Web Hosting Interview - A Small Orange May 2011

Web Hosting Interview - A Small Orange May 2011

Douglas Hanna, CEO of A Small Orange

We talked with Douglas Hanna, CEO of A Small Orange - a high-end shared, reseller, VPS, and dedicated web hosting company based in Durham, North Carolina.

  • HOSTSEARCH: Thank you for giving us an opportunity to talk with you today. Can you please introduce yourself to our visitors?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: Sure, I’m Douglas Hanna, the CEO of a web hosting company called A Small Orange.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Could you please tell us a little about your day-to-day role with A Small Orange?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: So, as CEO, I’m responsible for making sure that our customers get exactly what they want - a wide range of reliable hosting services and exceptional customer service. On a day-to-day basis, that means conducting meetings with our support managers to make sure that customer requests are being addressed promptly and professionally. I also hold meetings with our technical staff in order to stay up date on our servers, security, and technology purchases. In addition to making strategic decisions for our company, I monitor our customer support queue and make sure that I make time to address customer questions directly. Though we host over 450,000 domains, nobody at A Small Orange is above the support queue; our customers come first.
  • HOSTSEARCH: When and why did you start A Small Orange?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: Actually, I didn’t start A Small Orange; I bought the company with my business partner about a year ago. Since that time, we’ve taken steps to improve every aspect of A Small Orange, from support, to reliability, to security, to technology. I acquired A Small Orange because it was, and still is, a terrific brand with a fantastic customer base.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What is your core web hosting product? Which one is the best selling product?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: Shared hosting is by far our most popular product. We offer a great shared hosting offering backed by great support at a very low price (starting at just $25 per year), which is hard to find these days. Our customers have clearly taken note of this and have made it our most popular product.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Is your web hosting "green"?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: We are a company committed to sustainability, and environmental responsibility is just one of the things that we do to ensure that A Small Orange is dedicated to changing the way business is conducted. A Small Orange purchases carbon offsets to help reduce the environmental impact we create, and we also try to buy sustainable and energy efficient technology whenever possible.  We’re not just in business to make a profit, we’re making a difference.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What hardware and network are you using?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: We use a variety of Dell and Supermicro hardware. A lot of our servers at SoftLayer and a lot of them are also at a space we co-locate at in Atlanta.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Your servers are running with CentOS and cPanel/WHM control panel. What are the advantages of this configuration?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: It works well for our customers and is simple and easy to support for us. Pretty much everything works with the LAMP setup we use and that’s very helpful to our customers.
  • HOSTSEARCH: As a CEO of A Small Orange, how do you predict the future of web hosting in the next 5 years?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: Well, everyone is starting to see the growth in cloud offerings, and I’m certain that trend will continue. If we zoom out a little, I also see technology taking a great leap forward with regard to storage space, speed, and physical size. Storage space has two interesting immerging technologies; SSDs and the prospect of depleted uranium HDDs. I also think there’s potential to see the same technology we find in our mobile devices making its way into the server space. It wouldn’t surprise me to find .5U servers on the market in five years.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Last question, let’s talk about customer support, can you please tell us more about how A Small Orange supports its customers?
    DOUGLAS HANNA: Sure, each of our customers, no matter how big or small, gets free access to rapid response email support. Not only does our tech team provide answers within as little as 5 or 10 minutes, but we make sure that we provide the right answer the first time. We’re also working on launching live chat support within the next month or two, which our customers have shown a lot of interest in. Resolving customer support issues is and will continue to be our top priority, and our commitment to customer satisfaction is evident on our customer forums. Have a look- there’s an active community of A Small Orange customers out there who love our service, and our brand. We’re very grateful for that and work hard to ensure we continue to provide service that gets people talking about how good it is.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Well, thank you very much for your time today. We look forward to see your success!
    DOUGLAS HANNA: It has been my pleasure; thanks.

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