odd to some of you. Putting aside the notion that you’d be suggesting that someone start a business that might be in direct competition with you, we ask that you consider it hypothetically and honestly. Assuming it would have no impact on your own business and you would like the other person to be successful, would you suggest to them that they use OpenSRS?

What happens to the data?

Management or support staff will review each and every response. Depending on the your response, follow up communication may occur.

Thanks in advance for your help and honest responses. We really do value your opinions and we look forward to providing an improved support experience to you.

New Webmail Transition Update

It’s been about three weeks since all users of OpenSRS Email Service were moved to the latest version of our webmail application.

Since the switchover, we’ve heard some great feedback from you and your customers. We know from experience that users are generally resistant to change, so we always go into these webmail upgrades with a bit of trepidation. Forcing change on people who might not immediately see the benefit can result in some unpleasant feelings for the users, and often has an impact on you and your support staff as users are supported through the change.

As hard as change can be, we knew that webmail was getting a bit long in the tooth and the new version brings some ease-of-use features and other changes that we feel makes it worth the effort.

Thanks for the great feedback

As mentioned, we’ve received great feedback over the last few months when the new webmail was first made available to users. Now that we have many more people using webmail as the default, we’ve identified a few bugs that weren’t exposed in the months of limited release and by our extensive internal testing. Some of the minor bugs (small visual or usability issues) have already been fixed.

We’ve also learned about some bigger issues including things like a printing bug that was discovered in certain situations when using IE8, some problems with Scandinavian language display, and a visual issue with the Address Book when performing certain tasks. Additionally, we’ve identified some performance and speed issues in certain circumstances.

Our development and operations teams are working hard to fix these bugs and issues – fixes will be implemented in a matter of days in some cases, and over the next few weeks in other cases. Overall speed and performance is something that we are continually working to improve and we’ve made that a high priority in the near term.

Let us know what you think

Thanks again for the feedback – keep it coming! Drop by the Help & Support site and let us know what you or your users are seeing (good and bad), or get in touch with Support via email or phone.

December ccTLD-of-the-Week

We’re bringing back some past favourites this month, plus discounting an obvious choice for the Christmas holiday week: .CX from the Christmas Islands.

December ccTLDs-of-the-Week:

ccTLD Dates Details Cost/year
.ST Nov 26 – Dec 2 Sao Tome and Principe $13/year (normally $45)
.IM Dec 3 – Dec 9 Isle of Man $8/year (normally $15)
.LV Dec 10 – Dec 16 Latvia $15/year (normally $30)
.SO Dec 17 – Dec 23 Somalia $10/year (normally $20)
.CX Dec 24 – Dec 30 Christmas Islands $25/year (normally $35)

Happy Thanksgiving to our US Friends

Thursday, November 22, 2012 is Thanksgiving Day in the US. While we’re definitely thankful for a multitude of various things up here in Canada where OpenSRS is based, tomorrow is not a holiday for us. As a result, we’ll be staffed as usual in all departments.

We wish our American friends a Happy Thanksgiving and we hope you have an enjoyable day of rest and relaxation with family and friends.

Embeddable Ting Savings Calculator

Here is an easier way to tell your customers about Ting and demonstrate the savings they can receive. Use our embeddable savings calculator on your own site. We’ve taken out links back to, so all you need to do is show a link/banner with your referral code to direct people to the Ting site.

Here is the embed code:

<iframe src=”” width=”900″ height=”500″ frameborder=0></iframe>

If you don’t know what to do with that (or have any problems) and you would like to have a Ting savings calculator on your site, we are happy to help. Just comment here and we will have someone geeky get back to you.

And for larger customers, head over to the Ting marketing resources page and download our spreadsheet for calculating savings for clients with lots of devices. Its an effective way to show small businesses the ROI they can expect when they switch their company to Ting.

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