VyOS cloud support platform strategy

Recently we have merged the old VyOS product on Amazon (which was free as in price) with the new one listed by Sentrium (reminder: the company setup by VyOS maintainers to provide commercial services for VyOS) that is available at ~$60/year as a means to support the project. It’s probably a good time to talk about our cloud platform support strategy.

It’s quite obvious that cloud platforms are popular, and that VyOS is often used as an alternative to their own VPN and routing facilities or proprietary products, because of both functionality and price. So far we’ve been providing our official EC2 AMI for free. This approach is not exactly sustainable since we ourselves do not benefit from it in any way, but the support level required of an AMI listed on the marketplace creates work that has to be done, and so far (past the initial contribution of the person who wrote the first AMI build scripts) it has been done solely by the maintainers.

And, let’s face it, VyOS needs funding sources. There are many activities that get virtually no community participation, including documentation writing, code refactoring, developing automated tests and so on. We are grateful to everyone who contributes, but that’s not enough to keep VyOS as a service provider and enterprise quality router. Migration to Jessie was the point when making an enterprise quality router OS by few people in spare time stopped scaling, and now, at least until we refactor the whole system to be easy to maintain and extend, either it's going to take a very long time to get done or we need a way to free the time of the maintainers and hire some community members (or someone else) to get it done at reasonable pace.

Some companies mentioned a possibility of corporate sponsorships but those offers failed to materialize, donations likewise have been enough only to pay for domains and some hosting. Switching to a RedHat-like model with paid access to LTS releases is something that we are considering, but not until a stable 1.2.0 release is made. As for now, an alternative revenue stream is needed to break the cycle, and making the official cloud images paid looks like the most viable option. This wasn't an easy decision, but it had to be made.

We've been keeping both the old (free as in price) 1.1.0 listing and new paid listing updated to 1.1.8 active for a while and so far the new one has been positively received and is already bringing us a small profit. We hope most of the old AMI users will choose to support the project as well, but if not, you have time until February 2018 to migrate your setup to self-built or community AMIs.

Most importantly

VyOS will remain free as in freedom forever — the goal of the project was and is to make a free and open source router that people can study and modify. It will always be possible to build a cloud image yourself and use it for free. While we hope most cloud users who run unmodified images will choose to support the project, trying to prevent people from building their own image would be against the free software ideals. We are also not going to hide the build scripts we use for building the official images, so self-built images will be identical to the official ones — without the convenience of deploying them in one click from the marketplace.

The AMI build scripts for 1.1.x can be found at https://github.com/vyos/build-ami

The build process is fairly straightforward and boils down to "./build-ami $isoURL". Right now it only takes signed releases and ourselves we test new images by upgrading already deployed instances to them, but we may add an option to allow building AMIs from unsigned images in the future.

Free access for contributors

The point of the whole deal is not just to make money for the maintainers, it's to make VyOS a better system and people who support VyOS by contributing to it are equally valuable as people who support it financially by using the paid images.
Everyone who had merged pull requests before this time or made substantial contribution to the documentation, automatically qualifies. New contributors who contribute to high priority areas (particularly, fix bugs in 1.2.0 and/or document the yet undocumented features) will also get free access. Active evangelists may also quality.

Sentrium Cyber Monday promotion: get some free hands on assistance hours with every VyOS commercial support plan

Hi everyone,

This summer,  Sentrium, an IT consulting company ran by some of long time VyOS developers and users, launched commercial support for VyOS, something that we think will make VyOS more attractive for enterprise and service provider networks and give the VyOS project some funding and ensure its sustainable development and growth.

We also would like to say huge thanks to all of our existing customers for the commitment to the VyOS project and for your trust in us! You are contributing to the VyOS development and we are really happy to see such interest from companies around the world. Thank you!

Based on these few months of experience with VyOS support, we decided to adjust our support plans based on customer feedback You can view the new plans at this web page: https://sentrium.io/vyos-commercial-support/

We tried to cover common use cases which we observing:

  • Small companies and nonprofit organizations with budget constraints
  • Companies with internal expertise which just need a “formal” support contract due to the business requirements.
  • Businesses who need phone support and hands-on assistance with strict SLAs for mission critical applications.

So, at a glance, how our support from vendors:

  • All support plans cover all routers in the company, no matter if this production instance, or you just spin up another VyOS in your lab. You don’t need get to pay more when your network grows, or wait to get support contracts for new routers.

  • Initial configuration and environment review is included in each plan, and this allows us to suggest config improvements and also shorten resolution times (we can go directly to issue, bypassing topology discovery)

  • We only employ people with real networking knowledge and do not do anything to artificially make response time appear shorter than it is (e.g. by sending a form reply). We do not offer guaranteed short response time for all plans, but you can be sure the first reply you get includes some useful information about your problem. For email support, relatively long response time also allows us to do some research about your problem, try a solution in a lab, or consult a maintainer or a contributor, if we cannot offer a useful response offhand.

From Cyber Monday and until end of the year we’ll be running a promotion: everyone who buys a support subscription also gets free hand on assistance hours. The basic plan comes with one free hour, the standard plan comes with four, and the production support plan comes with eight.

We know there are still a number of people running Vyatta Core and who may want to switch to VyOS. Switching to a new system is always a concern, so if you are using Vyatta Core, you can use the hands on assistance hours for migration to VyOS. But with all improvements and, most importantly, security fixes that have been added, and will be added by 1.1.8 and then 1.2.0, upgrade is very important.

If you are running Vyatta Core 6.5 or 6.6, it can be upgraded to VyOS as if it was a new Vyatta version, with a few minor caveats. If your version is 6.4 or earlier, there are some features that may require manual config rewrite, which shouldn’t take too long unless your config is particularly large. We have successfully upgraded versions as old as 6.0 to VyOS without any problems. If, no matter how unlikely, you are still using VC 5.0, things get interesting, since it didn’t have the image upgrade yet, but even that is doable and has been done before (though if you can, we suggest that you reinstall and we can help with migrating the config).

Commercial support and professional services for VyOS

From earlier posts, you may remember Sentrium S.L., an IT consulting company founded by one of the VyOS maintainers and two long time VyOS users and community members.
In this post I (Daniil Baturin, that is) speak as a Sentrium founder, so "we" refers to all Sentrium employees, not to all VyOS maintainers as usual.

Now Sentrium is ready to offer commercial support and professional services for VyOS.

We plan to use funds towards VyOS project in various ways, including hiring people for both short-term/long-term tasks like bugfix and feature implementation, documentation improvements, VyOS events, building VyOS testing labs available for all contributors, development of training and certification programs and much more

Small businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofits may be eligible for discounts (subject to review, please contact us for details).

If you are interested, drop us an email to sales@sentrium.io or visit our website (http://www.sentrium.io/).

Commercial support

We offer two types of support plans at a fixed price:

  • Basic: email support only, response within two business days, 1500 eur/year
  • Standard: email support only, response within one business day, 5000 eur/year
To clarify it: it’s not 1500 or 5000 for each router, it’s for the entire company (single legal entity) no matter how many routers it uses.

VyOS support includes answering questions that you may have about VyOS, its installation and upgrade process, features and their usage and so on. We also can review customer network diagrams and config files and suggest what features and protocols to use and what changes can be made to optimize performance and scalability.

If you find any bugs or have any feature requests, we will help you figure out the details and reproducing procedure (in case of a bug) and communicate it to VyOS developers. We also offer external monitoring and emergency security notifications as part of support plans.

Custom support plans with different terms, such as included phone support, shorter response times or 24/7 support, hands-on assistance, etc. are also available since everyone's needs are different, and it's hard to devise a one size fits all solution, the cost is negotiated on case by case basis.

Professional Services

Professional services include VyOS installation, upgrade, migration from competing platforms, configuration according to requirements, troubleshooting and so on.

The base rate is 200 eur/hour, though depending on the complexity of the task and environment it may be lower or higher.

updated offering published here