Archive for August, 2006

Not so great the last couple of months….

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

When things are good they are great and when they are bad they are REALLY bad. The last 2 months we have been REALLY bad. I know many potential clients read this blog, but I have to be honest with our existing clients that we have been less than great the last 2 months and the problems lie squarely on my shoulders.

Today we had downtime off and on from around 10am-3pm. It was our garbage heap we call a router that did it to us again. We have had a list of things go wrong in trying to get our new router up and going. We have the new router in our datacenter but the fan tray is not the highspeed fan tray we needed and so it is holding us back. We won’t be able to put our new router into production until Friday night at around midnight. It was supposed to be up and running this Monday but evidently next day air means 4 days later to some people.

Here is the short list of majors problems that we have had to deal with in the last 2 months and what we are doing about these problems.

Problem – Major linux kernels problems with Redhat Enterprise 4. This affected about 40 servers. Solution – Finally built our own custom kernel that solved our multitude of issues.

Problem – Two seperate power outages that affected about half of our users. Solution – So far have moved about 80% of our users to a facility that has enough UPS and generators to alleviate the problem. We are signing a lease next week on a 5000 ft data center that will allow us to grow as well as provide colocation services for many businesses. The whole move will take around 45 days to complete.

Problem – Multiple outages affecting all our users. Slow connection speeds and dropped packets. – Solution – A new cisco 6509 router with a sup720-3bxl card to solve our routing issues. This is 95% of the problems that Bluehost has been experiencing. We have been trying to solve the router problem for a couple of months. I think we finally have a handle on this hairy problem!

Problem – APF firewall system running on all users boxes. This firewall software has been randomly blocking data ports for users across all our systems. There was no rhyme or reason to why this was happening and thus very difficult to resolve. Solution – Finally gave up on APF. It is about the worst software I have ever used. We have installed a new software solution on a dozen servers and have been testing it. It seems to have completely fixed our issues. It is being rolled out to all servers on Monday.
All of these issues have made Bluehost’s reliability in the last 2 months completely unacceptable. As you can see from above we know of the issues and have been working nonstop the last several weeks to get things back to how they should be. Thanks for those that have been patient. For those that haven’t been so patient I don’t blame you one bit! We will have things back to normal in a few days.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Entrepreneurs are born not made…

Saturday, August 5th, 2006

The title of this blog entry says it all. Entrepreneurs are a different sort of person. They always believe they can do it better (Even if it isn’t always true). My personal experience tells me that about 5-10% of the people I meet qualify as the “entrepreneur type”. These are the people that stand in the line at the bank or at McDonalds and look at inefficiencies and say to themselves, “I can do this better!”.

The world needs these type of people. They are the ones who drive innovation and efficiency in pricing models. Some are good, and some are great, but I appreciate anyones willingness to go out on a limb to do business when the outcome is not guaranteed. One thing I have learned about these people is that they have ALWAYS been the way they are now. What do I mean? Entrepreneurs have a personality that allows them to believe and take risks and enjoy the process that other people find distasteful. If you are a person that loves to have work end at 5pm and then turn work off until the next day being an entrepreneur isn’t for you :)

I left work a few hours early today to go home and set up a lemonade stand with my kids at a park corner a block from my house. I left my wife with newborn Marissa at home and left with my four boys (twins that are 3, a 6 year old, and an 8 year old) to set up the stand. My kids had a mission to earn money to go to the “nickelcade”, a local arcade. They could only spend what they earned selling lemonade. In 1 hour and 20 minutes they had earned $23.11. Not too shabby!! What was amazing to me is that Luke and Zane (The 3 year old identical twins) outsold the others by a long shot. They knew what they wanted and they went after it. The other kids did great too, but it was obvious to me who was motivated. Even at an early age the signs are clearly visible.

Think about what you did in High School to earn money? The average kid goes out and gets a job and I was no exception, but I did MANY other things on the side. See if you can tell the difference between my personality and others you know. 1) Built a “zapper” in digital electronics class and gave people $10 if they could hold onto it for 10 seconds (I charged 50 cents per try). I did this at lunch for 3 months and earned over $200. 2) I built “blitz cables” for a local Atari dealer in my hometown. It allowed people to copy “protected” disks on the Atari ST. The store had to buy them for $60, so I built my own and sold them about 40 of them at $45 (At a cost of about $9 each and 1 hour of my time). 3) Wrote an upload/download Zmodem system for a BBS in GFA (Too long to explain). I made about $2000 doing this and it was really fun. 4) My senior year I sold a lot of IBM Brand computer parts and memory to a local educational institution. I didn’t want them to know it was just me, so I told them I was the delivery boy when I brought the parts over. I made about $1500 a month for about 6 months.

Notice a pattern? None of those things required me to work for someone else. At the time I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur I simply wanted to make the most I could doing what I liked to do at the time. My attitude hasn’t changed since then and it probably never will. Entrepreneurs are born not made…

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com

Competition!!

Friday, August 4th, 2006

Things are going very well at Bluehost right now. I have this burning in me to get things moving along. I can’t really explain it, but I get this insatiable desire to do 6 months worth of work in 30 days. It only happens a couple of times a year, but when it does look out! Competition is heating up in the hosting world, and we are going to respond in a big way with features, price, and great support.

Nobody likes to lose, but I hate it more than anybody I know. In fact I won’t allow my company to lose. I won’t lose market share, I won’t lose to the competition. When the competition pushes me, they are only tightening the noose around their own neck. I know that sounds bad if you don’t know me :) but my personality won’t allow me to just let things go. I have to respond, and respond in a successful business manner.

There has never been more activity and goings-on at Bluehost since day 1. We are actively working on things that should make the competition worry (With good reason). Why am I telling you this? The reason I am telling you this is because when competition heats up the consumer wins (Thats you!).

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / CEO Bluehost.com

To be good or to be great…

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

It never ceases to amaze me how companies can run the race 95% of the way and then stop running completely. Let me explain what I mean. To get a company off the ground, any company, takes a lot of work and determination. Anyone who has a successful company knows that the first 12-24 months is by far the hardest (And the most fun :) ). What I don’t understand is that when they finally have it going they seem to stop. Maybe my mindset is just different than others. It is glaringly obvious to anyone who knows me well that I think differently than most people around me. I just don’t see things the same as others I guess. Lets take the hosting industry as an example.

Web hosting company A starts up. They spend a ton of time working on the technical backend, customer relationship center, great marketing, and good support. This is great! The company is well on its way and then – nothing. Thats it. It stays the same. I don’t understand it!??! There are SO MANY companies like this.

Sometimes customers don’t really get to see what we are working on in the dim corners of the offices here at bluehost, and so I want to shed a little light on what we see as our future. Our future is dynamic. We see it changing all the time (Hopefully for the better). We are working diligently on our pagewizard product (Our site builder – Actually its mine and not really part of Bluehost). It needs work, but we are determined to make it the best “real” builder out there on the web. We are now actively working on VPS (Virtual private servers). We are Icann accredited, which means we are going to be in the domain business soon in a very real way
VERY soon (As in just a few weeks). We are considering building our own highend data center (Still just considering). We are determined in the next month or so to get our average hold time to less than 20 seconds (Yes really!). We are also implementing a plan that will happen sooner than later that will have all level 1 and level 2 tickets answered in less than 10 minutes.

If your average hold time is 3 minutes, and your average ticket response time is less than 1 hour you have run 90% of the race right? Why do so many companies stop there. You have a real chance to shine and show your customers that you really do care. Don’t stop at 90%. Invest that extra 10% that doesn’t cost that much and makes you head and shoulders above the competition. In business the race never ends so never stop running. The moment you do your company goes down the path to irrelevance.

Thanks,

Matt Heaton / President Bluehost.com