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igor-seletsky-cloud-linuxIn this interview B10WH.com presents Igor Seletsky, CEO of CloudLinux. Igor has created a fantastic software automation product, an OS that helps web hosting companies and SaaS provides to optimize resource usage on their servers and to prepare for the Cloud. I can even say that CloudLinux saves smaller hosting providers from fierce competition of larger corporate hosters. I’m not saying superlatives about Igor or about his company’s software. Ask anyone and you’d find out that CloudLinux (CL) is a very popular hosting automation solution. But this is not the reason to feature Igot at B10WH. I wanted to speak to him because I knew he was a great guy and our readers would like meeting him. Here he is!

Tell me how did you come up with the idea to create CloudLinux?

I knew about the problem facing Shared Hosting companies for years. I had developed H-Sphere since 1997, and one of the most critical issues was always single customer affecting all other customers. Yet, we never had a good approach to deal with it. Nor did any of our competitors. So, after few years of not doing software for hosting industry, I took a look at what is going on – and noticed that this problem is still not addressed by anyone. I researched it a bit, and figured out that I have an elegant solution for it. Hence  – CloudLinux.

Did you develop H-Sphere alone? I remember it was quite popular at the time! Can you share with B10WH.com readers how many of you worked on the H-Sphere project?

I started PSOFT (the company behind h-sphere) with a partner back in 1997. In 2005, when it was sold to Comodo, the company had 60+ people, most of them working on H-Sphere, or providing tech support for h-sphere.

OK. I’m curious why didn’t you continue developing web hosting control panels? Was it because you needed to work on something innovative which would resolve any particular technical issue in Shared Hosting industry?

I felt the need to expand the sales/marketing expertise, as well as technical team to compete with cPanel & Parallels. That was the main reason for selling company to Comodo. I thought there is enough control panels on the market, and didn’t want to do something that was already done.

Are you saying you are not tempted to add a hosting control panel as add-on product to CloudLinux in the future?

Not at all. I don’t think there is a need on the market for another control panel. cPanel and Parallels are doing quite a good job, and people who don’t like either of those have a choice of ISPManager, DirectAdmin, InterWorx, HostingController, WebMin, and probably few others that I haven’t heard about.

Which control panels are compatible with CloudLinux?

All that I listed above, and probably some others. Anything that works on CentOS, will work on CloudLinux. We also have quite a few people running CloudLinux with their own, home grown solutions.

Please now explain CloudLinux for dummies! What does it do? What makes it valuable and important for server administrators?

Back in 2010 we asked hosting companies to list top 3 reasons for server downtime. Single customer causing server downtime was the number one reason. Such incidence cause downtime more often then hardware or software failures, security issues, software updates or any other reasons. What CloudLinux does – it prevents ability of customer to cause such downtime. We effectively limit CPU & memory usage of the customer, so if customer starts to overload server – limits will be applied, and customer’s site will be limited (and will be slow or down). Yet, all other sites on the server will not notice any issues.

It is funny. When you say – “We effectively limit CPU & memory usage of the customer, so if customer starts to overload server – limits will be applied, and customer’s site will be limited” – this sounds exactly whata customers do not want. but it is actually more important for site owners, than for web hosts… because CloudLinux keeps the servers up and running and those hosted on them should be happy about it  Isn’t it like that?

Yes, and no. Imagine you have a server with 500 users. One of them causing downtime. 499 of those users really want that solution.

Actually, that extra one customer also want that solution, because when his site brings down the server, the downtime affects him as well. Of course some customers are limited at the moment when they just start slowing down the server, or just hit the limit. Yet, because we provide exact metrics, and show how much CPU was used, and when – most of them are accepting it, and hosts use such data to upsell heavy customers to VPS solutions.

Do you think that hosting providers who use CloudLinux should advertise it to customers and to say things like “Powered by CloudLinux”? Are you working to make CloudLinux popular to all site owners or you need it to be recognizable on an enterprise level only?

Many hosts already advertise CloudLinux as a way to show higher stability. And many resellers recognize CloudLinux as a stability factor, and only want to be placed on servers with CloudLinux.

Hmm… that’s great. This means that ClouLinux reached a level of reputation which is making it something like a standard in the Linux hosting market?

I believe so. Lots of people recognize the name now, especially among cPanel hosts.

I have met with the executives of many web hosting providers who have deployed CloudLinux and are happy about it. My personal opinion is that CloudLinux is going to become or even has become a standard in web hosting industry and this is not a compliment, because I meant it. I know all customers are important and that you might not want to point attention to any particular hosting provider, but I’m curious who was the first hosting provider to buy and deploy CloudLinux?

We had several running it at pretty much the same time. uk2 was one of the first ones.

This is interesting. Does CloudLinux fit to their OneApp Cloud platform? Is it integrated with it?

Sure. OnApp comes with CloudLinux template, and lots of hosts who use OnApp, also use CloudLinux

You now, when I do these interviews, my objective always is to show to the B10WH.com readers, who’s behind the technology. So let’s talk about you. Are you graduated in computer science and how important was your education for your today’s business?

I was doing CS degree, but I never graduated. I started PSOFT instead. The education was pretty important, as it gave me enough knowledge to understand underlying technology.

It is funny. I know many fine professionals in this industry who are either top executives or owners of popular brands and did not have time to graduate because put all their energy in business! What does your wife says about that?

My wife just completed her Phd, and thinks it is a total disgrace that I left college :)

You know, the smart people who do PHd’s and the university professors should always remember that there is a real business that support in academics and the universities.

I think it was a mistake on my part to abandon college. It wasn’t the best decision for sure.

You told me once you have 3 kids. On which side of the technology business do you see them – as consumers or as professionals?

I will let them decide!

Someone might say it is irresponsible not to guide your kids ;) but the truth is that you are probably a very good father, if you want them to choose by themselves. Most parents don’t do this?

I don’t know, but I think it would be irresponsible to decide for them. It is their life, and they should have a chance to make their choices. Of course they still have to get college education, and I will have some troubles explaining them why it is a must have.

How far will you go with CloudLinux. Which direction is it going to go. Will you develop it more like an OS (Os itself) or it will be an application for the Red Hat family operating systems. Or you are going to try building any kind of one-stop automation solution for hosting providers (excluding the control panels, as fas as you said you are not doing control panels anymore)?

CloudLinux is an OS, it is a fork of RHEL, but we plan to keep it as close to RHEL as possible. The goal is to make it the best OS for Shared Hosting companies and we are concentrating solely on that.

Can anyone install it as stand-alone OS on a server or they need to have a RHEL OS installed on the server first?

Anyone can install it from the disk (we provide ISO image), though majority of people have pre-installed CentOS, and convert instead.

We are speaking a week prior to World Hosting Days conference in Germany. What do you expect from this event. And where CloudLinux is more popular by the way? Is it in the United States and Canada, in Europe or Asia?

CloudLinux is most popular in US, UK, followed by Asia and Eastern Europe. We don’t have lots of penetration in Germany and other western European countries, as that market is prefers Debian & Suse – which makes it more difficult for them to switch to CL.

WHD looks very exciting this year. It sounds like it is going to be biggest hosting event ever, and we are looking forward to meet our existing and future customers.

Thank you very much for your time Igor. I’m speaking to you in 2011 and I hope that when we’re doing the next interview CloudLinux will be even bigger and the OS will become a true standard in Shared Hosting.

martin-adreev-vp-operations-host-color“We do not consider “Cheap” as an option even in our marketing campaigns”, explains Martin Andreev a VP of Operations of HostColor.com, a well-known middle-sized web hosting provider. He adds that his company can not be found in any Search engine by keywords like “cheap hosting” or “cheap web hosting”. The company he runs has been around for more than 12 years and it’s managing team has been part of the rapidly changing web hosting industry. We are speaking to Martin about Host Color’s business and about his view about hosting industry’s developments.

Hi Martin, good to have you here. If you have to describe Host Color with a few words, what would you say? Is it a “Shared Hosting provider”, is it a “cheap hosting provider” or anything else?

It is my pleasure to do this interview for B10WH. Thank you for the opportunity. Speaking about Host Color I would say just “Quality Web Hosting”. It could be also “Shared Hosting”, “cPanel Hosting” or “Quality Dedicated Hosting”, but not “cheap”. I don’t understand “cheap” as “low in price”. In web hosting “cheap” does not refer to the price. It refers to unreliable. I know that many people would disagree with me, but just take a look any of those “cheap hosting” offerings. They are not based on the stability of the hardware systems, redundancy of the network or on how does the hosting company’s support work. All they say to customer is “you can get it cheap”. And “cheap” means a lack of standards. Cheap means that someone got a budget server or even a desktop computer with one hard drive and put a few hundreds of virtual hosting accounts on it. This is exactly what any reputable web hosting company must not do!

“Cheap” is not an option for Host Color. Nothing is cheap and  we do not do cheap. We do “low cost”, Quality Shared Hosting, VPS and Dedicated servers. Hope that this answers your question, despite that I would not use such words to describe Host Color’s business.

What would you say then?

It is on our website. We say we do “Web hosting about people, not about websites”.

How important is Shared Hosting in your customer portfolio?

It is quite important. Our company entered into the web hosting market as Shared Hosting provider in 2000. I wasn’t named Host Color at that time, however. HostColor.com was registered in January 2002. We started with dedicated servers hosted in what was RackShack, at the time, a company based out of Houston, Texas, that doesn’t exist anymore (It entered to mergers to become part of ThePlanet). What I know from those who founded Host Color that it wasn’t a reliable dedicated server provider so we moved quickly to set up our own IT hosting infrastructure in South Bend, Indiana.

Why Indiana? It doesn’t sound like a popular location for a web hosting provider?

It is very good however! We are very close to Chicago (the ping time is 4.5 ms) and the location works great for all American customers, no matter they are from East coast, West coast or live in the central states. It is great location for Canadian customers as well. The RTT (Editor’s note: Round-trip time) is low for Europe and Asia as well.

You claim to offer redundant network. Which provider do you have?

We are connected to Level3, Cogent and to Internap through a local ISP. We are also working to add two more provide or quality bandwidth in Q1 – Q3 of 2013. One would provide access to European peering to our customers, while the other one would shorten the RTT to Asia. We are also using a few smaller IP bandwidth providers which operate in Midwestern U.S.. Our network is reliable and we guarantee 100% network uptime in our Service Level Agreement. Most of our Shared and Dedicated servers customers are currently enjoying more than 1300 days up-time. However I should say that there is more to be done and we are working on it.

I saw that Host Color manages customers’ accounts with a control panel named NextColor. I wasn’t able to find anyone else to using that one. Tell me more about it. Is it a proprietary technology?

Yes. We developed it in 2003 – 2004 and it was one of the best server automation software on the market at the time. However we decided not to release a commercial distribution and to use it in-house only. This wasn’t the best decision for other control panel itself, because we did not work hard to update it the way commercial hosting automation panels are updated. So in 2010 we have decided to migrate all customers of ours to cPanel/WHM. We still have a few thousands of customers on NextColor, but we decided to migrate to cPanel. I know that we have plans to rebrand our control panel and to release a commercial version, but this would happen in 2013 – 2014.

Why? Do you say your control panel isn’t good enough?

I don not say that! It is an excellent web server automation software. It is stable, secure and easy to use. However we are not a software producer. We are a web host and we decided to focus in providing high quality web hosting, not in developing a hosting automation product. We are spending on improving the network, on testing and then implementing the best hosting automation standards and to continue providing the best possible customer support. These are very different from software development.

There is one more thing. We have seen that cPanel has become truly great software automation product within the last few years. Most web hosts abandoned the server management systems they used to use to migrate to cPanel. If we didn’t migrate our customers to cPanel we’d loose value.

How would any hosting provider loose value if they use Plesk or any other control panel, not cPanel for example?

cPanel has become the most popular server automation standard in Linux hosting. Having Enkompass they are now a player in the Windows hosting market as well. Plesk is also good, we offer it to VPS customers hosted on the Parallels Virtuozzo Containers virtualization platform. However we use cPanel/WHM for Shared hosting. It is indisputably the best automation product for Shared and Reseller Hosting, which means that it is the same for managing a stand-alone dedicated servers. I have a good news for our customers as well. We have begun offering cPanel Cloud Hosting.

Isn’t it something that any web hosting provider already does?

Not really! Take a look at Cloud hosting offerings announced by different providers and you will that they are Virtual Private Servers delivered from any Cloud computing platform. What we do is a High Availability cPanel based virtual hosting. This means that we offer Shared Hosting accounts hosted on a Cloud. We have a cluster of servers, which feature load-balancing and High Availability and the accounts of our Shared Hosting customers reside on top of the cluster. It is an excellent service, because our customers save money and time on software licensing and on virtual private server management. We use a technology called Fuscan Linux Cloud to automate cPanel Cloud management and provisioning of virtual hosting accounts on the cloud. It is a new technology and we were one of the first to implement it.

I’m skeptical when it comes to Cloud computing. Nowadays everyone is speaking about it and most providers claims to have it. At the same time it requires a huge investment to build a Cloud computing hosting service? So how could a small or a middle-size d hosting company afford to own a cloud computing infrastructure ?

Well, the major providers want consumers to think that they are the ones who could build and operate a stable Cloud computing hosting infrastructure. However the reality is different. It requires an investment to build a Cloud infrastructure, but it is not a mission impossible. I’d say that any company would start with an investment of $50,000 and to scale its Cloud infrastructure up, depending on the growth rates.

Host Color Cloud is not a monster infrastructure. It is growing and the growth rate depends on customers’ demand. So if anyone says that Cloud computing is a privilege for a companies of large scale like Amazon, RackSpace, etc. then you know one’s opinion is biased. You can see a that more and more web hosting providers adopt some kind of Cloud computing technologies. You can see a growing number of Cloud enablers. So without claiming to be an expert, I can say that we see a lot of competition in the Cloud Hosting market. It is not a competition of corporations however.

Let’s get back to Host Color’s business? How do you see your company in the today’s very competitive hosting market? What do you do to attract customers? I didn’t see much of an advertising for Host Color, compared to some other hosting providers.

We have our own sales and marketing channels and they work good for us. We do not heavily advertise our Shared Hosting, because we do not do “unlimited” disc space and unlimited everything Shared Hosting. We are working to get customers who need stable and customized web hosting environment, which means VPS and Dedicated servers. In the Shared hosting niche we recommend and are trying to attract web designers and developers who are using specific content management systems like MODx, CMS Made Simple, TextPattern, bEvolution, Drupal, Joomla, Typo3. This is not something other do not do, but we have a tradition in supporting different Open Source CMS.

Do you do any Affiliate program?

Yes we do and we offer good payout rates, because unlike Shared Hosting providers Host Color is a popular for its Virtual Private Servers and Dedicated Hosting services. But we don’t do crazy, unrealistic commissions on Shared hosting like $100 or $120 per sale. Our standard affiliate commission is 25% of the sale amount. The lowest commission is $11.97 for Blog Hosting plan. The highest one is a $199.75 per a sale of Dedicated Hosting Power, purchased on monthly contract. However we have customers who buy dedicated hosting services on annual basis, which means that an affiliate could make $1,437 if they refer a customer, who buys a Dedicated Power, dedicated server.

Would you sale Host Color if any bigger web host makes an offer?

I don’t know. This is not my responsibility. Owners must decide on any such offerings. What I know from them is that we would never sell our customers. I have seen a lot of statements like “We buy customers” or “Sell your customers”. It is ridiculous! Host Color has more than 10 years of  business history in the web hosting industry. Our brand and our reputation bring business. So I presume that the company would consider any buyout offering, only if it accounts Host Color’s brand reputation and business history, not just our annual revenue.

Thank you very much for this interview Martin.

It was my pleasure. Thank you for your  time and your business. I’m glad to be one of the hosting industry professionals featured at B10WH.

Another Overselling Web Host Went Unlimited

Posted by hosttycoon On April - 29 - 2009

sitegroundSiteground became another shared hosting provider that went “Unlimited”. The web host used to be number 1 ranked website in Google on “web hosting” search term for almost 2 years. It was known with its unrealistic offerings, which featured 200 GB disc space as a part of shared hosting plans.

However as many other oversellers, Siteground succeeded to attract customers and hasn’t failed to provide them with a decent service and good customer support. The company has been an advertiser of B10WH.com at the time when our web hosting media was more top web hosting list than an original resource for web hosting related content.

Salute Siteground! Unlimited sounds better than 200 GB disc space on shared server. Now the web host’s customers can not ask for their 200 gigs because no one know how much “unlimited” is?