When I was a full-time freelancer, doing agency-type work, a big chunk of my business involved setting up and managing my clients' servers for them. In fact, this was part of my sales pitch to clients. I'm not just going to build you a site and leave, it went. I want to be your Web Guy. Call me and watch the magic happen.
There were many problems with this arrangement, including many that didn't involve server or IT management. But developing sites and apps is hard enough work without also having to deal with late-night calls because the server is down, and if I'd at least tried harder to push clients onto a single hosting infrastructure (like my pals at Blue Box Group), life would have been easier.
Anyway, I thought of this story because Happy Cog is launching a hosting service. (Here are posts about it from the HC company blog, Cognition, Cameron Moll and bikehugger.com.) And from what I'm reading, it sounds like that problem—that unfulfilled desire for clients to have a "Web Guy" who can just take their ideas and turn them into a working URL in return for payment—is what this product is meant to solve. I like it a lot.
When you hear that HCH is "LAMP stack hosting", you're probably thinking it's gonna be cheap. Like Dreamhost cheap. But it's not: there's only one plan, and it costs $799/month. I haven't heard anything about features, quotas, bandwidth, control panels or anything like that, but that seems to be the point. Happy Cog isn't charging $800 for the same crappy commodity PHP hosting as everyone else. In fact, it doesn't seem like they're charging for servers. Servers are cheap and complicated. Happy Cog Hosting is about giving people who run serious web sites the freedom from ever having to think about servers again if they don't want to.
In concept, it sounds like Heroku for non-technical web folk, like design directors or interactive producers at companies with real budgets and few or no in-house nerds. It's a place to put code that works.
None of my projects are appropriate for this kind of bespoke, white-glove treatment, and besides, I write my code bits in Ruby, not PHP. So I haven't tried HCH, and I'm not after a 'magic code' invite in order to try it.
So when I say I like this product, what I mean is: I like the idea of reducing hosting—one of the sketchiest, least fun aspects of my job—to a service that is priced fairly, Just Works, and requires little or no involvement by the developer or client.