Web Hosting Interview - Errett Cord July 2008

July 2008
Web Hosting Interview - Errett Cord July 2008

Errett Cord - Former hosting executive turned Internet strategist and consultant

This month we talk to Errett Cord - a former hosting executive turned Internet strategist and consultant. An expert on buying/selling hosting companies, Errett is a big proponent of Cloud Computing and grid hosting. He's also very well informed about green technology. We ask Errett about his career, the state of the web hosting in relation to the US and global economy, what it takes to sell a web hosting company, and what direction web hosts should take to "weather the storm".

  • HOSTSEARCH: Mr. Cord - thanks for talking to HostSearch today.
    ERRETT CORD: John, it is a pleasure to be here.
  • HOSTSEARCH: It's a bit difficult to know where to start - you've fit a lot into the last ten years! How about you give us a bit of an introduction?
    ERRETT CORD: My IT career began in 1996 as a web designer and HTML programmer. I developed a small design business from 1996 to 1998. At that point the dot com era was underway and I was hired to be the webmaster for a digital photography company (Silicon Film). We were unsuccessful launching the product and at that point I was hired to be the webmaster/ecommerce manager for a local medical manufacturer located here in Irvine, California. Roughly, half way through this commitment I started Cord Hosting as a side project, and after a year of working full time and managing Cord Hosting, I transitioned full time to Cord Hosting in 2002.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And it's safe to say you have had a pretty diverse career in web hosting and related areas so far.
    ERRETT CORD: Yes, I have been exposed to a variety of web related responsibilities and projects.
  • HOSTSEARCH: So, let's start at the beginning. Your web hosting career was grounded in the realities of setting up websites. Did that help you? Is it important to have that type of foundation and the insight it offers to be successful in web hosting?
    ERRETT CORD: Having the experience of building and deploying many websites gave me a firm understanding of how important it is to have a solid web host. This experience provided me the knowledge and skills to communicate and trouble shoot issues with clients much faster and efficiently.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What was your motivation for moving from a hosting "end-user" - as it were - to a "provider"?
    ERRETT CORD: The primary motivation to move into the "provider" position was the revenue model. The monthly recurring revenue was very enticing and I was able to charge a much higher monthly rate.
  • HOSTSEARCH: As it carries your name, are you still involved with Cord Hosting in any way?
    ERRETT CORD: At this point, I'm only addressing management issues. I'm completely out of the loop regarding billing, support and equipment maintenance.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You finished that at the end of last year and since then you have become a web strategist. Isn't this a difficult time for web hosting with the slowdown in the US and global economies? And what about threats such as cloud computing - is this the way forward, and if so will it leave web hosts behind?
    ERRETT CORD: Cloud computing is going to develop into a driving force. The backbone of this technology will continue to put pressure on the smaller hosting firms and clients will eventually demand this type of technology infrastructure.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And of course, one of the many strings to your bow is you are an expert on buying and selling hosting companies. Are more people are selling up right now, or is this a time when people are setting up with longer term objectives?
    ERRETT CORD: It appears that the amount of web hosting companies that are for sale is stable and has not increased during the first six months of the year. Additionally, the amount of buyers and sellers has remained consistent. What has changed is the demand for good hosting companies that are cash flowing with clean reputations. Several of my contacts have disclosed that the financially stable hosting services are receiving full offers within a very short amount of time.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Aside from the obvious, what are the key reasons for people wanting to sell a web hosting business?
    ERRETT CORD: There are generally three issues that finalize the decision to sell one's hosting business; burn out, time to move on to a new project, and market conditions are changing and it is time to take some money off of the table.
  • HOSTSEARCH: How difficult is it to sell a web hosting business and what issues should people look out for?
    ERRETT CORD: For anyone out there in the audience that is considering selling their hosting business they should consult with their attorney regarding proper sales contracts and non-disclosure agreements. They should also have all of their financial information prepared and cleaned-up for auditing purposes. Once those initial pieces of information are complete, I would contact the top three web hosting brokers and start a dialogue with them.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You have been described as a big proponent of Cloud Computing and grid hosting. What is it about these technologies that inspires your interest?
    ERRETT CORD: Because so many hosts are designed with a single point of failure and rebuilding servers can be costly the Cloud Computing concept is the way of the future. The beauty of it is that your data is replicated across multiple data centers and all of the services are distributed.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You have also been described as well informed about green technology. Is green web hosting just a trend, or can we expect this to have a permanent place on the landscape? Is it making a difference?
    ERRETT CORD: The push for green technologies at the data center level is becoming very important as the energy requirements of current and future data centers are developed. At the hosting level I see the green technologies becoming influential on server performance and their requirements for less moving parts and reduced energy needs.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You have been a web strategist for a relatively short amount of time, but what sort of things have you been involved in so far?
    ERRETT CORD: Recently, I completed a small data center research project for Microsoft locating in Egypt, Dubai, South Africa and Russia. I have also launched into building two intranets for local companies located in Southern California with a focus of harnessing some Web 2.0 technologies and streamlining the process of communicating with employees and customers.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Is the Internet over as a wild frontier where people can make it big suddenly with just an idea and some PHP skills? Or is it now a fully developed place where success is entirely dependent on planning and strategy?
    ERRETT CORD: I still see some opportunities out there on the Internet, but you need to have a strategy and a very clear plan to have any success.
  • HOSTSEARCH: On your website you suggest a Web Strategist is  responsible for the long-term planning and decision making of a website. I am sure everyone out there must be begging I ask the same question - What are the key elements that require "long-term planning and decision making" and does getting them right assure a website's success?
    ERRETT CORD: First, make sure the website is optimized correctly, inside and out. Establish what the goals of the company are and how the website will integrate into those goals. Evaluate the current condition of the business and what new technologies are available. The success of these strategies is dependent on the company's staff and their willingness to accept the integration of technology into their business plans.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And for web hosting in general - what's the long-term strategy for people involved in the industry? Where should they be going? What type of services should they be offering to secure the future?
    ERRETT CORD: The long term strategy for hosts should be to maintain energy efficient systems that keep costs down. They need to focus on reliable backup solutions that minimize downtime. Finally, streamlining the billing and control panel management systems are essential to optimizing day-to-day operations.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Mr. Cord - thanks very much indeed for your time. It's been a pleasure
    ERRETT CORD: My pleasure, thank you and take care. Please contact me at ecord.us.

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