Web Hosting Thriving in 2011

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – If there was any doubt at all that web hosting is still a huge growth business, those doubts were erased with the resounding success of HostingCon 2011 in San Diego recently. For those that don’t know – HostingCon debuted in Chicago in 2005. The creator of HostingCon was Mr. George Roberts who is now CEO with Purity Networks. So how has HostingCon changed – and what do the current crop of attendees think about the evolution of the show? Below are the opinions of just a few of the leaders in web hosting post-HostingCon 2011.

As mentioned, George Roberts, CEO of Purity Networks has seen the changes to HostingCon firsthand. Here are Mr. Roberts thoughts on how HostingCon has changed over the years, ”To be honest, it’s roughly on the trajectory that I hoped it would be when I first came up with the idea in 2004. It’s still a great place to network with others in the hosted services industry and to learn more about the products and services that vendors offer to service providers. I think that it’s interesting to see the show and the industry changing with regards to traditional shared hosting, which is something we preached for several years when we owned the show. It’s nice to see the industry moving forward towards cloud computing. I think the industry has grown up a lot. When we first started the show there was investment money in the datacenter and infrastructure business, but the hosting services side of the business didn’t seem to be as mature. Today there is venture and angel capital everywhere trying to put their money to work in the hosted services sector. The people working in the industry seem to be a lot more mature as well. Many executives in the industry now have a history of leading large, established enterprises. It’s great to still be involved in the hosted services industry, even if it is just as an vendor of email protection services to hosting providers. My company, Purity Networks, aims to provide reasonably priced, high quality email protection services to hosting providers big and small.

Among this year’s attendees is veteran Monish Sood, Senior Marketing Manager at Microsoft Corporation who specializes in the web hosting side of the business. As a Platinum Sponsor of HostingCon for the past several years, Microsoft’s Hosting Division is in a unique position to understand the momentum of the industry. Mr. Sood made the following observations at HostingCon 2011, ”The event seemed well attended and there were several opportunities to connect and network with people. The exhibit hall had lots of sponsors and exhibitors and the general energy seemed positive. Obviously, Microsoft had the best party with the 80’s cover band at a great venue like the Hard Rock just next to the convention center. I thought the TrustWave SSL Certificates booth was particularly well designed and they had a great promotion to attract and retain interest throughout the event. Additionally, the networking lounge was a great area to have impromptu meetings. I want to give special mention to William Toll for his brilliant idea to connect the top Tweeters in the industry at the networking lounge. It was a really interesting experience to match faces to Tweets. Plus we got to learn interesting things about how each company handles social media differently.”

Traveling internationally to attend a trade show is an enormous commitment. To do so year after year for the same event speaks volumes about the value of that show to industry participants. Stuart Melling is co-founder of 34SP.com – a UK WordPress hosting company founded in the year 2000 with a strategy based around world-class customer service and support. Mr. Melling has made the trip overseas to virtually every HostingCon event since its founding and explained how this year’s show compares, ”I have consistently seen the quality of the educational sessions and the quality of the exhibitors at HostingCon rising through my years of attending HostingCon. I remember during the early years of HostingCon that there would sometimes be a session which was not much more than a veiled ‘sales pitch’ for the vendor’s product. This year in San Diego the sessions were almost purely educational. In addition, the sessions contained real and actionable tactics for growing a web hosting company. This is exactly what I came to see. Not that everything at HostingCon was ‘stuffy’ – quite the opposite. If anyone was at the cPanel, Dreamhost or Microsoft parties then they know that HostingCon mixes business with pleasure. In fact, some of the most productive discussions were held off site with vendors during an informal gathering like a drink

John Enright is President of HostMySite – a service focused web hosting provider. HostMySite caters to businesses and developers that are serious about their web presence. The company’s job is to help customers succeed on the web. Mr. Enright explained what he saw at HostingCon in 2011, ”There was a palpable sense of energy and excitement at this year’s event. The growth of the industry continues to accelerate both in terms of overall size and the breadth of services offered – and that was reflected in the number and variety of companies exhibiting at the show. I thought Simon Wardley’s keynote took a subject that has been hyped up and talked about ad nauseam – the cloud – and put it into perspective in a very concrete, yet entertaining way. I loved the mobile app that TrustWave developed – what a creative way to encourage attendees to interact with their brand. I was also encouraged to see lots of new vendors at the show – it’s still very much an entrepreneurial space.”

DreamHost CEO Simon Anderson has a fun bit of work in front of him – having recently stepped into running DreamHost. Here are Mr. Anderson’s thoughts, ”A few words come to mind with regard to HostingCon 2011: ‘connected’, ‘seeking the next thing’, ‘biz dev!’. The location and program gave lots of opportunity for the best thing about any conference – meeting up with peers, competitors and partners and talking about all the cool, creative things we can do to move the industry (and our businesses!) forward. It was also great for me to see so many old friends from my days at Affinity Internet. Stellar.

Some memories from San Diego are: Riding around in a DreamHost pedicab, then asking if I could ride it, and taking the dutch guy for a ride! Hanging out at Jolt’n’ Joe’s with all our local San Diego customers who came along to meet the DreamHost team, and also seeing so many industry peeps have a great time playing Rock Band, pinball games, and Galaga! Caught up with the Tier1 Research crew and got the latest on the industry. Saw all the new innovations in software and systems to make hosting and cloud more deliverable and efficient.”

Ben Fisher has also recently stepped into a new role – Director of Marketing at cPanel. Mr. Fisher has been working together with hosting providers for over a decade and has attended every single HostingCon event – and also been a speaker at many as well. Here is what Mr. Fisher took away from HostingCon this year, ”HostingCon was in a fantastic location, the after-HostingCon networking was a smashing event (who can argue with frozen yogurt made with dry ice!). Overall I thought that (beyond there be way too many parties on Monday night) the concept of Cloud has become less confused as a buzz word and that a majority of ‘cloud’ followers see it as VPS. As far as parties and events, cPanel Monday night, seeing DreamHost’s Simon Anderson, ok I am biased here but the HostingNews dinner was a grand hoopla and even cPanel’s Tuesday event went really well. On the exhibit hall floor the team at Trustwave did a phenomenal job with the MadLocks game and leaderboard contest. Plus, I decided at HostingCon to join cPanel! That rocked!”

For further information on HostingCon you can visit the HostingCon website at: http://www.hostingcon.com and also check out the HostingCon Twitter feed at: http://twitter.com/#!/hostingcon.