Cloud Computing Provider Joyent Discontinues Lifetime Web Hosting Deal


Cloud services provider Joyent alerted customers this week that it will soon be discontinuing its “lifetime” web hosting deal that it first announced more than six years ago, according to a report by Network World.

The move comes just a few months after Joyent launched Joyent Cloud Europe, an extension of its US-based cloud to provide infrastructure-as-a-service in Europe.

In 2005, Joyent — which was operating then under the name of TextDrive — launched a lifetime access to web hosting services for an initial fee of $499. This week, the company informed its customers via email and its website that it is ending the lifetime deal on October 31, 2012.

Many of the affected customers are visably upset about the decision to end the service because they considered the initial $499 fee as a crowd-sourced venture investment to help kickstart TextDrive. And after upholding their end of the agreement, these customers view Joyent’s decision to end the service as a broken promise.

However, it can be argued that any “lifetime guarantee” for a web hosting service should be taken with a grain of a salt considering the constantly changing landscape and technology of the Internet.

According to an archived posted on Joyent’s community forum, the lifetime deal included 15 top-level domains, 20GB of bandwidth per month and 2GB of storage space from TextDrive, and a “complete hosted application suite” from Joyent for up to five users for the entire duration of the company’s existence.

“For many business reasons, including infrastructure performance, service quality and manageability, these early products are nearing their End of Life. We plan to sunset these services on October 31, 2012,” Joyent officials informed select customers, according to an email user Ken McKinney posted on his Google+ profile. Similar letters were posted by other Joyent customers, all noting that users receiving the email were “one of the few customer still on our early product.”

To soften the blow, Joyent is offering customers a free year of one of its SmartMachines services.

Joyent CTO Jason Hoffman apologized in a post on the Joyent community forum, explaining how Joyent’s business model and the hardware that supported the free web hosting service was “too old”, adding that it was not worth replacing and was simply costing too much to maintain.

“I’m sorry that I’ve lost that trust and I’ve upset you. You have a right to be upset. This was a tough decision with some nuance to it and none of this is lost on me,” Hoffman wrote in the thread. “It’s ironic that our biggest advocates are the ones most affected by this… I can’t make the argument as to why it can continue.”

Joyent provides a range of cloud computing, analytics, storage and networking feature. Earlier this year, the company secured a new round of $85 million in venture capital funding.

Talk back. Have you previously been affected by the discontinuation of a lifetime hosting service? How did you deal with this situation? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

  2. Ed

    It was simply business reasons to discontinue it. And offering a small VPS for lifetime would have cost a lot more, not to mention the shared hosting is 10 times less performing then the SmartMachines VPS. So they could not afford to give their new plan away for lifetime, while there is no current plans that fits their previous life time account. So they decide to discontinue. The problem was that the Joyent did a text book example of poor compensation and making a bad PR with bad press all over them. HN and some other place are flooded with complaints. Joyent could have offer many better alternatives. The latest news is that Joyent has decided to allow a full refund of those lifetime account or get a 5 year free starter SmartMachines VPS account.

  3. I don't understand, if the company can offer its customers one year free on one of its SmartMachines it can surely continue the lifetime offers on the SmartMachines isn't it? I can't make argument as to why it CANNOT be continue? Though it was stated that they have many reasons, since they list down the three I assumed the 3 to be the more important ones. infrastructure performance - SmartMachines should be more capable right? service quality - Is the Cloud performance unable to achieve the service quality of the old hosting plans? manageability - Once in the SmartMachines, I assume that Cloud management is just one click on the controlpanel. Maybe Joyent can enlighten me on the queries, I am not their life long customer, but just very curious after reading this article. I am sure that Joyent Cloud Services will be far more efficient and I am sure that their old and loyal customers will not mind the shift. Correct me if I am wrong.