Linode have played a huge part in defining the VPS industry, founded in 2003 & launched in the Softlayer Dallas, Texas Datacenter. 6 Datacenters, 75,000 customers & a few INC500 awards later Linode has announced the launch of their NextGen platform – increasing bandwidth, CPU allocation, RAM & significant network upgrades.

ServerBear took some time out to have a chat with Linode Founder Christoper Aker (@caker) & COO Tom Asaro (@tomasaro).

Linode has been around since early 2003. Can you tell us a little bit about how the company came about?

Chris: I was living in Nashville and decided to leave my day job and take a shot at starting my own business. I gave myself twelve months for it to become self-sustaining. I was already running a small shared hosting business on the side, but as I looked at the industry, I saw that virtualization was going to be the next big thing. Little did I know it was going to be this big, or that cloud computing was going to be such a big deal. So that’s how it started. A month after I came up with the idea I came up with the Linode name, and I knew I had something good.

Tom: Don’t forget how much time you spent writing our platform infrastructure. And from the day before you launched, you were getting at least one new customer every day.

Chris: I came up with the idea and the name, got to work developing everything, and seven months later, on June 16, 2003, Linode opened its doors to immediate success. The initial deployment was two servers with 3 GB of RAM each, a remote serial console box, a remote power controller, and a used Cisco FastEthernet switch I bought off eBay. Soon I was spending all of my time trying to get new hardware online.

Tom: Linode was before its time. We pioneered the VPS industry.

What’s the culture like at Linode?

Chris: Benevolent dictatorship.

Tom: Yeah. Linodians in the Kingdom of Linodia.

Chris: I’m kidding.

Tom: I still feel that even after 10 years it has a family-like, startup-like atmosphere. We’re able to remain agile and make changes. We don’t have meetings about meetings. We’re all a bunch of technology junkies and geeks.

Chris: What I see is that everybody really cares about what they do. I always say, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be here. And I think that resonates with everybody. This isn’t just a job, it’s fun. Not only are all our employees happier in what they’re doing, but they do a better job at it.

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2013 is here & we’re excited for what the hosting industry has to offer in the coming 12 months. We had the chance to catch up with Seann & Lorne from GridVirt over the holidays to chat a little about their SSD offering & some thoughts on the industry.

How did the idea for GridVirt come about?

Seann: I registered GridVirt Inc. in early 2010 and I’ve had the domain since 2008-2009. The idea was to build a service that excluded as many single points of failure as possible. Though I’ve worked extensively with both clustered storage as well as HA-SAN (iSCSI & FC), both have their faults. I decided the best path for both performance and reliability was local storage with remote replication in a HA-AF (high availability w/ automatic failover) setup.

Last year when SSDs really became main stream I knew it was the right time to start GridVirt. SSDs offer a level of performance and reliability that I’ve never seen with HDDs. Mission critical high performance hosting goes hand in hand with SSD storage.

Lorne: I had posted a thread in WHT looking for a partner to start a VPS/Cloud based Hosting company. I was contacted by 7-8 people over the course of a month and none of them really struck me as people I wanted to get into business with. Seann contacted me about 5 weeks after I made the post and we got along well, and it immediately became clear he really knew his stuff when it comes to the many different facets of building, maintaining, and running a hosting company.

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BuyVM are a Canadian based hosting company with servers located in San Jose, California & Buffalo, New York. Francisco took some time to sit down with us & provide what is probably the most interesting interview we’ve done to date, grab a cup of coffee or a beer for this one ^_^

Tell us a little bit about how BuyVM started?

After our move to Fremont our Frantech brand was more or less sold out within a couple months. Workloads were pretty low since there wasn’t much to break with vmware.

At the time I was talking with the owner of 123Systems, Andrew, and he kept going on about lowendbox and how the budget market is thriving and a cash cow. He had the BuyVM domain spare (he tried to sell it but surprisingly no one wanted it) so I took it off his hands.

We put together some prices for what we thought was fair (given it was unmanaged) and posted things more so as a test of the market than anything else. Within our 5 days we sold well over 100 units which is pretty good for a brand that only started a couple weeks prior.

From there we got up to 5 nodes and then made the decision that our focus should change from Frantech to BuyVM as it was not only more profitable but a lot more enjoyable too.

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This week Joe from SecureDragon took some time out of his schedule to chat with us, they have just gone through a complete rebrand of their services splitting their main brand Secure Dragon out into 3 sub brands. So those of you that may be familiar with the Secure Dragon name those services now exist as ServerDragon. We use one of the ServerDragon backup plans (BU25) to store some of our own redundant backups.

SecureDragon is a few years old now, tell us a little bit about how the company came about?

Back in September of 2009, I was using a backup service and one day the service went offline (hardware failure). As I was waiting for it to come back online I searched around for an alternative but couldn’t find one in my price range. I stopped looking and started crunching some numbers and working out some rough plans for my own backup service. I brainstormed with a friend of mine and on September 28th I purchased BackupDragon.com, a few months later my current partner (and dad) Steve joined us. After a few months of development (and lots of meetings), I found LowEndBox.com and took an interest in it and caught the LEB addiction.

We finally got our backup service out of testing and into the real world when I brought up the idea of offering LEBs on our backup server since we have terabytes of extra storage, a CPU that was way overkill for a backup server, and lots of RAM to spare. After a few days we worked out the plans and logistics and purchased ServerDragon.com and SecureDragon.net. We listed our backups on BackupDragon.com, our VPSs on ServerDragon.com, and our control panels on SecureDragon.net (and being the central site we decided on Secure Dragon LLC. for our business name). To avoid confusion we dropped BackupDragon and ServerDragon.

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DigitalOcean are a New York based start-up that has been making waves in the VPS community with a simplified approach to spinning up Cloud VPS servers (or Droplets – as they call them) starting at just $5. We took some time out to have a chat with one of the Co-founders, Ben Uretsky.

 
Where did the idea for DigitalOcean come from?

All of the founding members had experience either in managed hosting or building other cloud providers. The idea to build DigitalOcean originated when one of our founders needed to get a rails app online easily and quickly. The experience was so frustrating, and we figured that there had to be other developers out there looking for a simple cloud provider, with great pricing, that would quickly allow them to get their servers online.

What are some the challenges starting a new cloud hosting company from the ground up?

The challenges of building a new cloud hosting company really originates from having to create market awareness in a crowded space. There are a lot of competitors in the cloud hosting industry, and it is a challenge to get your name out there and gain market position. We have put a strong emphasis on our differentiators, namely simplicity and price.

You use KVM to power your Droplets, tell us a more about the decision to use that particular type of Virtualization?

KVM is taking over as the leading virtualization engine and has full kernel level support. The entire Linux community is rallying behind it. We love the feature set that KVM provides over Linux, especially that it gives us a full birds eye view of the Hypervisor’s performance.

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In the last month we’ve really been trying to push our coverage of benchmarks for cloud hosting, since Atlantic.Net offers a free trial it was easy for us to get good benchmark coverage across all of their plans. They currently outperform the majority of other providers in our Cloud IO Benchmarks so we were intrigued to learn more.

Marty Puranik, the CEO & Founder of Atlantic.Net took some time out of his busy schedule to ask a few questions & get into a bit of detail about their cloud offering.

Atlantic.Net has been around for a long time in Internet terms (since 1994). Tell us a little bit about the company.

Atlantic.Net was founded in 1994 and started off providing Internet access. We’ve obviously changed and re-invented our business model several times, morphing into a high-speed DSL provider, Colocation provider, and now a Cloud hosting provider. We’re passionate about technology and trying to do big things.

What’s the culture like at Atlantic.Net?

Atlantic.Net is a company focused on trying to do the best we can. Our hope is that even if it’s for a split second, we’ve pushed humanity forward in some way or done something no one has done before. Every day we try to improve what we do, even if it’s an incremental change. We also try to use reason and logic to make our decisions, and in that sense we are pragmatic. Overall, I would say we’re reaching for stars, trying to pioneer new ideas. We’re basically looking for the romance and fairy-tale of building an amazing business.

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We’ve been working closely with a number of hosts in the last few months & we decided it’d be great to understand a little more about their business – including there thoughts on the industry & hopefully get into some of the technical detail about their setups. Use our contact form to get in touch if you’d like to participate.

Nick Adams (@Mr_Nicky_A) the owner of RamNode has kindly taken the time to answer some questions I sent him, I’ve tried to tailor the questions to each host to hopefully mix things up & bit plus touch on some different topics.

RamNode isn’t your first web hosting company. Tell us a little bit about how you got started?

I started back in 2006 doing shared web hosting at NickHost.net. It was a natural transition from designing small websites for a family friend to hosting those websites and eventually others for local contacts. Then after a few years of basically running NickHost as a hobby, I started promoting my services on Twitter. I eventually gained larger clients with needs for more robust hosting solutions than what I currently offered. At that point I jumped into the VPS hosting market, just trying to offer enough RAM to serve a few of those bigger clients. Around the same time, Minecraft hosting caught my eye. It was really starting to take off and I fortunately had the resources available to enter the market with a quality product. I originally hosted a few Minecraft servers at NickHost before founding MinecraftLayer around August of 2011. I never had any interest in really targeting the general VPS market until a friend suggested it in May of this year. That’s when I started RamNode, and we haven’t looked back since!

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