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Nikhil Of Admin-Ahead: Think Big, Start Small

Posted by hosttycoon On November - 21 - 2014

Nikhil is an entrepreneur and owner of Admin Ahead, a company that does remote system, technical support and network administration. He also runs few other brands and companies that develop applications and provide various services to dot-com businesses. I met him during HostingCon 2010 in San Diego. We didn’t talk much about business, as we got together in a bar with Brett Dymond of Ezeelogin and had a very good time during one of the HostingCon’s social events. We have eventually finished around 2.30 am in a fast food restaurant. I haven’t seen Nikhil for a while and when we met at cPanel Conference 2014 in Houston, after the told me what he has been doing within the last 2 years, I have decide that it was a good idea to sit talk to him and do this interview.

I met you in San Diego, few years ago, during HostingCon 2010, I guess it was in 2010, but few of us finished early in the morning in a bar, so I need to refresh my memory :). So to start I’d need you to show some understanding… tell me in a flashback, can you point out one change in web hosting industry if you compare between then and now?

There are fewer startups per say, and the smaller ones are getting acquired fast. And soon, I personally believe there will be few giants who will have more control over the industry. The same had happened with Control Panels. Back in 2002, when I started, there was Albanza, Ensim, and other control panels, which are nowhere to be seen.

What would Admin-Ahead, your core company I guess, need to change in its expertise and the way it works to adapt to the new reality in the web hoisting industry?

So, it is going corporate, isn’t it?

Yes, you can say that.

How does such a trend change the game for companies like yours that develop human resources and need to work to get contracts with service providers? With fewer hosting provider and the corporate trend, would it become harder for you to grow your business?

Our clients are already corporations, which include Fortune 50 Companies, so we don’t think business is going to be affected for us. We have not spent much on marketing at any point, though recently, as you know; we had a booth at cPanel conference (Admin Ahead was presented at cPanel conference). Most of our business is by word of mouth, wherein a customer refers another. The growth pattern is slow, but its steady and stable and it also gives us room to deliver what is expected.

OK, but what would Admin-Ahead would need to change in its expertise and the way it works to adapt to the new reality in the web hoisting industry? Is it more about managing virtualize infrastructures, is it about adopting new software, is it about developing the human resource and training your staff in using different software?

Admin-Ahead always took initiatives to prepare our resources to any requirement that the market is currently demanding. To make sure we are abrupt and top in line with upcoming technologies, we have an R&D department which works on various up and coming technologies. These are then documented and further training is adapted with reference to these documentation.

Would you please specify any of these technologies you define as important within the next few year? Which of them would drive more business?

Virtualization is a very keen area where most of the giants are investing a lot, and I guess that will be heading more business.

Well, you mentioned virtualization. cPanel does not deal with it, but at the same time it has created its own strong business ecosystem. Please tell me do you define cPanel and Linux environments as a core or your business expertise? Do you think that “everything on the Cloud” trend would drive more business to cPanel and companies that have expertise in dealing with cPanel/Linux IT hosting environments?

We do not isolate ourselves to cPanel and Linux alone. We are working on all control panels including Plesk, DirectAdmin; and Windows based control panels and systems. cPanel helps manage things for the end user, so basically, anyone who has a virtual environment and does not want to work on a shell to get things done will consider the likes of cPanel or alternatives.

We handle HyperV, Virtuozzo, Xen, KVM and VMWare based systems at the moment, and hence as long as these technologies are on the roll, we will be an integral part of the system.

As long as we are on top of what is happening and is able to understand and deal with customer issues efficiently, we will always be in business.

You mentioned different technologies, software platforms and that you provide services using all those. What do you think web hosts and NOC management teams would need to change in order to adapt to the new industry trends?

I would always suggest the “Think big and start small” strategy…

Explain that to me, as it looks like a bit like a political slogan…

Web hosts should see clearly as to what they can deliver, and make sure their customers are satisfied. Business is not just selling, and it never had been about selling. Its always the relationships that go forward. So extreme care has to be taken while handling customers, since you need to know your customers can find a replacement for you at any time they choose.

Most of the time over selling causes issues and this is not something that is going to work for web hosts in future. To take care of your customers, your infrastructure should also consider improvising support and related offerings to your customers. Not just delivering the mere minimum, but go beyond; work with your customer to make things happen.

Can you please define “relationships that go forward” when it comes a client and contract. What do you do to implement that principal on daily basis?

I can cite examples. You might be an unmanaged server provider; but your customer has a simple issue wherein his web server is not starting up. Now, if your support, just put a link to your Terms of Service to your customer and tell him that they cannot look into it; you are just “not working with” the customer. If you want to build a relationship, then use this as an opportunity to make it clear to the customer that you are there for him.

At least have the courtesy to take a look and help him out as much as possible. That is when a relationship of trust happens with you and your customer.

If you want to build a relationship, then use this as an opportunity to make it clear to the customer that you are there for him. At least have the courtesy to take a look and help him out as much as possible.

That is when a relationship of trust happens with you and your customer. The support staff must be specifically trained (and I think that Admin Ahead support staff is) on empathy and to “work with” the customer than to just “work for” our client, and that makes us special.

What do web hosting providers and managed service providers change? Is it about the integration of more services into one CRM portal, is it about managing virtualized environment, is it about using more apps to manage services, instead of laptops and desktops?

At the end of the day, the idea is to deliver what your customers want and that everyone involved be happy. Your question is very difficult to answer, since it entirely depends on what you want to sell.

Is this the main challenge in the business of providing remote system and network administration services?

Our challenge is only to be on top of technology and to make clients happy. But we have to consider what you have to offer first and then adapt our services accordingly. This is not a challenge, but this is how we are supposed to work.

Do you try to talk to your clients to discuss new technologies and to persuade them to adopt any?

If they are at a point where decisions are pending based on technology, we always try to help them out with presenting the pros and cons of each available technology in the market. The choice however, is theirs, since investments are purely their portfolio.

How flexible a remote NOC should be in order to do a good job and to customize services in accordance with client’s requirements? Do you require clients to use your own system for communications (ticketing for example) or you adapt and make your team to work client side, using the customer’s CRMs and Account systems?

We do not require or demand any customization on the client side. We work with the client and hence use the customers proposed CRM / Systems. However, we log all responses for our monitoring and hence we have a parallel system that keeps record of whose done what. This is purely for monitoring and QA purposes and we also provide QA feedbacks to the techs on regular intervals and send reports as to what we have done to our clients.

As your company is based in India, at the same time you know the web hosting industry in North America and other regions very well. I’d like to see how do you see the web hosting market and the hosting industry in your country. Where does it stand? Are there many new emerging small web hoisters that offer Shared service? Do they want to use local infrastructure? Is the India hosting industry going corporate, as the one in North America?

Corporations are already here. They sell direct as well as make resellers and these resellers have Shared Hosting. Local infrastructure is not a welcome, since bandwidth here is costly when compared to North America or Europe and hence most of the servers are hosted outside India.

So, would you say that India is not the best place for a startup web hosting provider, as one would face a fierce competition?

No, I meant if you are aggressive in marketing then its a good place to start. One need to be aggressive, fierce in one’s marketing efforts. But do not think of huge profits.

If most of the Indian content is hosted outside the country, this probably makes it a bit slower for consumers and it is probably costly for ISPs and networks to buy external bandwidth? Does this make entrepreneurs to consider building more CDN point of pretense?

I am not sure if Indian customers are bothered much about latency at this point, and if anyone is, they will have the potential to buy the bandwidth and host inside India itself. There are some data centers coming up in India and they are picking up slowly. However, the rates are almost double when compared to hosting in North America or Germany.

Well, then how do you see the development of web hosting industry and consumer markets for web hosting services in Asian countries and in India in particular?

I am not the right person to answer this question, since we don’t sell any services in the Indian market as of yet, except for the software subscriptions that we sell, but those are charged at par with any other market. We are positioned in the global market, so it would be hard for me analyze any specific local markets.

Everything is going online. From paying government fees to shopping. It’s just got started. The coming years will be for the Internet boom. And almost all business will be online. So yes, Indian market is to grow exponential.

Shortly before this interview was about to start you have sent me 3 links to different business services, which would be a separate companies. How do you balance between those in order to run all of them?

BrookWin is the parent Company and the other Companies are subsidiaries, which makes it easy for me to handle them all. These are like different departments under the same roof.

Infinitecalls.com looks interesting and very promising to me. Are there any products/services like this one, that you compete to? Is this a developed market niche already?

Amazon had come up with video customer service with their Kindle HDX, and so did Microsoft for their Surface 3 website. But, I don’t think there exists a company that has this technology developed yet, specially considering direct browser to browser customer calls. It does not require any App and is device independent.

All one needs to have to use Infinitecalls is a webRTC browser and it is fast becoming a standard on all browsers. The product is in BETA and is being tested with a client to evaluate loads and performance. If you are the customer on my website using Infinitecalls, you will need a browser with webRTC and to answer your call, I will need the same. Chrome, Firefox, Opera already has it inbuilt. IE is expected to have it anytime now. Even with IE, Infinitecalls, automatically puts the customer on fall back and moves him to the chat queue; so you will not lose the customer.

How did you get into IT outsourcing, web hosting, tech support and management service industry? Do you have a technical background and similar education or you entered like entrepreneur?

I am an Engineer in Electronics, and like most of the Electronics engineers in India, ended up being an Embedded Systems developer. Being there, I got introduced to Linux and my interest grew more and more into it. I took up interest a job as a Linux administrator and I was also active on many technical forums. Soon, people started to come to me to resolve issues that had with servers and since the demand was more, I started to think in lines of an entrepreneur.

Was it an easy decision to get out of the comfort zone of one who get paid to work for a company like a professional and to found a company and bear responsibility to hire and manage a team as well as to sell services?

It was a tough decision to be very honest, but I was fortunate that I had a very understanding family and they always encouraged me to do what I love. I guess any venture comes at a risk, and I believed in living in the present and not to worry about the past or the future too much so that it will kill my present. One will always be challenged in life, so better to take up something that is worth my time and effort.

Most people who develop businesses do consider selling the business as an exit strategy based on their business success. Business is always about the revenue, I know that. What is your approach to your ventures? Do you develop, to create value and sell when a good offer comes or you develop to grow and keep running the business?

I have a team and we work in sync to achieve what we aim at. I am not sure of selling the business, but yes, like you rightly said, any business is about revenues and if it makes all of us happy, it is something we can consider. But, we also need to make sure we have something else on our plate to keep us challenged.

Aaron Philips: cPanel Has The Ability To Drive New Business

Posted by hosttycoon On September - 5 - 2012

I met Aaron Philips at HostingCon 2009. Since then I have seen him in action as Vice President of Operations of cPanel Inc. On my humble opinion he is a strong business leader, who is very focused on achieving goals and to succeeding in business. I have seen him helping to startups which have good products to integrate with cPanel/WHM and to get recognized in the web hosting industry. Aaron is definitely one, who any business person would like to deal with. Another thing that he has a charisma and is a very interesting personality.
You have significant experience in the web hosting industry. You were in management of FastServers, a quite successful managed hosting provider . Did this experience helped you to do good business when you take on at cPanel?

All experiences have led me to where I am today, but FastServers carries a special place in my heart. The people I worked with at FastServers made me who I am today. Travis, Ian & Terrance each taught unique elements that I carry with me. It’s funny you ask this as I was just reflecting on this personally and pondered what did each person really teach me.

Travis Shaffner taught me how to get emotionally vested in a product, service and company. He was highly passionate and often displayed a wide range of emotions. Some might call it unprofessional, but in looking back he taught me that this passion can be harnessed to bring out the best in companies and individuals.

Ian Andrusyk taught me the art of taking risks and never accepting second place. When the amount of time and energy of planning a product launch or new widget in your business is equal to the cost of “just doing it”, it’s better to just do it than spend mass quantities of time and energy going through the planning process. Don’t get me wrong, we planned out many things, but often times we just executed idea as the execution time/efforts/finances would be far less than a full out strategy. Ian also taught me a lesson that I carry with me today about having “events” at conferences. Anyone can open a bar and have a party, but it’s far better to create an experience for your valued customers. (B10WH: See how cPanel creates experience for its customers and attendees to cPanel conference:  http://vimeo.com/31957689 & https://vimeo.com/15819196)

Terrance Bush taught me a lot about leadership and gaining respect. We both learned from Travis that being passionate and emotionally charged drove the business. We would often times get in loud vocal arguments or debates about business, products, or the direction of some project. We would yell and scream at each other and when it was over we would go eat lunch or grab a beer and be joyous of our battle. I guess the emotion was really based on principle over personality.

Through my years at FastServers, I was able to get emotionally vested in the web hosting community and all three provided values that I honor today. All three helped me understand the greater purpose in what I do and the importance of empathy.

Do you keep in touch with these guys and what do Travis, Ian & Terrance do today?

Ian owns a bar called the Norse, Travis owns a coffee shop called The WormHole. I talk to them once in a while and we keep in touch. Terrance ended up being a close friend, I see him 3-4 times a year and talk on a regular basis.

I’m curious have you ever been involved to HTML, coding and building websites and applications as web developer? Did you have any experience in web development which helped to understand better the technical side of the cPanel’s hosting automation business?

If you can call it that. My coding, HTML, and building or products is done as a motivational tool. Once a developer, web developer, or someone with real skills sees my work, their knee jerk reaction is to jump in and fix the horrible design/code I have given birth to. Luckily I have worked with some top talent that won’t allow my bad coding/design to see the light of day and they almost always volunteer to take over whatever I am working on.

Most people I know in the web hosting industry, especially those who do software automation say good things about you. Why is this Did you really helped many to improve their product and to integrate with cPanel?

The best answer I can give is I want to see people succeed. I attempt to be a positive force in the web hosting industry and when possible extend a helping hand. I attempt to be brutally honest, to the point, and at the same time provide as much direction or resources as humanly possible.

Have you found yourself into a situation when you are on vacation, but within the 3rd or 4th days you say “OK that’s enough. I can not stay idle. Need to do some business”?

I work every day, even on vacation, but have a few rules I try to follow.

1.) No outbound emails for new ideas or projects that haven’t been started.
2.) Check email only at appropriate times.
3.) Reply to issues or emails that need immediate response.
4.) Remember that I need time to unwind and even though I love what I do, I also very much enjoy spending time with my family.

Is being workaholic a part of success? Is it a common thing for you to work late at nights and have you managed to balance between personal life, hobbies and work? Or there is not much of a balance as work always dominates? 

I like what I do a lot. I wouldn’t call myself a workaholic, rather supremely passionate about what I do. I love challenges and I like to make things happen. Working a lot is not required for success, but on nights and weekends I get to chase projects that I have excitement behind. Here’s the deal. I work because I love it. I don’t feel compelled to do some work on weekends or wake up at the butt crack of dawn because I am stressed, I do it because it’s part of me. I would rather have a conversation about hosting versus most other topics, but work as passionate as I am, I need to set time aside for my family as they are most important thing in my life. I need to be reminded to partake in life, but it’s extremely hard because my hobby is my work and work is my hobby.

What do you like to do most when it comes to work? Is it more to work on the technical side of the projects or it is related to marketing, or B2B development?

I like the people I work with! Hands down, they teach me and are far smarter than I am. I often claim I am maintain the lowest IQ at cPanel and getting to work with very smart people is enjoyable.

I love a good negotiation. I love working on a project that results in other peoples success. I love a great argument/debate that get’s passionate and heated. I love learning new things.

What is your favorite piece of work? What do you enjoy doing most, while working for cPanel Inc.?

My favorite piece has yet to be released, but I am very fond of cPanel Applications Catalog and the upcoming cPanel Partner Directory (based on http://partnernoc.cpanel.net). I believe we (cPanel) has the ability to drive new business and this new Partner NOC directory will be a step in the right direction. I am also very fond of our annual conference. As a company we put a lot of effort into this and the end results have been extremely satisfying.

Why cPanel does not use even a single phrase that contains the word “Cloud” in its business? You can always go and brand cPanel as “Control Panel for the Cloud”. You don’t do this. Why? I have seen big software producers to say they do “Cloud”, without even having such product or being into the Cloud computing.

We are still trying what they are talking about when they say “Cloud”. Ask me again in 2 years.

I remember chatting with you during HostingCon 2009 about Cloud computing, cPanel and some of the industry’s trendy topics at the time. You told me then that there would be any term, people use to describe something new. It could be a “Cloud” or “Distributed Computing” or anything else. Do you think that cPanel would ever use the word “Cloud” for any product or in its marketing campaigns?

Maybe, we are open to new ideas. Ask me again in 2 years.

I went to check the agenda of cPanel 2012 conference and my impression was that like the previous events, attendees should expect a lot of in-depth knowledge, a lot of fun and good parties during the evenings. Most sessions looks to be focused in educating and training cPanel users. What would one could not see in the agenda, that you expect to happen during the conference?

Here’s the thing. This was always a training conference from the very start. I have been to every conference since they started and in the beginning just a few exhibitors. A few more exhibitors expressed interest and then executives starting showing up. We then put together a conference that is highly technical but has a bunch of hosting executives wondering around. It was not our goal to make this a business networking event, but it organically grew into one.

We remained focused on the training part of it. This year you will see an extended exhibit hall, more application providers and more business network. Employees power the show with their content and getting out to meet our customers. It’s equally important for us to get to know our customers and we wish to have the conference in Houston, TX every other year.

Each year holds some new surprises and you will see me give my first ever keynote speech. In fact, I should be working on it right now, but answering these questions is a whole lot more interesting.

I am pretty sure I didn’t answer your question, but self promoted the conference in a round about way.

I saw that cPanel Inc. bought WHMCS. Does it mean you are looking to change cPanel from server management software to one stop hosting automation and management solution? Could we expect cPanel to launch or acquire any a billing and merchant gateway solution in the near future?

We did not actually buy them but entered into a special agreement with a partial acquisition. The overall goal is to provide a better integration between billing and hosting automation software. We have no intentions of acquiring other billing platforms at this time and haven’t even considered merchant gateways as an option.

Our overall intent is to engage with the WHMCS team during the first months and then in 2013 begin looking at how to improve the overall experience with our product.

Does cPanel plans its own developers go over the code of WHMCS and to revamp it or you are going to leave it to their current dev team?

The current development team will remain the primary developers. Matt Pugh, CEO of WHMCS has been developing this product. Our immediate goals are to free up Matt so he can focus on the future developer of WHMCS.

What a “Vice President of Operations of cPanel Inc.” has to deal with? Are you focused more on the marketing side of the business and on growing the client base of the company or you;re also involved in the management of various technical operations?

I handle everyone that is not related to product development. Marketing, Sales, Support, Customer Service, Human Resources, Business Development, Account Management, Training and probably a few more items that I am forgetting.

You have been in management of a dedicated hosting provider before. How this business changed through the years? Do you see the hosting industry coming to a state when the cPanel Inc. would more than 90% of the cPanel/WHM licenses would run on a virtual machines, not for physical servers?

When you hear to word “web hosting” we wish for it to be synonymous with cPanel. You know like Kleenex or Band-Aid, but in the hosting industry. When you search for something these days, you Google it. Hopefully when you need to host a website site, you cPanel it!

If you are about to launch a new web hosting provider in 2012 or 2013 what would have done? How would you start? Would you go buy a company that has good position on the market or you’d start from scratch and create a new brand? In which niche in the web hosting market would you position the company?

No comment, I have to much insight to answer this question.

What would you say to anyone who wants to enter into the hosting industry as provider, except that one should definitely go for cPanel based services?

Do your homework and understand two key analytics.

1.) What is the value of a customer? (Be specific and tie a real number to it)
2.) How much does it cost to get a new customer?


B10WH: You can read Aarons news and product releases at http://cpanel.net/author/aaron/.

Keith Duncan of Ping! Zine: I’m Always Looking To Do Better

Posted by hosttycoon On May - 17 - 2012

Keith Duncan is a publisher of the longest running print magazine in the hosting industry – Ping! Zine. I know him from one of the web hosting conferences I attended, I don’t remember which one actually. He looks serious, but at the same time is an easygoing guy, who takes time to talk to anyone, during those IT gatherings. He listens to you and my impression is that he’s always ready to help if he could. I’ve met other people involved in publishing in different media niches and industries and I can tell you that most of them speak to others with the sole purpose to sell. Keith looks quite different. If you need him to do something for you, he’d do it. I have always thought of talking to him and publishing an interview in B10WH. Here he is!

Hi Keith, in our previous conversations I’ve never asked you how did you enter the publishing business. It is a good time to tell me how did you start?

I have been in the publishing and print industry since the 1980’s, long before the Internet. We had a company that produced gaming modules and marketing for clients.

Did you do any printed media or magazines at the time?

We designed a mini-magazine for a client and produced our own newsletters. Mainly we were involved in other marketing areas dealing with print.

When you look back, can you say how did print industry changed within the last 20 years. Was the change driven by the Internet? Was a generational change or it affected readers of all ages?

The print industry was affected and changed by each in different ways. One leading to another, creating a domino effect. The economy affected the print industry with constantly rising prices on paper. The advent of email raised prices on mailing. With many magazine companies struggling, a lot of publishers looked to online as the answer and gave up on print too early. Magazines are geared to certain ever-changing demographics and if you do not continue to evolve with your demographics, you lose site of your objectives and eventually fail too. Staying on top of the evolution cycle has kept us in business.

Why did the publishers go online? Just to cut the expenses or to explore and use Internet as a new way to grow their audiences and to profit?

Most did it to cut expenses. Others did it because they thought it was a quick buck… and hastily threw stuff online. In the beginning, the technology wasn’t ready for true online magazines. Even now, it is in its infancy.

Why, please explain. I think that with all those tablets, the publishers or newspapers and magazines can finally come to something very different, than the standard desktop website editions?

With the iPad, Nook and Kindle, the options for digital magazines is actually becoming a reality. Many publishers are shooting themselves in the proverbial foot by taking their print magazine and just uploading it. The font is too small, the content is too much and it is not an enjoyable product for digital. You really have to understand both industries to do it correctly.

HostingTech is a fine example. They knew everything about the Internet and nothing about printing. So by overspending needlessly, they went out of business. You have to design for the medium. Our Digital magazines have separate content than our print magazine, with different designs and options. And as technology grows, we will adapt with it.

But you can finally make a story as long as it needs to be without complying with the limitations that come with the print. At the same time, one would add any kind of related content. Are you happy that people move from PCs to tablets?

Very happy. A print magazine is still a necessity in the fact that people want a product they can take with them to the park or even the bathroom to read. Laptops are too cumbersome and when I added a PC in the office bathroom, they weren’t reading magazines with it. There have been many ebook readers available in the past and a text version of Ping! Zine was downloadable for each format. But the early generation readers all failed until the iPad launched. We have seen a lot of success with our iPad digital versions

When did you launch Ping!Zine and was it the first magazine that covered IT hosting industry?

Launching Ping! Zine was a major chaotic time in our lives.


I got into the hosting business because our clients wanted websites and hosting for along with their other marketing needs. I enjoyed reading Web Host Magazine by Isabel Wang and HostingTech. Towards the end of 2002, Isabel decided to shelve the print version, going for more of a news site and little did i know, HostingTech was about to go completely belly up.

Based on mine and my partners publishing backgrounds, we thought we could pick up where Isabel left off by providing a fun hosting magazine to compete with the serious HostingTech and development was underway. Isabel even came on board in the beginning, with tremendous advice and friendship. We were 75% into the development when all of the sudden HostingTech employees announced they had been locked out of their offices and the magazine was shut down…

What do we do now when we were going to present ourselves as the competition to something that no longer existed.

Wasn’t something you needed to deal with at the start of a new project?

After bouncing around the idea of going with a more serious tone, we found out that Robert Marsh had bought the rights to HostingTech and knowing him, he would have changed it into a fun styled magazine. We felt defeated before we ever got to launch. But we were too committed and crazy to stop now and launched the first issue early 2003.

Did I mention Robert hired Isabel with the idea of her running HostingTech?

No! You didn’t!?

Rather than stepping in place to fill a void, it looked like we were going to compete with an already captured audience. Robert also bought WebHostingTalk and a few other properties at the time too.

Well, needless to say, Robert didn’t launch the revised HostingTech of Web Host Magazine and we were able to corner the market for a brief time. Thereafter we became very established and a leader in readership. That is the chaos I referred to…

Who’s reading Ping! Zine. Can you share any demographic data? Is the audience the same as it was within the first year after you’ve launch it?

The audience has evolved and expanded over the years.

Sure, but did it changed and how? Did most of the readers from the first years still with you, still subscribers?

We have never been strictly a web hosting news magazine. Our content has been has been about technology, hosting, design, and even gaming. Once we launched a quality digital magazine, we gained a new audience, interested in the technical articles and such. We have many of the same readers but have lost many to the same reason. The reason i got yesterday from an unsubscriber… let me get that

“Jonothan R. : Can you remove my name and company name from the magazine subscription? I know longer in the industry?”.

Over the years I have seen many companies fail, grow and be bought out. What was once a bunch of kids creating control panels and web hosting services in their parent’s basements is now a multi-billion dollar business, run by executives and college educated staff.

Do the readers and subscribers loose interest over the publication, if they exit the industry?

They lose interest over the hosting and tech industry in general. The largest provider of dedicated hosting services now operates and real estate investment company. Some are looking for the next big thing, others just suffer from burnout. The hosting industry is truly a 24/7 job. I remember doing 48 hour shifts when our servers were hacked.

You mean the founder of EV1 and RackShack?

Ha-ha, no names are mentioned or animals harmed during this interview.

You have already did it anyway!?

Gabe created iNet and when he sold to Troy, he became a major real estate investor.

Fine. Let’s continue talk about Ping! Zine. Do you know which are the best performing ads published in the pint edition? Is it hardware, software or service providers?

The great thing about a magazine is the banner doesn’t expire. When you buy an online ad banner, you need to capture that instant ROI but with a magazine, you get your product in their face multiple times and when the potential client needs it, they remember your name. Opening an old or new copy of a magazine is a lot quicker than going to a web site and hoping to see that certain banner again.

Because our readers aren’t just owners of hosting companies, they need to know about quality hosting plans tooл our readers may not need your services immediately, but they will need them and we create a long term marketing option for the sponsors to reach them… want to ask me why i call our advertisers sponsors?

Didn’t I asked already?

The only thing that keeps Ping! Zine alive, is out sponsors. Without them, we couldn’t stay in business and provide quality entertainment and education to our readership.

Sure, but why “Sponsor” sounds better than “Advertiser”?

Through their generous sponsorship, we can provide that and in return, get their names and products in the faces of our readers. We never just sell ads. We are constantly looking for “advertisers” with products our readers want. If it was about the money, i’d be in real estate investing.

Well. Are you saying the the market value of the Ping! Zine and the customers it drives to vendors and service providers isn’t enough? Or you just want to show appreciation to your advertisers and emphasize their importance?

We love Ping! Zine with a passion… show appreciation… meaning if it was about the money, we would be jamming each issue with nothing but ads offering every product under the sun.

You have used the word “real estate” business a couple of time during this interview. Don’t tell me you have never considered to move to this business?

LOL. If I had my real estate license when Hurricane Katrina hit us, I’d be a very wealthy individual. Property values around us doubled over night and demand was increasingly higher than supply. I was too busy trying to save my own company, while watching many of my peers close down for good. We were without power for months, our office ceilings were caved in, etc. We were able to survive and grow from that episode. Thanks to our sponsors and friends!

I understand that! Tell me is Ping! Zine best for consumers or for small-business owners or probably for larger companies?

It is best for the consumers, SMBs and employees of large companies. The mid to little guy.

All of them?

A: People who are running servers for their non-hosting related bosses, small to medium hosting and tech companies, and employees of large companies looking to get new information. We can’t educate the owner of a large company on how to grow his business when he is already at the top.

What kind of companies advertise most – hardware vendors, software apps and solution providers or service providers?

Hardware and software providers, Commerce, DDOS protection, Server support, Colocation facilities, etc.

How hard is to create good content in times that content depreciates very fast. Do you often see your publications copied?

I hope they at least reference us, and that makes us happy. For those that don’t, well us rednecks down south know how to deal with you when we find you. For those that don’t, well us rednecks down south know how to deal with you when we find you.

Isn’t it very expensive to send one overseas?

Very, that’s why our digital option is so appealing

Were you involved in any other niches of web hosting industry, except media publishing?

Yes, we were running a semi-successful web design and hosting company at the time.

Why did you decided to leave this business, Was it because you felt like you needed to do something you would do better… or just web design and hosting, especially web hosting is quite boring… ?

My background is in publishing, so it was natural to do this magazine… and i never left the hosting and web design industry. I still have a hosting and design company, mainly to keep me on my toes. What affects our readers, affects me too. I have to care about the industry, because I am still in it.

I saw cPanel bought a small Shared hosting provider to use it for testing. It is actually a good idea to have a business on the side, which could be used as a lab?

Yes, my feelings too

I have been always curious why the media in the web hosting industry are not critical to hosting providers and their business practices in a way that journalists do when it come to politics?

Personally Ping! Zine has always had a policy of looking for positive things on the tech/host industry to report about. We have covered things such as when The Planet data center caught on fire, but in a way to inform readers what was happening and what was being done. When something bad happens in the hosting industry, they cover it up well. Plus do you really care if hosting provider CEO “A” is sleeping with his assistant or whether he is taking care of the latest DDos attack?

We do cover any political items that affect our industry though.

Sure. But I didn’t see any web hosting media to say anything critical about Yahoo’s overselling or about other “Shared Hosts” that claim everything “unlimited”. There are many providers that mislead consumers and it is not like that the IT media would do anything to give publicity to such practices?. I’m just trying to understand why the IT journalists and writers look like they are always on the providers’ side by default, unlike political reporters who are always critical in their effort to protect the public interest… or maybe I’m wrong?

We covered overselling and “unlimited” issues many times in the beginning, but how many times do repeat yourselves?

So it pretty much depends on consumers’ judgement?
Yes, plus the fact that we run news related items on the website and article content in the publications. Breaking news in a magazine is old before it leaves the printers. We work on providing entertaining and educational articles in the magazines. A lot of our articles are worth reading a year from now.
Are you focusing on creating content and adapting the Ping!Zine for mobile readers?

That has always been our policy, always looking for good content and new ways to reach readers. Our digital issues have been a great success. We launched our iPad app last year.

Are you launching a version of the Ping! Zine website optimized for browsing on mobile devices?

Yes! The current website does well on multiple resizable formats but we are not happy with the cell phone veiwing, just yet. We are never completely satisfied with anything and always looking to do better.

Well This was a pretty much expected but a happy end of the interview?

Thanks for interviewing me. It was a blast!

Pulkit Gupta: Softaculous Helps Many People. We Learn From Them

Posted by hosttycoon On February - 3 - 2012

I met Pulkit Gupta at HostingCon 2011 in San Diego. I did’n have too much time to get to know him there, but at some point I decided that his Softaculous is not just a very interesting product, but it is a success story. At the time Softaculous was released there were at least one more well-established auto-installer software library, in a market that didn’t seem to need more. So I was interested to find out how did Pulkit maker breakthrough and how did he made Softaculous probably the popular auto-installer  software library.

Please tell me how did you come up with the idea to create Softaculous?

I noticed the difficulty people had in installing and maintaining their websites if they don’t have a technical background, which many people don’t have. The idea came from this very observation.

Were there any other auto-installer libraries before the launch of Softaculous? I think Fantastico was there, wasn’t it?

Yes, Fantastico was there. Later when we launched I realized two more were there as well. Installatron and SimpleScripts.

Then, I should to ask you did you resolve any issues that other auto-installers had and did you learn from them how to improve Softaculous?

Yes and no. As I said during the time I made Softaculous, the only one I knew was Fantastico. They were not regular updates n Fantastico at the time and that was one flaw we improved upon. I made sure our updates reach fast. Apart from that I found that we could innovate to such a great degree (as it is Softaculous now). And hence there are tons of features in Softaculous which were not there in our competitors and they now copy us. I guess the industry has also shown that Softaculous is a better product by adapting it.

Can you tell me how did you make the breakthrough? Is there any specific thing that helped you to make Softaculous so popular?

Not just one. We had so many innovative features such as: faster updates, demos, ratings, reviews, better UI, one click installation (many are still not one click till date). The only marketing we did was post at Web Hosting Talk in the “Announcements” forums whenever we released a cool new version. Rest was all word of mouth. The Softaculous success came because of the community of users, and also because of the hard work and innovation!… or the very

Do you remember the first web host that installed Softaculous?

Well Softaculous was a free installer for the first 6 months and we didn’t have any tracking of licenses in use then.

Is there a real competition in the market of auto-installer software products or the market is just too big so the companies would compete one to another?

The market is surely big and there is intense competition now. Before we entered the other players were, I guess, happy with the status quo. Fantastico with the one being the dominant one, Installatron being the an alternative to Fantastico and being dominant on DirectAdmin servers and SimpleScripts being the BlueHost installer. This was before Softaculous entered the market. But we did alter the way the market worked. Today I guess the competition has increased nearly 10 times what it was back then. It is good for the market.

What does Softaculous mean? Is it a word play game?

“Software” + Spectaculous” = Softaculous. This is how I thought of the name.

Were you the only one who created the core of Softaculous or you had partners in the development team?

I was the only one. I have been a coder since I was 16. I guess I learned quite a lot while writing Softaculous.

What was the most important project or job you had before the launch of Softaculous?

I used to maintain a forum software. I had also written an ERP for my Dad’s Factory which is still in use and handles production of over 100 Tons a day.

100 tons of …?


You obviously didn’t decide to lay on your father’s business and to have an easy life? What motivates you to work hard, to set and achieve goals and to move forward in business?

Well I guess one should do what one enjoys. And I enjoy software more than yarn (till date). Also in software you can play God as you are the creator of a whole new stuff! One single thought that motivates me is the fact that I want my software to be used by millions and millions of people.

Now I got it. You like being in charge :) ?

I guess yes :) Who doesnt !

Let’s get back to Softaculous! How you do you decide which scripts to add to Softaculous? What’s the objective? Is it to have the highest number of scripts automated for installation?

We see which scripts have a good potential and decide. Many suggestions come from users. Also we do want to have a very vibrant list of scripts in our library. I think the user should be given as many options as possible. The new script vendors should get a fair chance to enter the market. E. g. if a new blogging software comes along which is better than lets say WordPress, why should that script not be given a chance? Let the users decide which is the best in the market.

At the same time there are tons of scripts which come and go. We don’t add them.

Would you sell Softaculous one day or merge it with another software producer in order to achieve a certain business goals? Or you see it as a core, traditional business for you?

I really cant foretell the future. But I would do anything which is beneficial to the customers first. And yes Softaculous is a business for me which I enjoy.

So you are not one of those guys who would love to sell their business when they get a very good offer?

No, I wouldn’t sell Softaculous, its the way I am able to touch so many lives and help so many people who don’t know how to install or upgrade scripts.

So it is not just business, it is for cause?

Yes, I read this quote by Benjamin Franklin: “If you don’t want to be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing”!

I was just about to tell you that if you one day decide to enter politics it might work :) Business persons usually do care mostly about profits. You seem to think a little bit different?

I do care about profits as well. Also I feel rich people should do more to help the underprivileged people. I feel “With great power comes even greater responsibility”. I feel in sharing wealth when I have some considerable wealth that is to be shared.

OK, tell me is there any software scripts you have found and planning to add to Softaculous, which you find outstanding? Do you see any new application which would make a big breakthrough within the next few years?

I feel our 6 months our new product AMPPS which is a WAMP or MAMP stack is really a game changer. Its got Softaculous inbuilt and its free.

Thank you for your time Pulkit. It was good to talk to you!

thomas-strohe-world-hosting-daysThis is B10WH’s second in interview with Mr. Thomas Strohe, the man behind WordHosting Days show. Last year he has spoken to Dimitar to tell B10WH.com readers that “Everything Is More In WebHostingDay 2010“. This year we have contacted Mr. Strohe to ask him what to expect from the completely rebranded WordHosting Days event which is expected to welcome 4,000 participants.

Tell me is the World Hosting Days 2011 the biggest challenge for the WHD team? It looks you have grown a lot in 2010?

Our WorldHostingDays 2011 in Europa-Park will – again – be the world’s biggest hosting event. The event has grown a lot and it is one of our goals that people will once more say about our event that it is one of the best organized shows that they ever have been attending.

Do you expect more participants than WHD 2010 and is the exhibition area called hosting.FAIR bigger than last year?

While the attendance grew from 2,000 visitors in 2009 to more than 2,800 visitors in 2010, we already right now have more than 3,500 people that registered for our event in a few weeks. The exhibition area will not only be way bigger in terms of square meters, but also regarding the number of partners having a booth. In 2010 we had about 60 partners at our hosting.FAIR area, this year about 100 partners will be having a booth in that area.

Do you know any new software platforms and technologies which will debut during the WHD 2011?

All of our partners present their latest developments and future plans, of course. The attendees can discuss these either personally at the fair or hear about them in the talks and sessions. I am not aware of any special debuts at the moment, but you never know what the companies will pull out of their hats during WHD. It often occurs that this is only decided on short notice before the show starts.

I have an impression that WorldHostingDays is changing to become more an event where a larger corporations rather than middle-sized companies are presented. Please tell me do you still have space for companies which are not of large size?

Your impression is not correct. At WHD 2011 you will – of course – see the Microsofts and Parallels again, but we had the biggest growth not at the bigger partnership levels. The biggest growth clearly was at the basic gold partnership level – we will have more than 60 gold partners at WorldHostingDays 2011.

When you look at the agenda you can say “It is a another Cloudy conference”. I have seen keynotes titled “From Webhosting to Cloud Computing, Are You Ready for The Transformation”. One like this would be held in 2009 or 2010. What do you think, why the word “Cloud” is a keyword for the most keynotes as they are announced?

As long as there is no other really new big thing in the industry, the Cloud will probably remain the major buzzword at such conferences. And there is still potential in fact, because there are many companies and also private users left who don’t use the cloud by today. So all the hosting companies will try to make it even more attractive and add functionalities and security and convenience and so on.

Who’s new in WHD 2011? Who are the speakers that we will see for the first time and which are exhibitors which debut at the 2011 event?

Not only companies like Dell, NetApp, OnApp or Symantec but also companies like Flexiant, Kryptos, NovaStor, Telemax or Veeam will be partners of WHD for the first time. As I already said, we are really growing with partners of completely different company sizes.

Volker Smid (General Manager at HP), Paul van Brouwershaven (CTO at Networking4All) and Tobias Wann (Managing Director at VeriSign) are just some of our partners that will speak in our main.FORUM for the first time.

People who organize World Hosting Days has significant experience in hosting industry. Can you say that the Cloud computing trend changes the hosting hosting industry in favor of the larger corporate players?

I don’t think so. Every small hoster can offer cloud services to their customers, so they also profit from the hype that is mainly produced by larger companies in their huge advertising companies.

In my last year’s interview with Thomas Strohe I asked “Is the North American web hosting industry more innovative than the European one?” He said “No”. Did you see a major change in the European Hosting market (as far as we could use such definition) within the last year? Please also tell me how did the German hosting industry itself change within the last 12 months?

The one thing that comes to my mind is that they pay much attention to children’s protection today. As useful as the Internet has become and as much as it improves our life, you must not forget that there are also many threats for underage persons waiting there. Now hosting companies in Germany tend to include some web filters in their offers in order to protect the children.

Is there anything that we are missing up to this point that should be announced prior of World Hosting Days. Like the Cloud computing camp for example. Did you incorporated that one in WHD 2011 as you did last year?

We will have a new social event on the second evening. It is going to be a typical German party with much beer, nice food and good music. Kind of like the famous Oktoberfest.

Tell me about the Asian event named WHD.asia. Is it different from the European conference and what is its main focus?

Similar to our main event, WHD.asia will consist of different components. There will be talks delivered by industry experts, which will give you a deeper insight into certain aspects and topics of the hosting business. Secondly, our hosting.FAIR will offer everybody just the right forum to present their products and services. Last but not least, there will be social events like the ConneXion party in the evening, where you can follow up on business conversations, make some good deals or just have some nice food before you travel back home.

No matter if you are already represented on the Asian market or still need to enter it: WHD.asia is the perfect opportunity to get in contact with important industry colleagues from Asian companies. With WHD.asia we want to encourage European and US companies to introduce them to the Asian hosting community, or to tighten their connections to local companies, respectively. On the other hand, we also would like to invite Asian companies to take part and give them a forum to meet interesting business prospects. We are happy that big players of the Asian hosting market like Directi already seized the chance and will be a partner of WHD.asia.

What are your expectations of the WHD 2011 and of the changed brand “World Hosting Days”. Are you planning to organize an American event as well?

We changed the name from WebhostingDay to WorldHostingDays, or WHD respectively, in order to account for the show’s substantial development and growth. Moreover, the new name is intended to imply that WHD’s topics cover more than pure web hosting. Complementary industry sectors were already addressed in the past and became more and more important in the course of time.

With WorldHostingDays 2011 we want to set a milestone for hosting events – and I am very confident that we will achieve that goal!

Presently, there are no plans for an event in the USA, but there will be WHD.local at ten European locations in autumn 2011.