Web Hosting Interview - Kingston Communications May 2009

May 2009
Web Hosting Interview - Kingston Communications May 2009

Daemonn Brody, Head of Hosting Propositions and Products, Kingston Communications

As part of the KCOM Group PLC, Kingston Communications (KC) has over 100 years of rich heritage behind it. Listed on the London Stock Exchange since 1999, the company has a national data network providing connectivity products to businesses throughout the UK, and is also a leading broadband provider through its Eclipse Internet and Karoo brands. They are also a leading hosting company offering web hosting, server hosting and management to the business community. We catch up with Daemonn Brody, the company's Head of Hosting Propositions and Products. We ask Daemonn about the company's products and services, and what it's like working for a company that has a century's worth of history.

  • HOSTSEARCH: Daemonn, thanks for seeing us like this. Why don't we start off with you letting our visitors know a bit about yourself and your role at Kingston Communications?
    DAEMONN BRODY: In its purest form, I'm Kingston Communications man in hosting. My role as Head of Hosting Propositions and Products means I am responsible for a primarily business to business portfolio; covering Managed and Dedicated Server Hosting, virtual server environments, managed SAN and storage, complex server solutions, disaster recovery solutions, data backup and replication and our enterprise grade IP telephony PBX platforms. I manage a focused team of product and proposition managers and market analysts. I make sure everything we offer delivers the performance and the promise of exceptional service our customers expect. Of course, it's also our teams responsibility to ensure products are profitable and up-to-date too.
  • HOSTSEARCH: That sounds like a lot of responsibility. How does your typical day shape up?
    DAEMONN BRODY: In a blur, usually! I might start the day focusing on the R&D side of my role, ensuring that KC's taking advantage of all the very latest technical developments. I'm the one responsible for keeping us - and our customers - up-to-date. Which ties in nicely with the consultative side of my role: I'm not a hands-off department head, and actually spend a lot of time helping customers get the solutions they need.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Tell us more about the KCOM Group?
    DAEMONN BRODY: The KCOM Group PLC provides a range of IT and communications services to businesses and selected consumer markets, within the UK. The enterprise market is serviced by our sister company Affiniti, whilst the Kingston Communications business markets services to mid-market businesses. Our Eclipse Internet brand targets the SME and selected consumer markets.  
  • HOSTSEARCH: And I understand that your involvement in the company started when Mistral Internet, the company you were working for, were acquired by Kingston Communications?
    DAEMONN BRODY: Yes, prior to the acquisition into Kingston Communication in February 2007, I was Technical Director at Mistral Internet. Mistral was a £20m turnover managed hosting business based out of London and Brighton. We grown Mistral from a fledgling hosting provider with revenues of £4million just a few years before that. That wasn't the beginning of my background in hosting and online services. In fact, I've been involved way back before the internet as we know it really took off, working first with BT Prestel, before moving on to Direct Connection, Netscalibur, Claranet, then Nildram, all Internet Service Providers.
  • HOSTSEARCH: Now, I am used to doing interviews with companies that have been in existence, 5, 10 - a maximum of say twenty years. When someone says a company that offers hosting has over 100 years of rich heritage behind it, I take note! What's the history behind Kingston Communications?
    DAEMONN BRODY: Well our heritage is fascinating. In 1902 the Kingston upon Hull City Council was granted a telephone license for the city of Hull and two years later we opened our first telephone exchange. By 1914, local authorities could sell their telephone businesses to the General Post Office (GPO). All other councils sold their telephone networks except for Hull. The GPO network then became British Telecom, the UK's national telephone business, whilst the Hull networks major shareholder was Hull City Council. In 1999 KCOM floated the company on the London Stock Exchange. Since then we have expanded the services we offer and acquired many smaller businesses on our route to growing a profitable UK national IT and communications business.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And the name Kingston Communications obviously comes from Hull, which is more formerly known as Kingston-upon-Hull. It's a great part of the world. What are the biggest advantages of operating out of a smaller city than a huge metropolis?
    DAEMONN BRODY: Prior to floatation, the company did operate locally, but had also built a national network. Since floatation KC has invested further in its national network and acquired a number of other businesses like Mistral Internet and Eclipse Internet. We now offer a comprehensive range of telecommunications and managed hosting services across major metropolitan areas in the UK. So I'm now working for a company with offices in Wakefield, Brighton, Hull, Exeter and London - so I get to see some great places!
  • HOSTSEARCH: Your company offers a broad range of products and services. Which would you say are your flagship offerings, or don't you have any as such.
    DAEMONN BRODY: I really believe our hosting portfolio is a flagship offering. We are one of the largest virtual server providers in the UK. We have been working with VMWare developing products for a number of years and the benefits of a flexible, scalable platform really help businesses maintain reliable, secure services.  Our national MPLS enabled UK network and a smart telephony platform also help UK businesses to drive down their costs in these areas and more importantly, increase their efficiency.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And as far as your web hosting is concerned, is it a predominantly international or domestic clientele you cater to?
    DAEMONN BRODY: We are focused on offering hosting to UK businesses, we do not operate internationally. This focus on the domestic market means we really understand our business customers needs, the local emerging market trends and issues, which lets us get out on the road and understand our customers needs.
  • HOSTSEARCH: So you have a very solid range of services including managed and dedicated server hosting, virtual server environments, managed SAN and storage. How are you arranged internally? Do you have a number divisions looking after these various areas?
    DAEMONN BRODY: As with any large company we have several divisions and units: but we also have a One Team ethos! We have specialist engineers and architects in our SAN, virtual server, backup, security and network areas who really know their stuff. In fact when it comes to designing customer solutions, however small or large they are, we bring that expertise to the customer.
  • HOSTSEARCH: And you also offer MS SharePoint and Exchange as dedicated and shared offerings. What's your take on this market and what plans have you for further offerings?
    DAEMONN BRODY: Hosted Applications is a growing market and offers the scale of an enterprise mail and collaboration platform to all sizes of businesses. And we believe this internally; we are a Microsoft Gold Partner and we also have one of the largest internal deployments of Office Communication Server (OCS). This has really transformed the way we do business internally; great for keeping in touch, reduces our travel costs across the business, allows us to share and collaborate on documents from all sorts of locations or on the move. We want to offer this and a range of other new applications to our customers over the next few years as the possibilities for businesses are immense.
  • HOSTSEARCH: What would you say has been Kingston Communications biggest achievement to date?
    DAEMONN BRODY: I think the fact that every service is developed with KC's mission at heart: To provide services so good that our customers would recommend us. This really helps us to focus on customer needs. Purely in terms of hosting, I would say that our working relationship with VMWare is our strength and we now have one of the largest virtualization farms in the UK, providing hosting for some of the most respected bluechip UK businesses.
  • HOSTSEARCH: You operate to all parts of the UK and have a partner channel that delivers service through a number of integrators across the UK. Any thoughts of expansion abroad?
    DAEMONN BRODY: We have no plans for this right now, but never say never! At the moment though we are really focused on developing the UK market for the products and services we offer.  
  • HOSTSEARCH: And as far as Kingston Communications is concerned, is there anything in the pipeline we should know about? New products or services? New initiatives?
    DAEMONN BRODY: Right now there is a lot of buzz around scalable, flexible, computing architectures and this is something we have been providing for some time, so whilst this cloud computing environment develops, we really see our focus on developing smarter customer propositions in this area. We are also growing our hosted IP telephony platforms, which when combined with our collaboration products offer a really smart set of business tools for all sizes of business.  
  • HOSTSEARCH: And what about the longer term future? Where do you see Kingston Communications in say the next 5 or 6 years?
    DAEMONN BRODY: There is a really committed team here at KC and I would like us to be able to focus and adapt to the new technologies and challenges that arise, whilst maintaining high standards for service. With our rich heritage, expertise and breadth of services, we are well placed to serve the UK market for hosting and communications services well into the future.
  • HOSTSEARCH: It sounds like you're seriously passionate about hosting services?
    DAEMONN BRODY: Well, it's been said that I'm KC's hosting evangelist! Over the course of the last 20 years I've seen the potential of new IP and hosting technologies as they changed the way we live and work; and I want our customers to really benefit from that.

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