How to gamify server rental at a discount by linking the site to the internal administration panel

Six months ago, at Selectel, we launched an interesting mechanism for promoting servers at a discount that grows in front of a potential buyer. They called him


– in honor of the Dutch auction, which works according to the format of lowering the price relative to the original one. I’m Sergey Kovalev, Selectel category manager, and I’ll tell you why we launched such a thing and how it works “under the hood”. And I will also give a couple of tips on how to wait for the maximum discount and not miss the desired server.

For the most attentive – a contest where you can win bonus points to your Selectel account, or merch (if you don’t need bonuses).

Why did we launch an auction?

Dedicated server auction is a service that allows you to rent the desired configuration at a favorable discount in a few clicks. This is an example of a win-win strategy: activity is useful both for customers (they get a server at a great discount), and for us as an infrastructure provider. I will list several reasons why we came up with an auction. If not interested, go to the block
“What’s under the hood?”.

Wanted to be more flexible in managing the rental of certain configurations

We have over 20,000 clients, big and small. Some can rent more than 100 servers at a time, and after a few months, at the end of the project, rent them out. Others order servers for tasks, taking into account seasonality, the appearance of new hardware, changing needs and the market.

Sometimes there is an imbalance, and the remaining configurations become suboptimal for us (by the way, I wrote earlier how we control the number of components in stock). We want to prevent such distortions, quickly manage our offer and disposal of equipment, including with the help of discounts.

We were looking for opportunities to reduce prices for services

At the same time, we could not simply give a constant general discount on all servers – we could harm the business economy. What was needed was a less rigid mechanism. In that regard, what we called an auction seemed like the right format. Clients received a fair price for the server at the moment and positive emotions from making a successful, profitable purchase. Some may even feel a little excitement hunting for the lowest prices.

It was necessary to stir up interest in configurations with older hardware

Selectel has many models of dedicated servers – now you can choose from more than 100 ready-made configurations. These are available servers on desktop CPUs, database servers with high-frequency processors, and multi-core processors for virtualization. Even servers with ARM chips and 128 cores.

When a new generation of processors appears on the market, we try to do everything so that it appears in our data centers as quickly as possible. With the advent of new CPUs, the list of ready-made configs is updated. So, after the release of the next generation of Intel® Xeon® E processors, we updated the offer, adding fast NVMe drives to the server along the way.

As a result, within the same group of configurations, hardware differs by generation


  • Intel® Xeon® E-2236 (3.4 GHz, 6 cores),
  • 32GB DDR4
  • 2 × 480 GB SSD SATA.


  • Intel Xeon E-2386G (3.5 GHz, 6 cores),
  • 32GB DDR4
  • 2 × 960 GB NVMe SSDs.

In general, our new hardware began to compete with the old one. It was necessary to maintain interest in cool configurations with less modern components (for example, with a previous generation processor).

How it works?

Everything new is well-forgotten old. Several years ago, at Selectel, we already tried to implement a similar promotion – then the auction mechanics were slightly different. There was a pandemic and a crisis of chips – they decided to abandon the continuation of the action. By the way, the very idea of ​​a server auction is not unique: for example, Hetzner has been using this mechanic for a long time.

A few years later, they decided to return to the idea only in an updated form – resources appeared for its development. From the point of view of mechanics, we chose the most transparent and understandable type of auction for the client – the Dutch one.

A Dutch auction is a type of auction where the auctioneer starts with a high price and gradually lowers it until a buyer is found who is willing to buy the item at the specified price.

For users, the auction looks like


.On the page we see a constantly decreasing price for a number of servers and the time until the end of the auction. After clicking on the “Order Now” button, the client immediately receives a server at a discount. At the same time, the price for it is fixed, and the final discount is not limited in time – the client will pay the reduced price for the server for as long as he needs this server.

This auction format differs from the well-known English auction format, where bidding starts at a low price and increases as each bidder bids higher. The auction continues until one bidder makes the highest bid and walks away with the item purchased as the winner. The English auction option seemed to us more difficult to implement and less transparent to the audience.

In a Dutch auction, there are no up bets, no expectations of results, and no direct competition with other bidders. Unfortunately, many people are not familiar with this auction format, so some users found the mechanism incomprehensible. I had to slightly change the interface and “highlight” the conditions for buying servers.

What’s “under the hood”?

Synchronization with the administration panel

Every day we analyze sales statistics and we know the configurations of dedicated servers that we would like to use in the auction. Lots are created from the list of such configs. At the moment, all lots are added manually to our corporate server administration panel, which we call Seido.

The main part of the “schedule” of auctions is formed several days in advance, but there are also “hot replacements” – in this case, the lot is added unscheduled. When do they happen? For example, a large number of available servers have appeared, or, conversely, customers have ordered all available lots at the auction. This is done so that the offer is always formed for users, and also takes into account our interests.

This is how the summary table of lots looks like.

And so – the window for adding a lot.

It specifies the parameters required to start the auction. The end date of the auction is calculated automatically, depending on the starting and maximum discounts, the step and frequency of their application. All auction lots are launched with a non-zero starting discount.

Displaying data about the auction in the Telegram channel


is carried out automatically using a bot that interacts with the administrative panel API.

After the appearance of the lot at the auction, a notification arrives in Telegram:

Also in the channel, we notify users about lots that will soon be removed from the auction:

Processing data from the landing page in the administration panel

In addition to the fact that data is output from the internal system to the landing page, there is also an inverse relationship. Any visitor to the landing

can offer

your version of the configuration for the auction. To do this, leave information about the desired server in any format convenient for you: a link to the config on the Selectel website, the name of the configuration, or a list of the main characteristics of the server.

The completed offer card appears in the Seido administration panel. Next, we are considering the possibility of adding the proposed server to the auction and, if it is, we will add it within the next few days.

How to pick up the desired server with the maximum discount: life hacks

Since the auction has been running for almost half a year, we were able to draw some statistically confirmed conclusions about the interaction of users with it. Based on these figures, we can formulate some recommendations for successful participation in the auction.

Let’s look at the statistics:

– Data on the average discount and redemption time can tell you at what segment of the auction the lot you have your eye on can be taken away by your “competitor”.

– In order not to follow the auction page as maniacally as the status of your brokerage account, subscribe to Telegram channel. There you will be notified about new items, as well as configurations that will soon be removed from the auction. The latter means that a decent discount has accumulated there, and no one has taken the server so far.

Examples of the most profitable auction deals. The client will pay this amount during the entire period of operation.

By the way, the lots that live out the last hours on the sites are highlighted:

– Use the “feedback” form, where you can recommend your config. This is really a working tool to promote your server to the auction. For example, if we see a lot of demand for some server with a GPU, it will definitely appear among the lots.

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Plans for the development of product automation

Right now we are adding about 20-25 lots per day and it takes time. The plans include automation, within which we will only indicate the sign of configurations, by which we will filter the possibility of their participation in the auction, and the maximum discount. Further, the algorithm and the great random will themselves form the auction schedule and add lots.

At the same time, the possibility of manual control will remain – for example, for the rapid replenishment of configurations from customer requests.

Other than that, we’re trying to make the auction clearer and easier to use. Therefore, most of the features are aimed precisely at this. For example, now we are thinking about how to make the notification of subscribers about new lots more flexible.

If you have ideas on how to make the auction more useful and easier to interact with, write in the comments or in private messages.

Contest: When writing the article, I could not get past the hype around ChatGPT and generated several paragraphs of this text using a neural network. The first person who guesses at least one of these paragraphs in the comments will receive a bonus 2,000 rubles on the Selectel balance. They can be spent on any of the company’s services. Write your options in the comments.

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