The Hosting News sat down with John Killian, president of SimpleNet, Inc. – a San Diego based hosting provider to discuss the impact of the recent San Diego firestorm, their transition into managed hosting, and their vision for the future of the business.
In the hosting business since the mid-1990’s, the employees that currently make up SimpleNet’s work force were among those who created the first specialized Internet Presence Provider (IPP). Their relentless endeavors over the years have helped hosting businesses maintain explosive growth because of an ability to offer high quality, easy-to-use, reliable, yet inexpensive services. In their ongoing attempts to solve engineering problems and market technology, this group has adopted a philosophy of simplicity, which makes them perfect for SimpleNet. Amidst the complicated acronyms and technical jargon of the Internet, they?ve been able to communicate understandable services, products, and prices to the customer.
The Hosting News: We all heard on the national news about the devastating fires in San Diego recently ? what impact has that had on your business?
John Killian: We?re located in downtown San Diego, whereas the fires were on the periphery of the city limits, so the fires didn?t affect our operations at all. We maintained staff 24 hours a day ? as we always do. Our day-to-day operations weren’t affect at all.
Interestingly enough, some of our customers are media sites and their traffic went through the roof, but we were able to handle that just fine. One such customer had their traffic level increase fivefold. Because we keep excess capacity on hand, we were easily able to handle that.
The Hosting News: How large is your company?
John Killian: We have 10 employees and about 400 customers – mainly dedicated and collocation customers, but our new shared hosting products are growing quickly.
The Hosting News: What is your company’s core strategy
John Killian: Our core strategy is to provide a more reliable product than the rest of the industry. We know that word-of-mouth is the best sales tool. If we provide a better product with top quality support, then our customers will reward us by staying with us for life and telling all their friends, family and associates about SimpleNet.
The Hosting News: What are your core products and services?
John Killian: Shared web hosting and dedicated servers are our core products. We?re mainly competing in the mid-tier of the hosting spectrum; not free and not highly managed, but in the middle range where our products benefit the largest market of users. We?ve created a variety of packages to meet diverse needs within that range. Our $4.99/month Starter package is good for those that went to get their personal or hobby site up and running quickly, while our newest package, which includes the Miva Merchant commerce solution, for $34.95/month is a power-user type of solution.
The Hosting News: What differentiates your products from the other hosting offerings out there
John Killian: There are two aspects that differentiate us reliability and support. Operating our own data center and building multiple hosting platforms over the years have given us a ton of experience not only in how to operate a hosting company, but also in how to deal with issues quicker than most of the industry. There aren?t too many things that we haven’t seen, so were pretty solid in the category of reliability and response.
Our engineers were some of the first to create web hosting as an industry. We’ve built a fully redundant web hosting architecture – and all of our shared hosting products live on it, from our $4.99/month accounts on up to our ecommerce accounts.
When I say redundance I mean multiple web servers, multiple email servers in a fully load-balanced environment, disk storage with hot spare drives, multiple Internet providers, multiple fiber providers, multiple air conditioning units, UPS, and our own gas-powered generator. This is reliability and redundancy to the nth degree.
Secondarily, we also differentiate ourselves by providing top-of-the-line customer support. We?re available 24 hours per day, for all accounts we offer. Each customer support representative has had at least 4 years of experience in support of web hosting customers. We?re dedicated to solving customers problems, even if it means hand-holding through a process that’s not necessarily our responsibility. If we’re knowledgeable about the topic ? we?ll see if we can help our customers.
We’ve been on the Internet for a long time, and we understand the Internet ? but we also know that a lot of people out there aren?t that comfortable with it. They want to have a web page, but there?s a complex language that goes with it and small technology hurdles – and not everybody is comfortable with that. We understand that, and we want to help people.
The Hosting News: What do you consider to be SimpleNet’s strongest asset from the customer’s point of view?
John Killian: By far, it’s customer support and our ability to solve problems. It might sound odd, but we don?t really want to hear from the customers because that means they have a problem (chuckle). But when we do hear from them, we want to solve their problems.
The Hosting News: Who is your ideal customer?
John Killian: We have a very good fit with the small to medium-sized businesses that want a presence on the Internet, but may not have the technical staff to host their site within their organizations. This includes those who need a web site, email outsourcing or ecommerce.
The Hosting News: What trends do you see emerging in web hosting moving forward?
John Killian: End-users are going to put more emphasis on reliability. There?s just no excuse for sites going down anymore. So in the short term it is people hunting for and demanding greater reliability ? requiring redundant systems in their hosting providers.
Long term I think that the hosting environment will become more of an application-serving environment. The hosting provider will have to provide applications along with their hosting platforms. I believe that eventually everyone will have a web site which acts as a central repository for their information that they can retrieve anytime they wish.
Editor?s Note: To learn more about SimpleNet or to sign up visit:Â www.simplenet.com.