Archive for February, 2006

Responses to windows hosting…

Monday, February 27th, 2006

I am glad to see many users responding to our proposed plan of possibly implementing windows hosting. Thanks for your comments.

Let me make one thing VERY clear. If we do windows hosting it will probably be more expensive than linux, but the windows hosting platform will survive on its own. Meaning the linux hosting will in no way subsidize the windows hosting. Windows hosting MUST be profitable on it own. So for those worrying about price increases or service levels dropping, please don’t. Everything will remain just as it is including pricing.

Thanks again for your comments,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Windows hosting (Or not???)

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Bluehost is a 100% linux shop. EVERYTHING we run is on linux and we love it. I think it is infinitely more stable and less expensive to maintain that windows. Even though 95% of our users run Windows in one form or another, many don’t know that Linux is what powers their website (Even their frontpage extensions).
I am not one of those “windows haters”. I choose linux because I believe it is technically superior to windows, not because of philosophical reasons. That being said, there are products out there that people need to host on their sites that are windows specific. Some of these include .Net support, ASP Support, Cold Fusion, SQL Server (Microsoft only product), etc. Although there are various degrees of success with making some of these products work on Linux, they are half baked in my opinion. To truely support these products you HAVE to use windows as the host operating system.

SO, the question is do we want to do windows hosting or not? The answer is… Drumroll… MAYBE. There are many things to consider when doing windows hosting. First, I think the web hosting control panels available for windows are weaker than what we currently offer at bluehost. Second, the cost for hosting on windows is more than linux because we have to pay for Databases, the Windows 2003 server operating system, and other propriety (Read NON FREE) software.

Microsoft has determined that we are now a top 50 hosting company in the world. They have also noticed that we host zero sites on the windows platform. Microsoft KNOWS that the hosting companies are going to drive a huge segment of users to the OS that they host their site on. Let me explain… If a user hosts with us on Linux and see that we offer PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby of Rails as programming languages then they will probably choose one of those to develop in. The problem is Microsoft doesn’t own any of those, and so loses control of the customer at that point. They aren’t stupid! Call Microsoft what you want, but they know how to aquire customers, and how to compete in the marketplace.

So, Microsoft has decided to “help us along” to get windows hosting up and going. I will leave the details out on my blog, but lets just say they have decided to be very aggressive and generous to us if we decide to do windows hosting. That is fine and dandy, but I ALWAYS put the customer first. If we do windows hosting it will be because we are offering a product that a segment of our customers want. It won’t be because Microsoft bribed me to do it.

If we do get windows hosting up and going, and it proves to be a superior product then we will of course push it aggressively for our customers. Those are two GIANT IFS in my opinion. Regardless, we are considering adding windows hosting to our already successful hosting services. If you have comments or would be interested in windows specific hosting I would like to hear your opinions. Bluehost’s customers are what matter, and I would be doing this for you when it is all said and done.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Registrar in the works…

Monday, February 20th, 2006

I probably shouldn’t be writing about this now since it is still many months away, but we are in the process of becoming Icann certified to become an official domain registrar. What does this mean? We currently sell domain names and give them away as part of our hosting packages, but we are simply a reseller for someone else (For the domain name portion only).

If we are a reseller, then why would we go through all the trouble of becoming a registrar (And it IS considerable effort to do so). One simple reason, SUPPORT! The company (Which will go unnamed, but is the largest domain registrar in the world) offers extraordinarily poor support. It reflects poorly on us and makes us look as if we can’t do our job. We can’t go back to our customer if there are problems and say “Sorry, it isn’t our fault, it’s theirs!”.

We plan on becoming one of the largest domain sellers on the internet! It will benefit bluehost, but most of all it will benefit the customer. We will then have control of the entire customer experience, and can provide the best support we can all along the way.

In a business that is notorious for extremely poor support, the domain business, we want to be a shining star. We want to provide excellent pricing, excellent support, and excellent compliementary business services. We are working hand in hand with some of the best development talent around to produce a superior product.

Although this is still months away, I wanted to share my excitement for this project and to let all you out there know that we are constantly on the move. As always you reach me directly at matt@bluehost.com if you have comments or suggestions.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Outsourcing support… (NEVER!!!)

Friday, February 17th, 2006

The trend with many hosting companies now is to outsource support, and in some cases to outsource server administration. I could not disagree more with this attitude. Still other hosting companies will employ people in other countries because of time zone issues to offer 24/7 support. Again, I totally disagree with this type of support.

How can you offer realtime support for something as critical and as complex web hosting if you are not right there to deal with the problem? You HAVE TO be there to know all the little issues that are going on. Direct communication between our developers, administrators, and our support engineers is what facilitates quality support. Most hosting companies can’t/won’t allow their customers to get direct access to administrators to resolve issues. We allow (through our support engineers) to have issues looked at right away when some problems occurs with our customers accounts. This is invaluable, and customers should be able to get this type of support.

Companies that choose to oursource something as critical as technical support and sales clearly falls into one of two categories. A – They are financially strapped and have to do this to remain profitable and operate their business or B – They simply don’t care about their customers, and will sacrifice the customer experience for a few bucks. We are neither!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Attacks and outages…

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

Well as we grow Bluehost.com bigger and bigger we become more of a target for malicious people out there. We have literally hundreds of attacks per day on our system. When I say attacks I mean, denial of service attacks, password hacking bots, etc.

Many web hosting companies experience severe downtime due to these type of attacks. We are no exception, except that we are taking measures to eliminate this problem. The cost of eliminating these attacks on our type of network range from around $15,000 per year up to $60,000 per year. Many hosts simply accept the attacks as a fact of life.

We will no longer gamble with our network and hope that attacks don’t happen. We have implemented some high tech measures to virtually eliminate denial of service attacks and other outage causing worms. We are in testing mode now, and should turn these functions on live by the end of the week. We hope this will ensure a higher level of integrity for our network. I am ALWAYS open to any suggestions to improve bluehost, so let me have it with features you would like to see!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Its all about the service…

Monday, February 13th, 2006

If theres one thing I have learned since starting bluehost, its that customer service is EVERYTHING! Although it is simply to understand, it is very difficult to implement perfectly. We can never satisfy everyone, but we do our best to exceed expectations.

It is expensive to give proper customer service, and so I know most web hosting companies won’t compete with us. Its simple really. If I wouldn’t like it myself then I don’t make our customers go through it either. When I have to call into the company I wait just like any other customer. I want to see how long I am on hold. If it exceeds 120 seconds then we failed and its time to hire more support engineers. Last Monday we took over 1100 phone calls! That is a LOT! Our average hold time that day was less than 90 seconds. We aren’t perfect, but we are getting there. At first my attitude was that I would rather the company make a lot less $$ now, so that we can compete effectively in the long run as far as customer service is concerned. Now I KNOW the reason we are successful is because of customer service!

You can count on us getting better and better. I am entirely focused on making Bluehost the premiere hosting company for features and service. Please stick with us on this journey. I want you to keep being “pleasantly surprised”.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

New people, new features…

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

Well, very soon we will be adding a new senior programmer to the staff (Scott), and another system administrator. I believe with the addition of these two people that we will now be at 50 people working at bluehost. Two years ago there were 3 of us, so its grown fast. I think with the growth has come increased stability. The thing I am most concerned about is that we can take care of all our customers “little needs” as we continue to grow. Right now when a customer needs something special, the support engineers have access to all the admins to get things done immediately. This is something we want to make sure stays with us as we grow. We see the ability to have harder problems solved quickly as one of the primary reasons for our growth.

With the new additions to the company we plan on adding many new features. We announced Ruby on Rails a few days ago, and it will go live “Officially” on Monday. We are working on a REAL spam blocking alternative for our clients, and we have the coolest new webmail product coming out in a couple of weeks. Basically, I am saying that we aren’t resting on our laurels. We want to make the bluehost experience the best we can!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Problems help us grow!

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Well, there was an outage today from doing a “very minor” router upgrade. It ended up being almost 45 minutes. That is the most catastrophic outage we have experienced to date. I apologize to all the users out there. Those that have been with us for a while know this is very rare, but it still inexcusable. The fault lies with me. This has helped us to further iron out areas where trouble can get into our network. We will take our licks and learn from it. Your future uptime will be better I PROMISE!

On a lighter note, those wanting Ruby on Rails will get it on all our servers come Monday. That is the roll out date!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.com

Features on the way!!!

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Wow, the comments have been amazing! I am getting a little embarressed by all the compliments. We also received many requests for features and improvements. Let me assure you that these comments do not fall on deaf ears. One of the most requested features is “Ruby on Rails”. Ruby is a programming language similiar to Perl or Python. It is amazing really in the some aspects. The “Rails” portion of Ruby on Rails is a cool framework of tools to help write better web applications. It didn’t take long to get this feature going. We should have done it sooner. We currently have it running on a couple of servers. We will be rolling this live to all servers on Monday of next week. At that time we will send a message to everyone letting them know to give it a try if they wish.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Wow! What a response! (Whats new at bluehost!)

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

Well, it hasn’t even been 24 hours since I emailed everyone about the blog, and I already have 230 comments! Not too shabby! Many have asked what our plans are in the future, and what we can further do to increase customer service at bluehost. I would like to address those topics with this post.

The future at bluehost looks great! We are now in the top 10 fastest growing hosting companies in the world. The thing we want to strive for the most in the future is to make our EXISTING customers so happy that they would never consider hosting anywhere else. While I think we are doing reasonably well on the service side, there is still MUCH that can done to improve things. Let me get to some specifics that will happen in the future here at bluehost. First, we are experimenting will ULTRA fast MySQL database storage capabilities to add to our servers. My background is in computer hardware, and because of that we will ALWAYS build our own servers instead of buying prebuilt Dell/HP, etc type servers. The main slow down with servers is MySQL/Database related. With this new implementation the SLOWEST response times we have had are 10x faster than our current server setup. We have even experienced speedups in our tests of up to 50x faster. We have also moved to quad processor machines instead of the standard dual processor xeons that you see with almost every other host. The MySQL support (Super fast support) should be online starting around March 15th.

On the service side of things we have always been a Mon-Sat 6AM-10PM Mountain time shop. This is about to change! Starting tomorrow night we will be 24×6 (Mon-Sat) 24 hours a day, and on March 1st we are planning on going 24×7 support except new years and Christmas. We simply have too many customers worldwide to not have 24×7 support. This is something people have been asking for! We are now prepared to make it happen. I know this has been an issue for many in the past, and I am very sorry for the delay. We are training the new weekend personnel now, and they should be ready and willing in the next few days!

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / Bluehost.c om