RimuHosting specialises in providing virtual private servers; they have 3 data centres in the USA and do about 10 terabytes of traffic per month.
Currently have 4 tech support staff (and looking for more), doing about 1300 support emails per month.
Peter first used linux in 1999 (using RedHat 6), working for a startup in Seattle - trying to get Oracle working on their cluster of 6 dual-p3 600MHz machines. Although the "dot-com" crash hit hard, their company survived due to having a stable business model. He eventually moved to Cambridge (NewZealand), and finding it difficult to get cheap host servers/shell access, he decided to set up RimuHosting.
Investigated UML vs the commercial Virtuoso, and decided on UML. In July 2005 they started using Xen. UML == a linux process running inside linux. Xen = "hypervisor" running on hardware. "ring 0" - about 50% more efficient; Xen can allocate "real" memory while UML uses virtual memory inside the main linux OS.
New chipsets supporting virtualisation - Intel VT and AMD Pacifica - so-called "ring -1" will allow unmodified OSes to run; ring 0 currently needs (slightly) modified kernel for some syscalls.
Initially rented servers from co-lo; the CPU and disk were adequate but VPS needs lots of RAM; many of their VPSes only have 96MB.
2GB of RAM allows about 15 VPSes per machine. After encountering a bad batch of HDDs they now always use RAID. They now buy machines from "rackmounts" in San Diego from a guy called "Brian" - Duel Opteron 246 with 8GB RAM, 3x 200GB HDDs for RAID1+1spare. Peter's never met Brian, nor visited any of the data centres or seen any of his servers. Software raid makes it easier to move drives around, no bios access needed.
About 50% of their hard drives in New York DC died when they lost power uncleanly (in the big power outage in August 2003).
The support team use jabber internally; they generally do free suport tasks for customers if they think it will take less than 15 minutes to complete; building up a repository of commonly requested tasks.
Most exploits that they encounter are in poorly written web-apps, and dictionary passwords. Credit-card fraud is occasionally a problem.