Web Hosting Interview - The Planet November 2008

Web Hosting Interview - The Planet November 2008

Rob Walters, The Planet's General Manager for Storage and Data Protection

The Planet's recent announcement that it was offering a new storage ''Cloud'' product is compelling evidence that Cloud computing is very much the next stage in web hosting's evolution. But what, however, is a company that is more traditionally focused on dedicated servers and managed services doing slipping into the Cloud? We asked The Planet's General Manager for Storage and Data Protection Rob Walters what exactly is going on.

  • HOSTSEARCH: Rob, nice to meet up with you. How are things at The Planet?
    ROB WALTERS: Things are great here and buzzing as always.  As you know, we've launched a wide array of products and services during the past year, which offer our customers the power to choose precisely what they need from their hosting provider.  Whether it's self managed servers, self-managed with services, managed hosting or colocation, we offer it all.  Storage and Data Protection is a strategic focus for the company, with three major product launches in the last six weeks alone DAS, Managed Backup and The Planet Storage Cloud.  Each line of business uses our Storage & Data Protection products for their particular customer set.  We will continue to grow our product portfolio, and you'll see many more offerings from my area in the next year.
  • HOSTSEARCH: There have been some curious rumblings lately basically revolving around the fact that The Planet would be offering a "Cloud" product. Can you give us more details about this?
    ROB WALTERS: The Planet Storage Cloud is unique on a number of fronts, since it merges two types of storage platforms in-data center, file-based storage and extensible, geographically distributed cloud storage.  Rather than going to another provider for storage, customers can get either variety from The Planet and they can manage both from their hosting account.

    Nirvanix has placed a Storage Delivery Network (SDN) node in one of our Dallas data centers, so we're able to build on their infrastructure to offer cloud and in-data center storage as a combined product. For existing customers, they can choose whether they want their storage located in our data center or select storage from another of the nodes on the global SDN.  Whatever they choose, the connectivity is optimal since the node connection is in our data center.  Ultimately, customers receive far better value since they pay for and manage only one account, while being able to choose from two storage options.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You recently underwent a major re-branding based around dedicated and managed hosting services. Where will this offering fit in?
    ROB WALTERS: In my realm of responsibility the Storage and Data Protection line of business products are designed to suit every customer of The Planet, whether it's Planet Alpha Dedicated Servers, Alpha Advanced Services for our dedicated hosting customers or for our Planet Northstar Managed Hosting customers.  The Planet Storage Cloud is available across our entire customer base.
  • HOSTSEARCH: In a nutshell, how can you differentiate your "Cloud" offering against others available on the market?
    ROB WALTERS: As I mentioned a bit earlier, one of the main differentiators of our product is that it is actually two storage products in one cloud storage and on-premise, NAS-type storage.

    We are using the global Nirvanix SDN infrastructure.  With points of presence across the U.S., Europe and Asia, our customers can choose where they store their data. It can be in our data center or in the cloud for geographic distribution or disaster-recovery reasons. The Planet offers SLAs up to 100 percent for customers who choose, for instance, a three-node policy.  Other cloud storage products on the market have SLAs only up to 99.9 percent, or none at all.

    Even better, our pricing structure is simple there are no added fees for file requests called œputs, œgets and œlists. These often cause the price of cloud storage to increase exponentially. The Planet doesn't have these hidden fees, and instead we offer simple tiered pricing for data stored in local and remote nodes. We also offer a flat 15 cent fee for bandwidth.
  • HOSTSEARCH: How will your customers who have perhaps already invested in a dedicated solution be able to benefit from you new service?
    ROB WALTERS: This solution complements our existing product portfolio.  Customers who require increased storage can choose this product instead of purchasing another dedicated server. The benefit here is that the pricing model of The Planet Storage Cloud is based on usage customers only pay for what they use. The solution is extremely scalable as well, so it removes the headache of capacity planning and the problem of unexpected spikes in usage.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Your recent press release suggested that your new offering was œœthe industry's only geographically distributed cloud storage platform. What exactly does that mean?
    ROB WALTERS: Customers can actually choose where their data resides, whether in The Planet's local Dallas node, on the East and West coasts of the U.S., or in Europe or Asia. We can offer this choice because we're a part of the Nirvanix global Storage Delivery Network (SDN).  

    Customers benefit since their data resides where it's most convenient closer to their customers for faster retrieval or opting for a multi-node policy with data in different locations for disaster recovery purposes.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And your press release suggested that this is also a worthwhile solution given the economic situation. Why exactly?
    ROB WALTERS: With today's economic climate, there's an increased focus on lowering costs across the board. The Planet Storage Cloud like most of our solutions is based on simple one-month terms.   It is also utility-based, so customers pay only for what they use. The solution is highly scalable and on-demand; it removes the headache and added expense of planning in advance for business growth and managing multiple accounts since it's billed from The Planet.
  • HOSTSEARCH: So, I know it might be early days, but what about the "Cloud" strategy for The Planet will it ever get to the stage where you won't be using the traditional hardware you are better known for providing?
    ROB WALTERS: There will always be a need for the hardware that makes up the infrastructure for cloud services. That said, one day there may not be a need to provide physical hardware, i.e. servers, to customers, but we will use hardware for the backend functions.

    In the near future you can expect to see some new offerings in the cloud space from The Planet. Stay tuned  plenty more is coming in 2009.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Right, well, I suggest you let us know how this initiative goes in the near future.
    ROB WALTERS: We absolutely will, John. It was a pleasure speaking with you.

More The Planet interviews:

Web Hosting Interview March 2009

Web Hosting Interview July 2008

Web Hosting Interview July 2007

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