HOSTSEARCH: Tahir - difficult time of year to squeeze in an interview so your time is much appreciated... I am sure our visitors would like to know more about you... Perhaps you could give us an overview of your history in web hosting and your role at NetspaceOnline...
TAHIR AHMED: Sure John, I would be glad to provide your visitors with some background details on the wonderful NetspaceOnline.net
HOSTSEARCH: How was NetspaceOnline established and what was the original aim of the organization?
TAHIR AHMED: NetspaceOnline.net was originally established to provide online file storage, providing users with the ability to access their data from any location in the world. Unlike traditional file storage services, ours had a twist; users of the service could also use their allocated storage space to host a simple website.
Eventually our users began to contact us for more advanced hosting features which unfortunately we could not provide as the service was designed primarily for file storage. After noting the needs of our users we decided to change our services and start providing website hosting.
HOSTSEARCH: What have been your biggest achievements as a company? Have you won any awards?
TAHIR AHMED: I feel our biggest achievement has been staying established for this long; most start-up hosting companies tend to fail before they even manage to get started. The second achievement must be receiving the continuous positive feedback on our hosting service from our clients. It's great to receive such feedback as it allows us to clearly see what we are doing and focus on customer needs.
Many start-up hosting providers used to place fake awards on their sites to entice new clients to sign up with them. Therefore, I feel customers are now put off by awards. We have therefore avoided going down this route. Our focus has always been on customer satisfaction and quality of service, as long as we are able to provide this, our customers will remain happy and that to us is more valuable than any award we could receive.
HOSTSEARCH: You are based in the United Kingdom - in your experience, how does the web hosting business differ there than in, for example, the United States?
TAHIR AHMED: Well John, the hosting industry is very competitive in both the US and the UK, but the US has more hosting companies and hence customers have a wider choice of hosting providers to select from, this in turn means that hosting providers need to work harder to obtain clients. Having said this, the US based service providers have around 300 million people compared with the UK's 65 million to choose from.
HOSTSEARCH: Do you have any expansion plans? If so, where are you heading? Asia or Eastern Europe?
TAHIR AHMED: We are already able to offer services to customers across the world however our focus remains the US and UK. We have plenty of new services to offer and we will be launching some of these as soon as they are available.
HOSTSEARCH: According to your website part of your mission is to "provide outstanding, reliable and cutting edge website hosting and domain registration services combined with exceptional customer service." Given the competitive nature of the market, how do you accomplish this?
TAHIR AHMED: Technology is a very fast paced industry, you can't just jump on the next piece of latest technology that is released, instead, you require patience and testing, and once this is accomplished you have some certainty that the server you are placing your clients and their data on is reliable and secure.
We ensure we cater for all hosting clients, big and small, as we feel even smaller clients deserve top-notch and reliable hosting without the pit falls and add-on costs hidden in the small print of some of the larger players.
We ensure customer enquiries are answered promptly with a target response rate of 10 minutes,- and this does not mean just an auto-responder, we ensure a detailed response is provided so the client understands what is going on and how long they may need to wait to have an issue resolved.
We provide a variety of contact channels for our clients. These include our live web based help system, MSN, AOL, ICQ, and Yahoo; and in extreme circumstances IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Clients are able to leave feedback on the level of service received by any of our support representatives so we can look back and improve our service where required.
We also provide an extensive knowledge base which is continuously updated to assist our clients with solutions to problems they may face, we also provide a flash based tutorial system allowing clients to see step by step any procedures they may need to carry out on their control panel, creating e-mail accounts, mailing lists, adding domains etc.
HOSTSEARCH: Your company has been online since 2001. Based on the last 5 years where do you see web hosting in general and NetspaceOnline in particular heading?
TAHIR AHMED: In the last five years we have learnt a great deal, both about the industry, our customers and their hosting needs. We provide hosting services to almost any type of client. Whilst we will continue with this business model we can see a definite move towards small business users who welcome our friendly approach and the sympathetic way with which we deal with their needs.
In terms of the general hosting industry, I can see further consolidation since this is a volume business and smaller players like us will find it even more challenging. However, I can that even the larger players will need to start offering specialised hosting to cater for the needs of niche markets such as game hosting, blog hosting, podcast hosting, audio hosting etc.
HOSTSEARCH: This is our de facto question: What do you expect the next big thing to hit the Internet to be and how do you envisage it changing people's lives?
TAHIR AHMED: I believe the next big thing will be VOIP/WIFI and similar services, Skype's new beta version of its client application allows not only conference facilities but video support as well. Various news articles have outlined information about WIFI access being incorporated into lamp posts with solar power being used to power both the lamp post and the WIFI gear. Other companies are considering implanting flash chips with information on local sites and events within lampposts also equipped with WIFI. These will allow users to be able to benefit from access to local information on mobile devices while on the move and use the high speed broadband WIFI access to make free VOIP calls to friends and family.
HOSTSEARCH: What do you do in your free time? Is everything in your life based around a computer or do you enjoy other activities?
TAHIR AHMED: A considerable amount of time is spent developing and maintaining NetspaceOnline.net. We are constantly on the look out for new features, services, promotional offers and technology which we can implement to increase the level of service and satisfaction currently provided. So NetspaceOnline does take up a large amount of time, but it's so much fun I hardly notice it.
When not working with NetspaceOnline.net I enjoy trying out new things. My latest new thing is ice skating. Other interests include paint balling and board games. I also enjoy computer networking too; I always manage to learn something new. I am planning to checkout air soft gaming soon, when I eventually get some time!
HOSTSEARCH: Our visitors might not know that you do a sterling job as one of the moderators for the HostSearch forum. How to you find that task?
TAHIR AHMED: HostSearch forums are a fantastic place packed with loads of information useful for anyone looking for a host, or for providing hosting or similar services. When I first became a moderator for HostSearch.com there was a fair amount of cleaning up and some reorganising to do as threads where in the wrong places and some which just should not have been there as their intentions were pretty overt (spamming). However, the continued effort by the current moderators has helped make HostSearch.com what it is today.
Moderating Host Search forums is not a one man task, it requires a team, and I believe we have got that team just right. The end result speaks for itself, a forum packed with information and growing rapidly. If you haven't checked it out yet I would strongly urge you to do so, I am sure you won't regret it.