More ZetaPanel 2.0 Prep

We are getting closer and closer to our ZetaPanel 2.0 launch, however we have realized that the distrobution we use now, is not what we really want to be relying on anymore. We currently run the last releases of Ubuntu on our machines, however in recent release we have been noticing that Ubuntu repo’s are starting to stay really stale, and not getting latest versions or even latest stable versions of important software we use to keep opensim up and running on top of our own infrastructure. So we are going to be migrating to Debian, one of the oldest linux distrobutions, that operates on rolling release. This is not a very large crazy change, as Ubuntu is actually built on top of Debian.

Why Going To Debian?
Debian unlike many distributions, is a rolling release with several branches. We can run from old, stable, and testing. This means, that we can use Debian on our servers, and just do our regular updates and pull in the latest stable code. Debian team is very large and backed by many enterprise and corporate sponsors. However, even thought that is said, it is much like opensim in the since that it is not owned by a pacific company and it is truly free and opensource operating system. However, it being in existence for so many years, it has made itself known as one of the most stable linux distributions around.

The other reason for Debian being our choice, is we believe in opensource software and technology. Debian by default only uses opensource free technology in their development. This means you can take any part of the Debian operating system and make changes to it legally, just like you can with opensim. We feel that this is a perfect match for us, to have both the operating system being as opensource like the platform opensim is opensource.  This makes us feel more comfortable, as we continue our development of ZetaPanel 2.0 which we will be offering as SaaS(Software as a Service) and giving out parts of its source code on github and bitbucket.

What Does This Mean For Me?
This doesn’t mean to much directly effect you the customer, other than we will experience a breif interruption in our services when we migrate from Ubuntu to Debian. However, we will just be moving you to our redundant servers and just cycle people through until we get everyone moved around successfully. So in other words, very little downtime and some small interruptions.

When Does This Go Down?
We are planning to do this the first week of the new year, so from January 6 to the 8th. Again, our customers will only experience up to 1 to 2 hours of downtime during this whole process, this is because we plan to rotate our clients around on other servers, and do them one at a time. Meaning, little to no downtime for many.

So will ZetaPanel 2.0 Be Ready Aftwards?
Yes, in fact this is part of the reason we are doing this transition. We needed a system that has up to date packages we can rely on that will make sure our ZetaPanel 2.0 software will run properly. It will be our final step to bringing ZetaPanel 2.0 to the public for thier public usage. We are very excited about this and can’t wait for everyone to start enjoying ZetaPanel 2.0.

Zetamex Update

First off we want to apologize for not keeping up with our updates like we wanted to in the past, but this is something we are looking to get back into the groove of doing here very soon. We are quite busy and have a lot of things in the works, and our client base just keeps growing, which has meant our servers have had to grow. So instead of doing bullet updates, we are going to just have blogs that hit on key points of what is going on at Zetamex.

ZetaPanel Development

We been working on ZetaPanel 2.0 for quite some time now, and we just can’t seem to find the most secure way to build it. We really don’t want to release a product that is vulnerable to attacks or allows our customers to have their accounts hijacked. We also want it to be easy to use, while also being clean and friendly.

We don’t have a release date, but we wanted to toss out some of the features we expect to be included in the release of ZetaPanel 2.0 some will be included and some will come with extra cost. These features include: Restful API, Themeing, Ajax Response, Region Access Statistics, Live Region Status, Backup Utilities, Rename Region, Move Region Cords, and more to come. This is a lot of work on our part, and we are very happy to say we can’t wait to finish and show it off. The sleek interface is built on top of Bootstrap to ensure a very nice and crisp feeling while in the control panel.

OpenSim For The Masses

It came to our attention quite quickly, that people on both end of the spectrum responded to our ending of free accounts. Some people wanted insight to this, and we had to close it down was due to the fact in the recent months we have nearly tripled our user base. With the introduction of many of our new tools coming out, such as ZetaPanel 2.0 it was actually a technical road block to keep the free service. 
The way our back-end is being rewired, wouldn’t work for how our free customers were setup. Some people might say, why not just change it to work with how the new setup will be then, right? Well, that is not as simple nor affordable as you would think. Currently the free plans which are expiring run on shared instances with other regions of the other free users, with our new system we are installing with ZetaPanel 2.0 that would not be possible. We would have to put each user on their own simulator, which if we did that would increase overhead, thus increasing server costs. ZetaPanel 2.0 is literally being built into our servers, and running not as a stack on top, but as a built in service to better let us serve our customers in here in the future.
So with hearing the true cries of some people just can’t host their own regions, we wanted to do something about that. Giving everyone the chance to experience OpenSim, and well that is going to be a bit financially hard to do in the beginning but we hope that users will pitch in what they can. Our free service will also be allowing the region to attach to OSgrid, Metropolis, or ZetaWorlds. We will not favor one grid over the other, all get the same free features. At a “pay what you can, when you can” pricing model. Something that we think will actually sell, and it will be opened up for people who want to sponsor the program for those who just join for free to help us cover those costs, where their names will be on the special sub site as sponsors of the program.
We are still working out of the details of this program, and we want it to succeed not just so we can eat at night, but so that everyone can enjoy OpenSim, that wants to enjoy OpenSim. We know that OpenSim is the future, and we want to be ready for when that happens, and be the company known that lead the way to the provide an easy way in.

ZetaWorlds

The ZetaWorlds project has a lot of stuff going on right now, especially many things we haven’t been very public about as it may disappoint some people. But we wanted to share some of the things we have been using, which we don’t recommend for production use just yet, unless you know what your doing.
First off, we been doing our best to help out Fernando of Oliveira Virtual Lands, another OpenSim hosting provider specializing in region/simulator hosting. He has been hard at work on the PostgreSQL database functions of OpenSim and we have been doing our best at assisting him as much as we can along the way. Though many of our contribution had been reverted, due to finding out their were better ways. 
He has been working on a module for the PostgreSQL branch, which might not get pushed back into production branch of opensim, and right now I say DO NOT USE IN PRODUCTION UNLESS YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND EVEN THEN MAKE BACKUPS OF YOUR BACKUPS, BACKUP! Which the service is Asset De-Duplication. The way he has currently done this, from what we have tested and seen working, and we use in ZetaWorlds right now, every asset during upload gets md5 hashed, checked against the database, and if it is already there, it doesn’t add it, just links the inventory item to it. This is a major bonus! 
Now, at the moment. This is VERY VERY EXTREMELY EXPERIMENTAL, and honestly why ZetaWorlds has the giant warning label on it saying “Register At Your Own Risk” because their is the potential for data loss. While places like the new Nara’s Nook are backed up daily, but so far we have noticed no issues with it for the most part. Only just simple maintenance of our PostgreSQL database. It has really surpassed our tests in speed over SRAS, which kinda impressed us as it uses PostgreSQL instead of File Based like SRAS. Now again, I can’t stress it enough, DO NOT USE this unless you are really ready to loose data, and NO, the conversion tool he is working on at the moment does not de-duplicate the assets, and I don’t know if he plans on adding this function. But we are proud to be helping Oliveira Virtual Lands out, to where all grids can benefit from our joint efforts.

Announcing Zetamex’s new Pay What You Can Regions plan!!!

          Good Evening Everybody,

     Its Jared Shipp, COO of Zetamex, once again with some more information on our new plan. Tim and I were watching yesterday as everybody responded to the announcement for the shutdown of the free accounts. As you spoke out your opinions and thoughts over everything we at Zetamex wrote and talked about your opinions and after some discussion on things have come up with an option.

     First let me start with this, yes we are going to go ahead with the shutdown of the current free accounts. All current free member will still have till the December 17th to upgrade before services will be ended. Along with the one time offer of 25% off on the Standard Simulators plan that we normally offer for $20.

     How ever starting this Saturday, we will be offering a bran new plan, brought on by the idea of pay what you can, when you can idea. What this means for our free members is that, they have a second option for those who cant afford to pay a certain amount every month. With this option those who cant afford to pay the monthly price will be able to sign up for this and pay what they can when they can, some what like an honor system.

     What does this mean? Simple when you sign up for this account you choose the amount you can pay, you pay it when ever possible, and this includes even paying $0 at the start. This way your not pressured to make sure you can meet a high monthly cost while at the same time when you have that little extra to put out, you can help contribute to the services you are using.

     Though with this idea there are some rules that the users will have to agree to and set things to, and they are as followed.

+ Must add “Region Hosted by Zetamex http://zetamex.com/” in your region’s about land

+ Must make at least one post a month on our community forum http://forum.zetamex.com/  (so that we know your still active)

+ Not exceed prim limit of 5,000prims

+ Have “Timothy Hoxley” on your region’s Access List

+ Not use more than a total of 3 scripting time

You also understand the following:

+ Regions are hosted on discounted unused cloud power

+ Because the bullet above, there may be times your region is unreachable

+ You do not get a control panel

+ Community Support only (unless private issue, then tickets allowed)

     So we at Zetamex hopes that this plan born for those who are in need of help, can help those who have trouble getting hosting. This will allow free users to be able to sign up, and be able to have a region while paying what amount they can, when they possible can.

Notice to Free Accounts

          Hello everybody,

     I am Jared, COO of Zetamex. I  writing today to inform all clients who have free accounts, that we’ve decided to discontinue our free services. We’re sorry that we have to quit offering free services but the company is growing to rapidly to continue to offer this, at this time. We may in the future offer it again, but for now we are shutting down the free services. Though with this bad news are do have some good. For all current free members, we are offering a one time upgrade from free to paid at a reduced price on our lowest package.

     Our Stander simulators offer, which is $20, is available to you at 25% off. So instead of paying the full $20, you will only have to pay $15. This offer will be available until the day after we shut down the free services, which will be December 17th. For anybody who is looking to upgrade from free to the speical offer. Then please submit a ticket letting us know you wish to upgrade before the cut off date, and then everything will be taken care of for you.

     Finally, we are also backing up everybody’s oars, whether you upgrade or not, and they will be avablie to download for those wanting their region oar. If you wish to get a copy of your region’s oar then please just sumit a ticket letting us know.

          Thank you for your time, and best wishes,

     Jared Shipp

UPDATE: Our support ticket system is located at http://support.zetamex.com/

Emegency DNS Recovery (Resolved)

[Resolved 12:38 EST] Restored main Route
We have successfully restored the main route, and are now adding host files to our servers in case the DNS issue should ever occur again the system will know where to pull assets without the DNS service.

[Started 12:30 EST] Problems DNS to Husky (central DB server)
We are currently setting up emergency routes to our backup DNS for some reason it did not kick in manually. We are going into all grids accounts that are currently effected by this issue. Please stay tuned here for further updates.

New Backend With More Power

It has been a gueling week, and we are still not done. We have redone our entire infurstructure and there is still more work to be done on it. But we are happy to report that it is 80% complete, and most of our users haven’t notice but a few small issues, which we have already resolved most of them.

Over the next few days and weeks, you will see more information about our back-end come up on our blog here and about our servers. We want our residents/customers to know their data is on a very secure and redundant network of servers both in the cloud and in data centers. We have even taken the time to name all our servers after animals, just because it will make it easier for us to explain to people and reference them.

Click to Enlarge

Now to explain our entire layout, so lets start by explaining how when you first connect to any of our services.

1. When you first connect to any zetamex service, you are actually passing through our Cloud DNS service and CDN(the CDN is still not in production until we figure our a better solution for serving opensim through it). This service constantly checks all our sites, grids, and cloud servers making sure if the main instance is down to reroute you to the new emergency instance automatically without any notice to you.

(If your logging into a grid)
1. You now get passed to the cloud, where all our sites and grid’s login services are handled. This grabs everything about your account on whatever grid your on, then forwards the cloud instance sends your login response to the regions your teleporting too.

1 (ERROR RESPONSE). If you try to login to the grid and the cloud DNS detects the grid is down, it will immediately tell the cloud to restart the machine the grid is on and send you to the backup server so you don’t experience an error.

2. You arrive in our datacenter after being passed through our cloud instance, then you passed to the right server followed by correct simulator the region you want to be on. Your avatar only periodically pings in on the grid server on the cloud when you do IM’s, Teleports, and other grid related activities.

(If you just have a simulator hosted with us)
1. You teleport to your region in your grid you have the region hosted, and the grid will query the correct information from our cloud dns service that keeps track of all services incase emergency restart is needed.

——
Now to explain what our Backup Datacenter is used for. (this is due to launch into production in the next month or two. Currently we do daily dumps into our storage provider for backups and run all our servers in RAID to be prepared for a hard disk failure.)

We use cloud storage and have two full really powerful servers on standby should any of our other servers experience a failure or issue. These two servers constantly mirror all data from our servers in our main datacenter. This allows us to restore service in the case of an emergency. Then these servers dump nightly to our private cloud storage provider who versions and keeps all data backed up and stored.

We will be letting you know more information soon as we finish the rest of our setup and introduce new features.