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.
You’re quite transparent about a node uptime & ticket response times, do you think this helps set better expectations with potential customers?
Absolutely. People always comment on the ticket response time and the node status information in reviews they write. The biggest myth about budget providers is the lack of support, I think if more providers displayed their ticket response times it would build a better reputation for all budget providers.
What are common things that people use your servers for?
Hands down the most common use is VPNs. Webservers, DNS, monitoring, and IRC are all very popular also.
Your backup servers are extremely popular & get great recommendations. But we’ve heard that the margins are slim, can you explain the economics of providing backup solutions?
In the past month or two the demand for our backup VPSs has jumped substantially which is why we’re currently sold out of them. I’ve heard others say profit is minimal on backup services, but we don’t see it. I think that compared to other services the margins look bad, but for us they’ve treated us well.
What’s been your biggest challenge to date running your business?
The biggest challenge has been the learning curve we had to experience. When we first started, there were a ton of other providers like us who had more experience and an unwillingness to share it (we were the competition after all so that’s understandable). We had to learn everything by trial and error, with the error usually be an expensive one. New hosts today have it nice with so many established providers willing to help out.
Where do most of your customers come from? Does your activity in forums like LET help business in general?
Location-wise, most of our clients are from overseas (hence the VPN love) although I have noticed a lot of our US-based clients are from Florida where we are at which has been really nice we’re getting noticed locally. Forum activity has been key to our success. I’m active on both WHT and LET and I think that activity provides a level of confidence when people see me out there interactive with others, it shows them that we’re real people.
We see low end hosts starting to become a bit of a commodity, what do you think sets you apart?
Consistency is key. We decided very early on that we will never try to compete with pricing and performance. Both are a never-ending game that we don’t want any part of. We focus on consistently being able to deliver a certain level of quality. No matter how fast a server is, it doesn’t matter if it’s offline.
Earlier this year your migrated from GoRACK to E Solutions, what’s involved in a complete Datacenter move like this?
For us, it was lots of driving. Fortunately, we had a handful of servers on hand that we had just purchased and were sitting unused so we setup those servers in the new data center and for the majority of our clients, we were able to do a live migration so aside from the IP change it was painless. Unfortunately there were some hiccups, but we didn’t expect everything to go perfectly so we already planned to work through the night until it was resolved.
What piece of hardware in your Datacenter is your favourite & why?
Our HP Procurve 1400-24G switch. It’s an unmanaged gig switch we use for our management network and it just works. It’s refreshing to have a piece of equipment you can’t login to so you don’t have to worry about it.
Any plans to open any more locations?
We have always been entertaining the idea and hope to have a definite answer by the end of the year. I may be moving out of Florida next year and if so, it’s almost certain I’ll be bringing some servers with me.
We’re seeing a increasing amount of Cloud VPS providers, what do you think differentiates a Cloud VPS from one of your OpenVZ or KVM plans? Any plans to move into this space?
I always see the word “cloud” and “high availability” as interchangeable. High availability is definitely the future of hosting whether it’s load balanced nodes on redundant SANs or 2 Low End Boxes with rsynced data and DNS failover. I have always been interested in high availability since the beginning when we started with a SAN of our own but it’s still not financially viable for the budget market we focus on.
If you could host (or attempt to host) any website in the world, what would it be & why?
I would want to host a website that hasn’t yet been developed. I would love it if somebody with a creative mindset wanted to open a revolutionary website and decided to use us as the platform for their creation.
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