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.