An Interview with Meredith Livesay on Current Trends and the Future of Web Hosting
Marketing Manager for HostICan
HostReview had an opportunity to speak with Meredith Livesay, Marketing Manager for HostICan. In the interview, he discusses hosting, business and technologies, as well as current trends and the future of traditional hosting.
Would you tell us a few words about yourself and your professional background? How long have you been involved in the web hosting space?
Of course! My name is Meredith Livesay and I am the Marketing Manager for HostICan. Over the years I have worked with many different companies advertising and establishing marketing strategies to help organize marketing efforts for these companies. Also, I have performed a lot of customer and competitor research as well as following trends in market conditions, as anyone would to stay on top of the industry. All of these skills transferred very well into the web hosting world of which I have been in for several years.
HostICan has been in the business for over 6 years now. Can you please share with our readers how HostICan started and how it grew to what it is today.
As with many of our competitors, we started in a small bedroom, which we grew out of pretty quickly, then we moved to our first office (that was quite an experience), and then another, and finally last year, we moved into our custom built office, that we absolutely love!
Having said that, we’ve always tried exceptionally hard to ensure that with each move the transitions where both seamless to the customer and to our employees. With each move and progressing year we listened to our customers, offering products and services that are in high demand. Through all of this we have become a very experienced and reliable web hosting company.
HostICan has won plenty web hosting awards over the years. What sets you apart from the competition in this highly competitive market? What are HostICan main advantages, and why should customers choose your company instead of others?
There are so many things that set us apart; one of them is our unbeatable customer service. The next thing is that we have flexible packages that are completely configured and ready to go out of the box. We pride ourselves at being very well connected, not only locally but also worldwide. Although it helps to know the competition, we have developed a system that allows us not only to hold a place in a niche market but also appeal to a wide audience of people.
Moving from a web host to another can be pretty painful. What can HostICan do for customers who wish to switch their web host to yours?
We realize that moving hosts is a hassle. Our support engineers deal with this situation on a daily basis. Many of our new customers going through this just want to have someone on the phone to answer any questions they may have. We never hesitate to do whatever is needed to make the move as smooth as possible and to work with the customers until they are comfortable and satisfied with the transition.
How many customers do you currently have?
This is something we try not to share too much! However, just for you guys, we have a little over 60,000 customers running different plans, from shared to dedicated. Obviously this number grows daily and it is hard to put a number on it as by the morning it will be different.
Please, share more about the company’s data centers, and about the technology behind HostICan hosting?
The facility we are currently at has redundant Cat generators which are capable of generating 1.5 Megawatts each, and boot up in parallel to ensure a smooth power transfer off the mainline grid if needed. We run multiple connections to ensure maximum uptime. Any provider that doesn’t have multiple connections really isn’t capable of offering a 99.9% uptime guarantee. We use multiple feeds from diverse providers. Some of the folks in our BGP mix are; Savvis, Level3, Global Crossing, Cogent and others. The hand offs range from 1Gbit/sec to fully fledged 10Gbig/sec connections.
When it comes to customer support, what kind of support should HostICan customers expect? How many staff do you have in the customer support department?
Our customer should expect just what we promise! We provide 24/7/365 support which is complimentary for all customers. We have around fifteen support engineers at this time.
What can we expect from HostICan in the coming months and where do you see HostICan and the web hosting industry in three years?
The latest feature that we have added to our VPS lineup has been the free Domain Reseller account that comes standard with every newly created VPS. This allows customers to resell domain names at a fraction of the regular retail pricing. We remain competitive on the shared hosting front but see ourselves focusing more on quality and not just how much we can drive the prices down. We see ourselves growing and expanding our market reach and offering such things as; OSX (Apple OS), and Windows.
How will growth in demand for virtualization and cloud computing solutions compare to traditional hosting offerings like dedicated servers and shared hosting? Is cloud computing threatening traditional hosting providers?
Cloud-based platforms are definitely picking up momentum worldwide. This will lower the costs of market entry and have superior ROI. Having said that, we believe that the dedicated market will still remain strong in spite of the new cloud-based computing technologies that are coming out on what almost seems like a daily basis.
We personally believe, that dedicated hosting will never disappear from the market, since cloud based computing is always going to be more expensive than running a traditional dedicated server with a single customer on it if you are looking at it from a ROI standpoint.
What technologies do you think have the biggest impact on the hosting industry today? Which technologies will be "hot" in 2010?
There is no doubt about what has happened in the industry in the shared market, we believe that we are seeing the last rays of a fading platform. Having said that, cloud computing is the next generation of shared hosting (obviously with a much bigger price tag), this will also bridge the gap into the virtual segment.
We believe that by the end of 2010 that the cloud will be the main system that is running both shared and virtual private segments in the industry (if not, it certainly shortly will be). So we believe that the biggest impact on the industry as a whole has been the release of cloud / gird computing combined with Software-as-a-service (SaaS) application model.
How will your company align its operations to new technology and business requirements?
We always try to stay updated with the latest technologies, which allow us to quickly move from platform to platform. At the moment, we’re working with Cisco on a $1 Million dollar network revamp, which will allow us to move simply into the cloud computing model (by only adding a few devices into the mix).
In terms of business requirements, we’re always happy to entertain any customers requirements, we always work on expanding our portfolio of services and offerings, as well as partnerships and future commitments.
Finally, what advice would you give to people shopping for hosting services for their site(s)? What is the most important element in a good web host?
Reliability and support are two main elements to look for when choosing a host. You want to look for a host that has experience in the industry, not some new fly-by-night operation that comes and offers hosting for $3.45/mo. While we certainly agree that price is important factor in choosing a hosting company, you must remember that it’s secondary to reliability of the company. There is no point in having cheap web hosting that you can only access during certain times.