Products & Upgrades

Cloud Hosting, Branding, and Our New Flex Product

by Fritz Stolzenbach  • 

“Cloud hosting” used to be what companies called their services when they needed to impress investors. Now, it’s a term they use when what they really mean is “more virtualization.” Okay. I can live with that — there was a point when people finally stopped referring to scuba gear as a “self-contained, underwater breathing apparatus” as well. In a mixed-up world, I’ll always go to the mat for a little common sense in the way we talk to each other. But let’s be clear: in the hosting industry, “cloud” is still a vaguely understood buzz word — not a well-defined thing.

ServInt spent years being very picky about when you could actually call virtualized hosting “cloud.” Each year, some new vendor would roll out a new “cloud hosting” platform, and our engineers would scoff, in Crocodile Dundee fashion, (“Cloud?! That’s not a cloud!”) at the arrogance of it all. To us, cloud hosting meant radical, meaningful, and — most important — useful changes to the way customers operated their online businesses. By that standard, none of the new “cloud hosting” systems impressed us much.

Don’t get me wrong: there are lots of virtualized hosting platforms out there that make scaling easier, or billing less complicated — but it’s still a matter of tradeoffs between various hosting service deliverables. You want near-infinite scalability? You gotta have less management. You want the lowest possible monthly fees? You gotta live with crummier hardware.

Like everybody else, we live in a world of tradeoffs. But with Flex, ServInt approaches the problem in a better way: we put our actual customer requirements first.

That sounds like marketing blah-blah, but it’s not. Our customers require pro-active, fix-it-before-it-breaks management; reliable, high-performance hardware; and total vendor accountability. They appreciate the ability to rapidly set up, scale and tear down their servers. We provide both of these things in our Flex lines, in a rational, balanced fashion.

The truth is, we’ve been providing these capabilities, albeit in a less “cloudy” way, over the last few generations of VPS and Solo dedicated product. Today, we’re calling these products “Flex.” It’s a brand, it describes the increased flexibility of what we now offer, it sounds good. What matters is: what was good then is even better today. That’s what our customers care about.

Perhaps more importantly, today, we’re also finally calling ourselves a “cloud hosting company.” This development is a bit more important — but not because of any incomprehensibly innovative, impractically brilliant product we’re introducing. It’s important because the world has gotten to a point where they don’t understand what we do unless we call it “cloud.” Fair enough. Our engineers may moan about the vagueness of the term, but there it is. By today’s definition, we’re a cloud hosting company. Welcome to the cloud. Welcome to Flex.

Fritz Stolzenbach is ServInt’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development.
Photo by Patrick Hoesly
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  25. Brant, I don't use this term unless I really do LOL, but: LOL! If you knew how many heated discussions I've had with members of the social media cult over the years... Anyhow, to the topic at hand: yes, any kind of automatic horizontal app scaling would be pretty cool. That's one of many flavors of cloud out there; for us, with a widely varied client base that runs literally thousands of apps at any one time, "vertical" scaling seems to meet our customers' needs better. Thanks for your thoughts, FS
  26. "To us, cloud hosting meant radical, meaningful, and — most important — useful changes to the way customers operated their online businesses. By that standard, none of the new “cloud hosting” systems impressed us much." That's a pretty harsh statement as there are some pretty cool offerings out there. When I think "cloud" I picture an architecture in which the load balancer will automatically add another apache node to the mix and then automatically remove it when its not necessary. I can understand your saltiness to the whole "cloud" movement and misconceptions of it. It's the same way I feel toward "social media".
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Fritz Stolzenbach

Fritz Stolzenbach

Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, ServInt

For the last 25 years, Fritz Stolzenbach has led marketing and corporate communications efforts at a wide range of Internet, telecom, entertainment and utility industry enterprises.

In the mid-1990s, Stolzenbach helped build the largest U.S. distribution network for satellite television provider DIRECTV. He then joined the management team that launched the HughesNet satellite internet platform, as well as Spacenet’s Connexstar wide area networking service. By the mid-2000s, Stolzenbach was Global Director of Marketing for the world’s largest satellite fleet operator, Intelsat Ltd. From 2006 until 2010, Stolzenbach was co-owner and CMO of his own multimedia production company, Asparagus Media Inc.

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