HOSTSEARCH: Can you please briefly introduce EasySpeedy and tell us about how you got started in the web hosting industry?
TINA LERCHE: My name is Tina Lerche, and I am the CEO and co-founder of EasySpeedy, offering dedicated server hosting including remote server tools.
Back in 1995 I was with a company developing software applications and in need of a web site. At that time Denmark had one hosting provider with scary high prices and no features. So we turned to the US to see what was offered. 2 days later we were in the hosting business, and RapidSite Inc., (now Verio) made us their Premier Partner of Denmark. Later on, iServer and DN (Digital Nation) was acquired by Verio, and we were reselling shared hosting, Virtual Private Servers and dedicated servers to mainly Danish customers.
In 2001 we sold our customer base of approx. 4.000 customers to an associated company, as we were dead-tired of wasting most of our time on level 1 support issues. You could say that the EasySpeedy concept was born out of this frustration. We wanted to stay in the dedicated hosting business, but we also wanted to make the burden of support go away.
Having our own software development and integration team it took us 3 years to build the EasySpeedy concept you see today. This includes a range of software based tools, enabling customers to be in control and support themselves remotely directly from their keyboard, also on hardware related issues.
HOSTSEARCH: Why do you offer so many Linux/BSD versions (7 distros in 13 versions)?
TINA LERCHE: Simply because there is a market for this and our customer's keep asking for even more distros. We are aiming at offering 25 distros by end 2005. Why should more rare and less popular Linux/BSD distros be kept out in the dark. If I am almost alone in a market for say 1,000 potential customers wanting a narrow Linux distro, I will surely be there. Think about it this way; with currently more than 200 different Linux distros the market is not even slightly covered yet.
In order to match the market's needs we have developed an auto installation system emulating a hand-made installation CD of an operating system (we don't do images). Once an operating system has been implemented we will never have to touch it again and it will install on any hardware.
HOSTSEARCH: With so much emphasis on Linux/BSD is there any room for Windows customers at EasySpeedy?
TINA LERCHE: I refuse to take part in these endless Linux versus Windows discussions. We are here for business purposes, and the only reason why we do not offer Windows is that we know from experience that our target customers prefer Linux and BSD.
In a recent article you wrote about how to make web hosting sexy. Can you please explain this one more time for those who may not have seen the article
TINA LERCHE: Well, hosting is not very sexy these days. Here is the short version. The industry is fast asleep, and competition is just a matter of end user prices and size of advertising budgets. Providers offer identical services and are as undifferentiated as the companies selling toilet paper. No wonder why customers are changing providers all the time.
Customers are more educated than ever, and they want cool and sexy services. So what are sexy services? Simple. It is control, and lots of it! Control puts any man on top of the situation. And here we have a whole industry ignoring this fact, offering ordinary control panels but no tools to solve server system related problems on the fly.
HOSTSEARCH: With customers in countries from Europe, America, the Middle East, Australia, all the way to Asia how do you give everyone good customer service through so many time-zones?
TINA LERCHE: I like this question! The answer is that we are not forced to provide the old fashioned email, ticket or telephone support attached to time-zones and language barriers. We break support into two categories where:
1 Our customers perform most support related issues themselves 24/7 as we provide them with system and server related tools in a self-service environment.
2 Support which cannot be performed by the customer himself, eg. the replacement of faulty hardware is taken care of by our IT staff.
Our job is to enable more self-service on issues normally covered by traditional support. A good example is the ability for our customers to themselves flash their main boards with new Bios revisions, as they are released by us.
We are talking tools for genuine on-metal boxes, not Virtual Private Servers, or shared hosting.
HOSTSEARCH: What kind of automation software/tools do you offer your customers?
TINA LERCHE: We are offering any remote tools that will make life easier for the customer and for us. You see, we have mutual interests. If we do not need to perform support tasks, we save money. Our customers save time and money by being independent of us and by taking advantage of our technologies.
Our basic package has soft reboot, hardware reset, power on/off, unlock of firewall and reset, reinstall/change of operating system, system recovery and other vital tools included. The Enhanced package covers Bios upgrade, disk reformat, various ways of back-up, recovery and backup even if the operating system is dead, server monitoring, and much more.
HOSTSEARCH: Can you please describe your data center?
TINA LERCHE: Over the years I have seen quite a few data centers in the US, and I was very impressed. I could not see my company making any compromises as to the US data center features. This is why we chose the pan-European housing company InterXion, delivering the physical frame, security, power and connectivity, and within this framework we built our own redundant network infrastructure from bottom up. It proved to be a good choice, as we have never experienced any downtime apart from a single minute or two during scheduled maintenance.
HOSTSEARCH: How does EasySpeedy differentiate itself from other hosting providers?
TINA LERCHE: The overall highlight is our ability to automate any possible support tasks into event based server tools, which can be operated remotely by our customers. This enables us to offer "dedicated hosting with co-location benefits".
Our list of available server tools is constantly expanding, and thanks to our customers' feed back enables us to keep on the right track.
Also, our instant activation and installation system gives the customer access to his dedicated server instantly, and the ability to choose between all our Linux/BSD distros installations available. From the instant payment processing and fraud detection has been completed, our new customer can take his new dedicated server into use in less than 30 minutes. This is what we call "computing on demand".
Addressing the narrow markets of minor Linux/BSD distros in the future also differentiates us from competition. With our auto installation system, we can add more distros to our distro library with ease.
HOSTSEARCH: Where do you see the dedicated hosting industry going in the next 5-10 years?
TINA LERCHE: Predicting the future is always risky business, but I think we will see competition change dramatically. This is both the good news and the bad news.
As customers become more educated, and the young ones grow up, I cannot see customers continue putting up with old-fashioned support models. Future customers will be asking for independence of their provider, demanding a maximum level of control. This is purely due to human nature. Providers who overlook this fact will face a hard time.
On the other hand I see small innovative startups taking advantage of today's technologies and consequently offering hosting solutions that by far will beat today's major players.
I also see a trend nobody is talking about, driven by major players. This trend is about reintroducing Virtual Private Servers as if they were genuine dedicated servers. I believe that the reason why they are taking this step is because it is much easier to offer customer's control on a Virtual Private Server than on a dedicated server.
As for the product and service range, I also see, that computing on demand will be a hot issue, including affordable cluster solutions the "Google" way.