We recently changed our tag-line to: the fast, reliable localhost tunneling solution
I thought I might write a few words to explain why we changed it, and how we expect to live up to this promise.
PageKite was born out of a frustration with how difficult it was to self-host a website. Configuring routers and dynamic DNS, forwarding ports, registering domains, buying SSL certificates... the laundry list of things one has to do to make a home server visible to the world is really quite daunting. Going through the steps is an excellent learning experience and can be lots of fun, but it is also a significant barrier to people who are less technical, or are simply not interested in low level networking.
From day one, PageKite was conceived as a true alternative to in-the-cloud hosting. We want to make all those hard problems easy and make self-hosting a realistic option for as many people as possible. We are still working on this - it is a hard problem. As far as we know, we are still completely unique in this mission.
Since we launched our beta service, it became apparent that PageKite also has great potential as a tool for web developers. More potential users, great news! However, in this space we are not unique and actually have a fair bit of competition: localtunnel, showoff, roomahost, tunnlr, ...
In a market that seems to be getting rather crowded, the text-books say it is important to differentiate. So what makes us different? How are we better than the competition?
We are different because of our core mission. An alternative to in-the-cloud hosting has to be fast and reliable. So we designed and built PageKite with those qualities in mind. Before we even launched, our service had the following unique properties:
- We run multiple relay servers (front-ends) in diverse geographic locations - most of our competitors only have one. This makes our service faster and guarantees that even if one server or network becomes unavailable, others are ready to pick up the slack.
- We carefully gave
pagekite.py the ability to reconnect and reconfigure itself in response to network outages and changes. The same code chooses the closest, fastest front-end relay to guarantee maximum performance.
- We built automated monitoring systems, which constantly probe and test our service so we can respond to malfunctions as quickly as possible.
As a result, even though we still carry the "beta" tag, most of the time PageKite is fast and just works. When we do have a problem, it's news and we blog about it. Conversely, when we search the Internet for information about our competition, it doesn't take long to find complaints about unreliable service and unexpected behavior. This is not really a surprise - getting from "good enough for running some tests" to "good enough for permanent hosting" is a massive amount of work which simply wasn't justified for their projects. But for ours it was critical.
So that is how we are different. PageKite is the fast, reliable option.