ISPCON Fall 2007 Features Hosting Luminaries - Part I

October 25, 2007 by Derek Vaughan

The first hosting-related presentation was delivered in a "tag-team" fashion by Mr. Tobby Davasia, Executive Team with Bobcares.com and Mr. Douglas Johnson, Director of Hosting Marketing at SWsoft. The talk was entitled, "10 Ways to Improve Business and Datacenter Efficiency". Here are the 10 ways (very abbreviated to save space):

1. Use I.T. - such as software to collect stats, create a quarterly I.T. budget
2. Automate ordering and ecommerce - benchmark response times
3. Automate provisioning
4. Virtualize your infrastructure - saves on power, hardware and management time
5. Self service control panels - allow customers to upgrade and offer a knowledge base
6. Standardize applications
7. Build upgrade processes - this increases ARPU
8. Automate billing - really create a business support system
9. Marketing vision - consider direct versus resale, also examine vertical markets
10. Hire the right support staff - or outsource

Rich Bader, President and CEO of EasyStreet Online Services and Ravi Agarwal, CEO of groupSPARK also delivered a joint presentation entitled, "Strategies for Growing Your Hosted Business". EasyStreet was founded in 1995 as an ISP, and has morphed itself into a world-class managed services company for the greater Portland, Oregon Metropolitan area. Mr. Bader mentioned a few interesting tidbits in his discussions - among them: EasyStreet outsourced its shared hosting operations to Hostopia. They also outsource email to Google! This is accomplished by private-labeling the gmail service. As far as marketing advice, Mr. Bader mentioned becoming a "trusted advisor" by getting in front of the local Chamber of Commerce and also by creating a blog. Mr. Agarwal went over the private label hosted exchange opportunities for web hosting growth. His statistics in support of hosted exchange were very impressive. For instance: There are 20,000 to 40,000 new hosted exchange seats created each month. The hosted exchange platform gives users anywhere access to full Outlook data. As a leader in private label Saas, groupSPARK experienced 300% growth in 2005 and 250% growth in 2006.

A web hosting highlight at ISPCON was the keynote presentation by Mr. Douglas J. Erwin, Chairman and CEO with The Planet. Mr. Erwin drew on his first 500 days as CEO of The Planet and described the hosting landscape as "a young person`s business" and "a hard business to be in". He also noted the shortages in data center space and web hosting talent. One of the more interesting ideas that came through in the talk - Mr. Erwin asked top customers, "What are the top 10 things we do that ticks you off?". Great idea! He also noticed that hosting teams appear to be broken up into two factions - the "geeks" and the "suits". He showed a slide that had Captain Kirk on one side and G.E.`s Jack Welch on the other side. Pretty funny. Mr. Erwin went on to reveal that The Planet currently runs 50,000 servers which represent 23,000 customers. The company has 6 (soon to be 7) data centers. The Planet will spend $30 million in CapEx this year. Also, the company is building out a new headquarters in Houston using the city`s old Convention Center. The pictures of it looked pretty impressive.

Another highlight of the sessions was delivered by Lou Honick, CEO of HostMySite.com on the topic of "Leveraging Great Service to Improve Customer Satisfaction and Your Bottom Line". Mr. Honick pointed out that when his firm conducts surveys to determine how customers found the HostMySite.com web hosting service, the top answer is invariably, "referred by someone else". This reinforces the notion that great customer service and customer referrals are key to any organically grown web hosting venture. Mr. Honick went on to discuss "product oriented" versus "customer oriented" companies. The point being that companies should focus on customers and customers needs - not the products themselves. The bottom line of Mr. Honick`s talk was the principal that "Happy customers equal referrals and repeat business". He further added, "Treat each customer interaction as an opportunity to add value and business success will follow". Not to mention his final thought on the topic, "This requires patience and big picture thinking". Judging by the active question and answer session at the conclusion of Mr. Honick`s presentation it was clear that he struck a nerve with the web hosting audience in attendance.

Look for more details and coverage of the exhibitors in the next segment.

This content was written by Derek Vaughan and is provided courtesy of The Hosting News.


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