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Analytics to drive the next wave of innovation in the cloud

Analytics is an increasingly important part of the hosting user experience. Today’s customer has access to more data than ever before and it is available to them at a click of the mouse. They can get direct insight into things like network performance, disk and storage usage, traffic patterns, security issues, and spending trajectories. The data is displayed in attractive and easy-to-read bars and graphs and often updates in real-time.

But things were not always this way. Early hosters often had patchwork systems that produced disjointed data on disparate systems. Things were not always very efficient and the customer had very little visibility or access to this data. But the need to enhance the user experience has pushed hosters to collect, organize and analyze this data. They have built advanced tools to get this done and turn this data into intelligence for the customer.

This has a number of different benefits. Analytics provides the end user with flexible options to optimize their spending on hosted infrastructure. In the world of cloud, this is of particular importance. The ability to scale infrastructure is useless without the information that tells you when it should be done. Organizations are often faced with unpredictable traffic patterns and the more data they have, the easier it is to scale cloud infrastructure optimally. Accurate data also enables customers to enhance performance for their end users. Without a proper picture of how infrastructure is performing and real-time alerts, it is difficult for customers to make decisions. All that changes when the right analytics are available and readily accessible.

Why is analytics going to be, and already is, one of the next big things in hosting and cloud? First and perhaps foremost, it is an area ripe for differentiation. There is a lot of room to innovate and be creative. User experiences, even if the provider uses third party software, will be very different from provider to provider. Choice will empower the customer.

Second, analytics is now a vital part of the user experience. Infrastructure services require more calibration than ever before. Customers are optimizing speed and performance, scaling more closely with increasingly uneven traffic patterns and closely monitoring and even automating expenditure. The cloud is a big part of the equation and as more workloads move and hybridize with cloud there is going to be a growing need for good information that drives accurate and precise decision-making.

Third, analytics can help customers make informed decisions about the type of infrastructure service they want to run in. They are looking to evaluate a number of different outsourcing scenarios (and on-premise for that matter) – cloud, managed hosting, virtual servers, colocation and hybrid. Choosing amongst these choices is difficult and even overwhelming. It requires consideration of multiple variables. But analytics can break a lot of that down and allow some of those decisions to be made faster and more effectively with the right supporting data.

In short, analytics is going to drive the next wave of innovation in the cloud. It is relatively early in the game but things are starting to accelerate. We should fully expect to see more data and analytics being presented in customer portals and there will be a spin-off effect into value-added and managed services. Even new products will be built from analytics.
The availability of data and analytics should be a part of any working relationship a customer has with its hosting and cloud infrastructure provider. It can bring real competitive advantage.

About the Author

Philbert Shih
Founder and MD, Structure Research

Philbert Shih is the Founder and Managing Director of Structure Research, an independent research and consulting firm devoted to the hosting and cloud infrastructure services market. Philbert has covered the hosting infrastructure space for over a decade. Prior to founding Structure Research, Philbert was the first hosting analyst hired after Tier1 Research was sold to The 451 Group (2005) and spent six years as Senior Analyst for Hosting.

Happy Anniversary YouTube

At Peer 1 this weekend, we raised our glasses to celebrate the fact that YouTube is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Peer 1 Hosting was the first ever-hosting company YouTube used, all the way up until 2007, when their last server went off-line and moved over to Google's data centre as part of the USD $1.65 billion acquisition. During this time, YouTube literally exploded to become a vital part of most of the world’s consumption and expression of information.
YouTube has done everything and more than it ever dreamed of. It has made stars out of finger-bighting children, become the source for consumer tech reviews and has won the Peabody award for promoting democracy. Apparently over 300 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute. 
Industries such as marketing, broadcasting, journalism, music publishing and politics all have been and continue to be transformed by this platform. Others have come after it but to date none of them come close to having the same impact as YouTube.
When businesses experience exponential growth the pressure on those inside the business can be enormous. There is often no room for compromise and yet millions of reasons why decision making itself might be compromised.
Opportunities need to be evaluated and decisions need to be made at a pace, partners need to be agile and trusted. It is easy to be blindsided. Whilst businesses like YouTube are rare, Peer 1 has established an outstanding track record of supporting those who find themselves in a growth hurricane. Other brands we work with who are currently in this mode include Wordpress and Shazam
Saying goodbye to YouTube as a client was bittersweet, but we remain incredibly proud of the fact that Peer 1 was part of YouTube’s journey at a time when the business was at such a critical stage. You can see our send off to YouTube here.

About the Author

Scott Davis
VP, Customer Experience

For Scott, attitude is everything. It can be the difference between success and failure—between a happy customer and an unsatisfied one. The latter is not acceptable, and it’s Scott’s motto, how can I make your day, that drives the customer experience team at Peer 1 Hosting.

Scott believes in our vision of being the most human experience on the web, and that if you’re going to talk the talk of customer experience, you need to walk the walk. You need to respond to your customers’ issues quickly and with sincerity. You also need to realize that you’re not just there to fix a problem—you’re there to anticipate their future needs and remove potential roadblocks for them. Scott wants our customers to be able to focus on the possibilities of the Internet, not the problems. That’s the kind of thinking you want in a Vice President of Customer Experience.

Scott brings more than 25 years of global customer service experience to his role at Peer 1. He is responsible for leading a team of more than 100 front-line employees, ensuring the delivery of an exceptional experience to all our customers. Prior to joining Peer 1, Scott developed his art in customer service at companies both large and small, including AT&T, LexisNexis, TMP Worldwide and Sykes Enterprises.

It’s because of Scott’s experience, and his infectious positivity, that there is an entire team at Peer 1 asking: "How can I make your day?"


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The True Value of Service

Customers are the most important element of every business. From the restaurant industry to the technology sector, providing exceptional customer service is vital for encouraging repeat business and loyalty.

It’s no different in the hosting industry, where providers play a vital role in growing a customer’s business. Whether they are looking to expand into new markets or offering advice on how to handle season peaks, service is not only one of the key points of differentiation, it often tops IT professionals’ priorities – even over price.

Speaking of price, there’s a war going on in our industry, with vendors battling to provide low-cost hosting solutions. Despite this, a recent Peer 1 survey revealed that 90 percent of IT professionals are unwilling to compromise on customer service, even if it meant paying higher prices.

The web hosting industry, along with the whole technology sector, is evolving. While there’s a place for low-cost hosting for first timers, non-critical elements, and for those with only one or two servers, there are areas where IT professionals are not willing to compromise.

For those businesses looking to grow and expand their online offering, service is an essential part of the decision criteria, and it’s not affected by price. In turn, hosting is a competitive industry, and while many providers are focused on cost, we choose to differentiate ourselves by helping our customers get where they want to be.

No one’s perfect, though, so we often ask our customers: ‘What can we do better?’ and ‘Tell me where we’re falling short of your expectations?’ They often don’t expect us to ask these questions, but their answers are always honest. The feedback doesn’t serve to strengthen just that one relationship-- it’s applied across our business in an effort to constantly improve on customer experience.

I discovered one particular success story when I recently visited a customer, a well-known, high-end retailer. On the Director’s desk, I found our support manual in pride of place. It turns out the Director uses Peer 1’s support processes as a guide of best practice when entering any new vendor agreement. That’s a great example of a partnership built on the quality of service and support.

At Peer 1, we are constantly evolving as an organization, growing not because of sales, but service, aiming to constantly exceed expectations. The alignment of our business is a factor dictated by our customers and what’s right for their business, now and in the future. Adding value in this way is a long-term process, but it’s priceless.

To find out more about where IT professionals are unwilling to compromise, read the full survey results here.

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