What We’ve Shipped: 2018 Highlights & 2019 Goals

A while ago, we wrote about what Bytemark have learnt from working using Scrum for the past year and a half. So, as 2018 comes to an end it seemed like a good time to recap some of what we’ve shipped over the last 12 months using this process.

It’s been an exciting and busy year of responding to industry developments and listening to customer feedback to continue improving our services and provide the best hosting solutions for you. There have been brand new features like Docker, updates to make existing features faster and easier to use, and widespread changes that applied across industries, like GDPR. Let’s take a look at the highlights!

Shipping Timeline

Before we get into the highlights reel, it’s worth mentioning that by no means does this post cover everything our teams have worked on in 2018. But it does provide a good overview of the wide range of updates we’ve been able to make to our platforms and the new services we’ve been able to offer customers.

January: Better Service Status Updates

Transparency has always been important for our customers, and so it’s a trait we value highly. To start the year then, we made improvements to status.bytemark.org.

We’ve been reporting all of our outages for years. But we wanted to make it clearer for everyone to see when issues were expected to be resolved. To do this we added the following:

  • Five new issue categories – Investigating, Monitoring, Scheduled, In-Progress and Resolved. These allow you to track the progress of an issue being fixed.
  • An expected resolution time which staff can update, ensuring it is as accurate as possible.
  • @BytemarkStatus – a Twitter account solely for service updates. All issues will be posted here.

BytemarkStatus Twitter

March: Do More in Bytemark Panel

When we shipped these Panel updates, what we changed came almost entirely from user feedback. It was great to be able to hear what needs you were asking for and implement them. Here’s what was improved:

  • Billing – You can now quickly view all of your invoices and whether they are paid or unpaid. Any outstanding payments can then be made in Panel, rather than by calling support.
  • Control of IP Addresses – There is now a dedicated section for networking and IP addresses. Manage your IP addresses, load balancers and more, all from one place.

April: Clearer Documentation

Our expert Support team write detailed documentation to help you to get the most out of Bytemark’s services. But the articles weren’t always easy to find and navigate. We fixed that by:

  • Adding a search bar. So you can now search for a topic e.g. ‘backups’ and find all related posts in one place!
  • Using category tags. We grouped articles on the same topic e.g. DNS or Docker, meaning you can access all relevant posts in one click.
  • Adding dynamic contents widgets. When you’re reading a long article, you can skip straight to the section you need by using the contents widget.

You can also now rate whether an article was helpful or not, which means we can continue to make improvements to our documentation.

May: GDPR Legislation

By now, you might just be looking back on GDPR as the annoying increase in emails that you received around the middle of the year. But the change in personal data protection laws also led to some updates to our legal agreements. We clarified our relationship by:

  • Updating our privacy policy to explain how we act as a data controller.
  • Notifying customers in Panel to review the terms and conditions they had accepted.
  • Automatically closing dormant accounts and anonymizing closed accounts to protect your right to privacy.

If you’re interested in finding out more about anything we shipped in the first part of the year, Peter (Product Owner) wrote a January to June roundup here.

June: Adding More Cloud Native Features

ISO imaging and IP addresses had already seen some key updates back in March. But in order to provide you with the latest cloud-native technology, continuous improvements are needed to offer more functionality in fewer steps. So we shipped these additional features:

  • IP Re-Routing: You can now move IP addresses between VMs in Panel, enabling continuous and more creative deployment.
  • Custom ISO imaging: This allows you to run almost any operating system on Bytemark Cloud and reduces setup steps, leading to a more efficient workflow.

July: Dynamic Billing

  • Dynamic Billing: Eligible customers are now on Dynamic Billing. This charges you for your total usage at the end of the month, calculated per minute. Read more about our billing updates here.

September: Introducing Docker & Load Balancers

Continuing the mission to integrate more cloud-native technology into Bytemark’s offerings, we added two brand new features:

  • Docker: A simple Debian based image to let you experiment with Docker
  • Load Balancers: Allowing you to get more out of your existing infrastructure by distributing high traffic spikes and increasing redundancy for critical services.

Both of these features have already received further improvements. Sticky sessions were added to prevent loss of user state information when using load balancers, and a Docker Machine Driver was written to allow you to carry out docker-machine commands.

November: Improving Security & Migrations

After adding some new features, we turned our attention back to improving areas where you had asked for updates. In November we shipped:

  • API Keys. Rather than having to frequently request short-lived tokens to carry out dynamic infrastructure creation, you can now request long-lived API keys. These are privilege-limited so the necessary work can be carried out without giving whole account access.
  • Moving secondary discs between Virtual Machines (VMs). This makes migrations and updates much easier as large amounts of data can be moved instantly.
  • We continued to improve our billing functionality. We made invoices easier to understand, added service credits and added an account balance to Bytemark Panel
  • Usability improvements to Panel, including improved navigation and speed improvements.

December: Making Upgrades Simpler

One of our final releases before the office quietened down over the festive period was adding the ability to swap primary IPs between Bytemark Cloud VMs in the same zone. This allows you to redirect network traffic during application and specification upgrades – increasing the ease and decreasing downtime!

To request a swap, you can contact support@bytemark.co.uk.

To check out all of the features now available at Bytemark, log into Panel. Or, if you’re new then you can get a 7-day free trial to test things out!

What’s Next?

As you can see, using the Scrum framework has given us an organised and logic workflow, enabling us to get a lot done in the past year! We hope to continue updating and adding features in 2019. Here’s a first look at some of our goals for the new year.

  1. Rollout our fresh new design – you can get a sneak peek in our branding blog post.
  2. DNS Control Panel: Manage your Bytemark DNS from within Panel.
  3. Continuing to innovate with cloud-native technology.  Our first step will be launching a fully managed Kubernetes service in beta. Find out more and join the waitlist.

Bytemark Cloud hosting new branding

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! Keep your eyes on Panel for new features appearing and as always we will continue posting ‘What We’ve Shipped’ articles to keep you updated on the blog.

What would you like to see added to Bytemark Cloud in 2019? Let us know.