24 April 2010

What is hosting?

It is a good question. I often wonder how and why I ended up in a career so similarly named to one I had been involved with in a previous life.

As an event organiser, I essentially hosted parties for businesses. It involved the ultimate in commitment and service, a degree of attention to detail you seldom see and passion to keep you striving when the going gets tough. First up, last to bed….. it is a thankless task behind the scenes of a busy event.

The business I had that specialised in this field I sold to Granada at the end of the 90’s. they did me a massive favour. I stayed and learnt so much about bigger business, “how to and how not to run my next venture.” It was great time of my life, but one I treated as a learning experience and I was glad to move on.

And somehow I ended up continuing to host again. This time, people’s lives and peoples entire businesses. I thought managing and hosting peoples parties required the ultimate attention to detail, however this new world really does take my responsibilities to another level.

So, what is hosting? And, why is it called dedicated hosting? It should be called dedicated hosting because my team and I are dedicated to ensuring you have the perfect platform to run and host your business. Actually, it is called “dedicated hosting” because the infrastructure that manages your website or application is dedicated soley to you and your business. This means no neighbouring business can impact on your service if they damage their machine or if they hit a busy period.

I do think my previos life has helped UKFast massively. I was talking to a senior official at Microsoft (who incidentally we host too) and he said the level of service we provide is so much over and above even our nearest competitor. He explained he felt this was to do with our attention to detail and sheer passion for customer service. “In a technical environment UKFast are just on another level. Where businesses in your sector are usually driven by process and techies, we find ourselves focussing on people and their needs.”

Thanks for that observation Bill. Most kind. Ironically, having the passionate people around has made us focus more on the technology side of things and 10 years later we find UKFast not only the market leader in the dedicated server area, we also deliver our product faster than any other provider on the planet. Our network is focussed too on speed. And there is no coincidence that we released information about the link between FAST websites which become more successful and gaining better rankings with Google.

I am confident, we are something to do with Google letting the cat out of the bag towards the speed link after we got a letter from Google asking us to remove the information with Speed and Googles rating of faster sites. After a few letters backwards and forwards I finally wrote to the lawyers at Google asking one simple question. “So what you are saying is that there is NO link between faster servers and higher search engine results.”

We were immediately engaged with the big G, who were intrigued with our confidence. What no one knew is we have been testing all the major networks around the world for a decade and we even have servers on our main competitors. Each one is used to test various sites and the results they produce. By 2006, UKFast had already deduced there was a significant link between speed and happy customers.

Aptly named UKFast! Interestingly it comes from the importance I put on customer service and the fact that I believed that the internet will be no different to every other walk of life. We want everything NOW!!!

It is very funny though. I have some awesome quotes from angry competitors about some of our claims. They really thought that the thing was a marketing ruse. Little did they know we have had servers with them for years and we still do. Knowing ones enemy is an important part of the game in my opinion. how else do we develop if we cant identify strengths and weaknesses efficiently and accurately.

When a business describes themselves as “fanatical” for example, I want to know to what extent? I am always intrigued to hear other business owners claims, just as they are to hear ours. I don’t blame them for misunderstanding them. You’d have to be a little over obsessive to go to the lengths we go to to drive our business harder and further than everyone else. Nevertheless that is what we do.

One day I’ll publish some of the ridiculous comments that the leader of some of the largest hosting providers have said. “there is no reason for speed to improve peoples results,” “It is irrelevant” , “what about all the money you are missing out on by contending your network…. they will never know….. we make millions from the excess bandwidth charges.”

For me, whatever you are hosting… customer service is key. Keeping your client happy is the ultimate game. Being honest with your clients is the only way. Yes it might take longer to build an empire, but it is then built on stronger foundations.

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