HOSTSEARCH: Mr. Gonzales - thanks for agreeing to speak to HostSearch. I think our visitors would be very interested in knowing a little about IceStorm Network and what you do for the company... and myself I'd be particularly interested in knowing how you came up with the name!
ADRIAN GONZALES: I am the President and Founder of The IceStorm Network. We specialize in complete web site and reseller solutions built around stable web hosting and innovative site-building tools. I am primarily involved in managing our sales, marketing, and planning of new products and services.
In regards to our name, I always had a fascination with the comic book hero "Iceman." He's featured in the latest X-Men movies. I remember as a kid, I would always watch the Spiderman cartoons, just to see Iceman! Even now, I still think Iceman as the most intriguing character in comics. So as homage to my favorite comic book hero, I simply chose a name that sounded similar, "IceStorm."
HOSTSEARCH: How long have you been in operation and what is the history behind the company?
ADRIAN GONZALES: Before founding IceStorm in June of 1997, I worked for Slip.Net, which back then was a small Internet Service Provider (ISP). It was a great experience for me working for an ISP that had tens of thousands of customers. Their dial-up service was great, however I always thought their web hosting service was extremely lacking and overpriced. This was one of the reasons I eventually resigned and quickly started IceStorm. I knew there was a much better way to provide web hosting services.
HOSTSEARCH: Yours is another company that offers a wide range of services - web hosting including managed and dedicated servers and VPS, domain registration, web templates, data migration - and of course earlier this month you added reseller plans. How do you manage a broad product range like this? Tell us a little about the structure of IceStorm.
ADRIAN GONZALES: We mean it when we say, "Our primary goal is to help you establish a strong and long-lasting presence on the Internet." Without offering a broad product line of web site services, customers could see their web site stagnate, or they could easily outgrow us. In either case, we would not be able to fulfill our primary goal. I feel if we focus on the needs of our customers, we will always be able to successfully manage our broad product line. Our customers are looking to have a successful web site or a successful reseller hosting business. This cannot be accomplished with only one type of shared hosting package with cookie-cutter features.
HOSTSEARCH: Do you think there are always going to be resellers in web hosting or will this approach change in the future? If it does, in what way?
ADRIAN GONZALES: I don't think resellers will ever go away. In fact, I believe resellers are what's driving the web hosting industry forward. Reseller accounts are in great demand simply because it's affordable, easy to setup, and profitable even if you only have a handful of customers as your client base. Countless of businesses in the world still do not have a web site. Because of this, the hosting market is wide open and resellers will continue to exist as long as there is a need for a web site.
HOSTSEARCH: I note from your website that your plans offer key features such as site builders, templates, and ecommerce capable options, but don't cram in options like some other hosts do - feature after feature after feature... Is there a particular reason for this?
ADRIAN GONZALES: Everybody wants a lot of features and options in their hosting plans, but there is a point where it can get confusing and useless. Basically put, users want a successful web site. They don't need a hundred different options that in the end, they won't even use. Key features like our site builders, unique web templates, and e-commerce shopping carts will help any user become successful.
HOSTSEARCH: Earlier this month you partnered with United Commercial Bank to bring personalized business bank accounts to ecommerce clients. Can you tell us a bit more about this partnership and how it has benefited your customers?
ADRIAN GONZALES: Our e-commerce clients are looking for specific ways to maximize their business through lower merchant related fees, integrated online pay, and other customized banking solutions. The big difference in United Commercial Bank (UCB) comes in the personalized service that our clients receive. A United Commercial Bank officer will speak to our clients on a personal level to help understand more about how they run their business, what types of transactions they do, and the best method for these types of transactions. When we switched to UCB ourselves, they gave us a customized solution where we will save over $1800 a year in merchant fees and receive a better rate from our business money market account. It's really all about helping our clients become successful with their e-commerce endeavor and a better banking relationship will accomplish this.
HOSTSEARCH: There are plenty of web hosts out there... What would you say is the single most unique aspect of The IceStorm Network and how does it give you the edge?
ADRIAN GONZALES: I believe our most unique aspect is our longevity. Not many web host providers can claim they have been in business for 9 years. I can assure you that hosts that have operated for this amount of time have a solid business plan, debt free, and have stable servers. Many web hosts come and go either because they don't have a solid plan, or are just looking to sell their client base to the highest bidder. I can definitely say, we're in this for the long-haul and we've already proven it.
HOSTSEARCH: If there was one thing you would change about web hosting for the better, what would it be and why?
ADRIAN GONZALES: The focus in the web hosting still seems to be over disk space and traffic. Web hosts emphasize their disk space and traffic allotment in their plans, and users still look for them as a gauge of how good a web hosting plan is. In actuality, the amount of disk space and traffic usually does not show how good a web hosting plan is, nor does it dictate the success of your web site. Changing this perception is key for the betterment of the web hosting industry. It reduces pressure for web hosts to give more and more space and traffic, plus educates users on what's really important in having a successful web site.
HOSTSEARCH: On your website a customer says ""Five years is a long time in the tech industry" - tell me about where you expect The IceStorm Network to be in the next fives years.
ADRIAN GONZALES: I do expect our business to continue being on the forefront of easy-to-use site building technologies. It's exciting to see how our site-building tools have progressed over the years and how our customers and resellers are fully utilizing them. In 5 years, I expect to see these site-building tools more mature, even more user-friendly, and the majority of our customers using them.
HOSTSEARCH: So, our de facto question - what is going to be the next big thing to hit the internet and how will it impact people's lives?
ADRIAN GONZALES: The Internet is a rapidly changing and fluid medium. It's extremely difficult to predict what will be the next "big thing." However, I have noticed a trend and it revolves around how a person can better effectively communicate over the Internet. We have so many different ways to communicate over the Internet right now (email, IM, blogs, discussion boards, VOIP, online videos). The next "big thing" will be a new form of Internet communication that may not even be thought out yet.
HOSTSEARCH: There's no doubt hosting is a tough, competitive business where every minute counts - how do you get over the stresses and strains of such a fast-paced industry?
ADRIAN GONZALES: I play a lot of tennis! There's nothing more stress relieving than smacking a tennis ball for a winner!