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HostingCon 2011 Takeaway: Most things change, some dont.

HostingCon 2011 Takeaway
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Spending 5 days there makes me want to go on record: Everything they say is true, San Diego is beautiful.

In 8 short hours, I started learning to surf, ate some awesome Taco Surf tacos, stared into the Maserati dealership in La Jolla, strolled through Balboa park, and walked to the end of an Ocean Beach pier with Hodad's in our stomach.

Of course, the other 4 days were spent within a few short blocks of the San Diego convention center with old friends and new, and we couldn't have had a better week.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, I had the pleasure of giving a short talk at the OnApp booth about our cloud billing integration. While preparing, it became clear that the heart of our integration went beyond OnApp itself; it was present before OnApp was even a glint in Ditlev's eye, and will continue beyond this latest iteration of hosting services.

Walking around HostingCon and talking to the vendors & attendees only further solidified this for me. For the last 11 years, two things have remained true in our industry, and words that we live by.



Most things change,

You and your customers will always be evolving with technology.

You've gotten better at the way you run your business. Let's say you've put better internal monitoring in place, have a really great MailChimp mailing list going, and use Splunk to parse your logs.

The customer has grown too. They've bought websites, managed servers, exchange servers, subterranean cables, cloud infrastructure and consulting services, and they will be buying the next thing. Any way you slice it, they're changing too.

They'll want to buy it from you, but if you cant offer it to them, they'll go elsewhere. They'll buy it from you competitors. They'll buy it from the startup that doesnt have the established reputation.

Quick, you dont have a cloud offering. You go through the buy vs. build discussion, decide to roll out OnApp/Cloudstack/etc, and your sales team sells a gajillion units in the first 6 hours. Next stop, world domination!



some dont.

It goes without saying, but those gajillion new services need to be accounted for. Your customers need invoices, your internal departments need chargeback, and those pieces of paper dont look much different than they did before the internet was invented.

As quickly as things change technologically though, your business backend is typically the slowest member in the relay race. They're dealing with finance departments, GAAP and auditors, caring less about object storage and more about the period the revenue was earned.

For a long time, a lot of companies got away with monthly manual processes to bill for usage. Everyone dreaded the 1st or the 2nd of the month when the reports had to be run, but as soon as it was run, there were 30 glorious day until the next. Cloud, utility, elastic, liquid, flexible, and cosmic computing finally changed that. No longer tenable, you have to get some sort of consistent reporting & invoicing to handle this stuff on a daily basis.

This is exactly where I think the Uber value shines brightest. Any of our clients can offer a cloud product tomorrow, the business backend will work seamlessly, and your customers will just see a new invoice line item.



Why we do what we do.

This is where I got nostalgic and excited at the same time.

We've had the pleasure of being more than a vendor to a lot of our customers. We've watched them grow from small resellers into worldwide organizations, and their needs changed. In a lot of cases, Ubersmith grew up with these companies, evolving together, schoolyard to boardroom.

Any good business in this industry is going to be rapidly changing over the next few years, and you need to offer what they want to buy. Any way you slice it, they're going to buy it from someone. Our job is to move with the industry, reducing your the time to market and making sure it can be you.



Thanks to Jason Pratt for the fantastic photo.

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