Pair of scales is made of stones on the cliff

How to leverage between simplicity and new features? A message to DigitalOcean CEO Ben Uretsky (PART2)

Mitch Wainer, DigitalOcean Co-Founder and CMO  said on(check out the video) that they target and

owe their success to high growth startups  and individual developers.

Ben Uretsky(CEO of DigitalOcean) said for venturebeat (December 15th 2014)

“These providers(he was referring to the competition) focus on the technical features, and what we focus on is — this is why were highly differentiated — is we’re focused on people, and in this specific case, we’re focused on developers,”

He also said…

“I don’t think anyone really focuses on price,” Uretsky said — the directive is to ensure DigitalOcean remains user-friendly.


I agree with Ben – yes I‘ve chose DigitalOcean over RamNode not because of the price but because:

  1. they made their UI and UXD really simple
  2.  they have a beautiful  community site  (filled with so much useful Q&A that it’s unbelievable)
  3. other bunch of stuff that system admins and developers love (snapshots,backups,VPN, nice looking API documentation)
  4. Again…the community is of the charts good –this is the reason why I’m in a committed relationship with DO.

Bryan Liles ( A fellow Software engineer and also dealing with  Digital Ocean Strategy) mentioned two things(check out the video) that really caught my attention when he was asked about DDoS attacks and how they handle it.

He basically answered that they operate in a sense “I know a guy who knows a guy”, meaning they refer you to someone who can help you, they probably notice it before you, and it is an issue also for them (because it is also influencing their network obviously), but they will not jump in and solve it, saying in a sense that it is your droplet – administrate it the best way you can.

I hear what Bryan is saying,because with over 500.000 user –doing this  any  differently  would  be ludicrous.



So what is the solution and how to keep up with the

“Simple cloud focused on developers and growing startups”



They really need to think about it in this way….


Pair of scales that describes the situation DO is in
Pair of scales that describes the situation DO is in


In order to keep DigitalOcean in perfect balance between it’s new features (including existing ones) and it’s simplicity (the thing that got it where it is today) is… 



and can be divided into two parts:


1.Direct (Notifications, E-mail, Messages, etc.)

Here’s a problem I encountered while working with my droplet that could have easily avoided with good communication.

I have a droplet running Ubuntu 14.04 x64

The moment I had my droplet online it had around 12 bots scanning my page ( by looking at the logs I saw that most of them were trying to brute force my ssh root account).

So I found a solution and made changes to my SSH config file (/etc/ssh/ssh_config), changed the port number, removed permitrootlogin without-password

also I Installed fail2ban and  configured it.

My root password was strong to begin with, but I noticed that malicious by third party activity(bots,hackers) made my CPU and processes go up and in essence they were slowing down my server.

This could be an issue for the user and more work for you (tickets,complaints…etc.)

The thing is that this could be easily avoided by sending out an e-mail or giving a short message at end of the droplet creation…. something like this :

Hey Rene!

You’ve successfully set up your droplet with Ubuntu on it, please do the following to ensure your droplets safe future – as you probably know there a lot of bad guys lurking in the vast world of internet, trying to ruin your day. Keep safe by following these tips, tutorials,webinars…… – or reach out to our support team for some help.

DigitalOcean has a e-mail that is kinda warning you of this stuff…but not quite.


Keep in mind – developers are not system admins. Application security isn’t network /server security a typical developer will not know about ssh configuration or fail2ban (most of them do – but that’s only because we’re so awesome :) )

DigitalOcean….follow your own advice… check out this “develop strategies together” part of the video below – you need to be Jay the Sysadmin guy from the video to the girl(developer) approaching.

2. Through UI /UXD

Some inconsistency  in the UX/UI department

I mentioned some of them in the blog post about Ideas for DO


What’s up with the 3,2,1? What valuable info do I get on what is the best choice? Does it even matter?

Tell me if it does!


UPDATE(6th of August 2015)

I got response from the DO support team about the difference in choosing 3,2,1





This seems off – it seems as though this has been put here because a guy from support told the guys from product development that they’ve been getting a lot of tickets about data corruption problems, and the product development team reacted in a way that they told the front-end guys the usually response support guys give out to the customers :) , and I completely understand – obviously there a bunch of smart girls and guys working in DO but maybe they are really tight on time?


Let’s go on….




It would be great to have a “Access Console here” button



Tell me how to do it with my current droplet ( add something like take a snapshot of the current one…rebuild a new one?)

Another thing….

Sometimes I feel a bit anxious about using some of the features…especially snapshot where you have this loading bar that isn’t showing you what is really going on…you can just sit and wait…biting your fingernails…


Like this one…

-It would be great to have just a little loader…or something else to see if it is alive. Almost every-time I do a snapshot – I go out to take a walk because looking at it makes me feel like something is stuck, and I’ll have to hard-reset the server…and the data will be corrupted, and my client will go berserk on me…etc…




Don’t get me wrong -these are some of the things that I feel that are missing when it comes to DigitalOcean and it’s  mostly the way of communicating to developers / startups.

I realize that there is a huge challenge in  keeping customers satisfied by adding new features and keeping DO in a “simple cloud provider” state.

New features  tend to open a door to a simplicity killer(huge menus with a billion options) and that’s not something I want DigitalOcean to become.



Hope this review and Ideas will help DigitalOcean become a even cooler cloud provider.



Rene Brakus

In the IT industry for 8 years now - developer, system administrator, product manager...

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