As a company, DevPanel is a "Benefit Corporation" setup to promote professional growth of all developers around the world. More about this later... but let me (Salim) first tell you more about how DevPanel came about.
For years I've run a small consulting company, more a lifestyle business than anything else, helping others build, host and manage websites and web applications. For hosting, we mainly recommend and use AWS.
The idea of DevPanel came about because we repeatedly saw companies having these issues:
- Inability to test sites/apps properly
- Mainly due to the difficulty in creating disposable test environments
- Lack of comprehensive knowledge of AWS
- leading to incomplete and improper configuration of environments
- including misconfiguration of live environments exposing vulnerabilities
- Difficulty in managing infrastructure and costs on AWS
- mainly from improper resource management
- because people were too busy developing and not having enough resources for management of resources
- Different companies spending loads of money developing same infrastructure patterns on AWS..
- ..Which is great for consulting companies and agencies but a total waste of time and money as a whole.
- Oh, and each and every implementation was a snow-flake, difficult to maintain, and riddled with issues.
- Who needs this? no one!
Here's what everyone wanted:
- Simple setup process
- Automated maintenance and self-healing infrastructure
- Secure configuration
- Auto scalability (for cost & load management)
- Ability to develop, test and deploy to live
- Support when needed as needed
- Simple and fair pricing
What was actually needed was a wrapper around AWS to codify/manage People, Processes and Technologies. Developers know their art but giving developers direct access to AWS can be risky. But if Developers, and even Junior Ops people, only had access to execute approved processes, with a UI that's simple and easy to use, and a system that automates 95% of their day-to-day operations, then they're good to go! For Technologies, we have access to all the tools on AWS. But it's easy to do a lot of damage, intentionally or accidentally, with such powerful tools when not configured correctly. So we would have to take over the AWS account and handle all the configuration ourselves.
After that, we thought what if we help developers do it right. What if we eliminate the risk for businesses. What if we just help our users configure their own AWS infrastructure properly in their own account. Then we just charge them for saving them time, assuring them that things were done correctly, and configuring stuff to save our customers money. And if we're not in the middle of our users and AWS, transactionally, then we don't have a conflict of interest in really helping our users. So we can provide a good product that delivers tremendous value at a fair price.
That's how DevPanel was born.
Welcome to DevPanel. We hope it lives up to our aspirations and actually helps you with your work.
Let us know if/when we fall short or when we're not walking the talk.
DevPanel has gone through many iterations where we experimented with making things easier for developers on all platforms (like Digital Ocean, GCP, AWS, etc.) but with time we realized that we were giving up many of AWS' best features for the sake of compatibility. That's when we said screw compatibilty! AWS had everything we wanted and more. Since we were setting up "opinionated" environments for our users, and since AWS, in our opinion, was the best platform out there, then screw everyone else. We'll just stick with AWS. That thinking led up to the current (and the most complete) version of DevPanel.
There was a lot of internal debate about pricing. Lots of people argued that we're leaving money on the table with the current pricing scheme. But I still hold that a product/service should provide SO much value for the money that you'd be stupid not to use it. I actually have to thank Karim Lakhani who planted the seeds of the current pricing model at our first pricing conversation. He thought it could benefit everyone and change the industry, let's see.
Why a "Benefit Corporation"?
IDK, shouldn't we all aspire to make a difference? do something good? give back? Open Sourcing the back-end was actually done for three reasons... one was for strategic reasons because we felt that it'll make the software better and better over time - and everyone will benefit from this. The second reason was so that we could partner with schools to offer DevOps classes to the up and coming developers and students. If you know of schools (or individuals) who are willing to work with us in developing DevOps course based on AWS using DevPanel, we'd love to hear from them. We would like to integrate and teach the best practices and technologies in these courses. But it wouldn't be just about technology... we'd also teach them how to "fish" - we'd teach them how to start a business around AWS and become self sufficient. We intend to make the course material avail for a nominal fee* to schools and training companies - and then leave it to them to adapt and spread that knowledge to the masses. I'd love it if you would help us in this mission. The third reason was that if/when we go out of business, our users wouldn't be left hung out to dry.
* all the fees would go back to the course developers
My (Salim's) own journey
For those who know me, you know I've been working on this for some time... I thought of it more as experimentation and something I personally was learning from. I guess I'm a slow learner :-) In hindsight, I could've/should've done a better job. I guess that, in itself, is a good lesson to live, observe, and learn from. When it comes to making mistakes in business, I could write a thick book on things not to do :-) Regardless, I'm grateful to all the people who brought DevPanel to fruition. You know, they say "it's the journey not the destination," right? well, I can tell you that it's been quite a journey :-)
About the advisors
Everyone needs someone to save them from themselves at times, right? Its so enlightening when someone points out something you're blind to, right? It's so cool when someone takes time to show you how to handle some situation, right? Well, I have these people to thank for that. I feel blessed.
About our AWESOME Team
What do they say... "Teamwork makes the Dream Work!" Right!? :-)
IDK how else to describe them. They're AWESOME! It's a group of small independent dev teams that came together to build DevPanel. It's a true motley crew. The talent each person brings to the team is simply incredible. Without their hard work and dedication, we would have nothing. I, no, we owe them everything. They made it all happen. This IS DevPanel: