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Web Host Interview with Carl Meadows at The Planet

February 05
13:12 2009

What is your name and position with The Planet?
Carl Meadows, Senior Manager, Product Marketing

What do you offer your customers that are unique to your company?
Our primary differentiator is the customer-centric nature of The Planet. We have built our company and product portfolio to provide customers with a wide range of options that help them design the best hosting solution for their businesses. We have experts on staff who will work with customers to identify the right IT solution, whether it’s colocation, dedicated servers, managed dedicated servers or fully managed hosting.

What is the most challenging aspect to offering Web Hosting?
As a provider of comprehensive, world-class hosting solutions, The Planet is tasked with keeping pace with new technologies to ensure our product line is always ahead of the curve. We offer the latest server lines to our customers at competitive prices.

The Internet shift toward video-rich content creates increased demands on bandwidth capacity. To accommodate this change, we’ve increased our network capacity to 130 Gbps, offering one of the industry’s fastest, most robust networks.

What is it that makes The Planet a competitive company in the Web Hosting market?
The Planet’s primary strength is the quality of our hosting infrastructure. We provide the best infrastructure among hosting providers, which includes six SAS 70 Type II certified data centers that cover more than 165,000 square feet of raised floor space and house more than 56,000 servers, backed by our 130 Gbps Tier 1 network. In addition to our infrastructure, we employ the best and the brightest in the industry who provide our customers with unmatched support.

What new features have The Planet added for its customers in the past year?
Over the last year, we have made significant additions and enhancements to our management services portfolio. We launched Northstar Managed Hosting, a comprehensive, fully managed hosting solution. We also introduced Alpha Professional Managed Dedicated Servers, a business-class service that provides first-call resolution and a one-hour hardware replacement SLA. For dedicated hosting customers, Alpha Advanced Services are also available on an a la carte basis, including server backup, monitoring, security and administration, and managed backup.

In 2008 we also announced new products and technology. Among these are The Planet Storage Cloud, through our Nirvanix partnership; Direct Attached Storage (DAS); and Content Delivery Network (CDN) capabilities through a partnership with EdgeCast. We launched the Bargain Bin, a real-time server “outlet” that features overstocked and clearance dedicated servers.

What would you say is The Planet #1 asset to its customer base?
For our customers, the biggest asset is the talent of the people we employ. The Planet has more than 160 certified systems engineers on staff, a fully CCNA-certified Network Operations Center (NOC), and Microsoft- and RedHat-certified support staff. While the company is powered by our external automation systems, it’s our people that make The Planet a success.

Where do you see The Planet and the web hosting industry in three years?
In three years, the only entities building data centers will be those who do so as a business – as data center providers. As a result, most companies – and especially small businesses – will outsource the hosting of their server-class hardware to professionals. We expect to see consistent and significant growth across the hosting industry, and to participate in that growth here at The Planet.

How many customers do you currently have?
The Planet has more than 20,000 customers worldwide, 42 percent of which are international.

Who are some of your famous clients?
Do not disclose

Do you own your own datacenter?
The Planet owns six data centers. We recently announced plans for our seventh data center, a new 86,000 square foot facility that’s currently under construction and due to open in May.

Where are they located?
Four are in Dallas and two are in Houston. The seventh data center will be located in Dallas.

What kind of back up power do you have?
We have invested heavily in UPS systems for our data centers, which enables The Planet to offer up to a 100 percent SLA. These systems are further backed by diesel generators that cycle on automatically in the event of a power disruption from a municipal supplier.

Our infrastructure is built out with N+1 capacity. This means if there were concurrent failures of multiple systems, we would still be backed by an additional system to support our data centers. To protect our systems and to ensure they’re always in top-notch working order, we perform weekly generator tests on our environments.

Do you have multiple backbone connections?
We have seven connections to Tier 1 providers with over 130 Gbps of network capacity. We also have dedicated fiber connectivity between our six data centers in Houston and Dallas for increased redundancy. The Planet last year opened additional points of presence on the East and West coasts, which enhance our network performance and decrease latency, particularly for international customers, which comprise 42 percent of our business.

What connections do you have?
The Planet has 130 Gbps of aggregate network capacity provided by seven Tier 1 bandwidth providers, including AT&T, NTT, Savvis, Global Crossing, Time-Warner Telecom, AboveNet and Level 3.

Do you offer 24/7 support?
Indeed we do. Customers can contact our support teams 24/7/365 via phone, live chat, our support ticketing system or e-mail.

Do you have technicians present 24/7 or 9-5 M-F?
We operate around the clock 365 days a year. Technicians are on staff 24/7/365 in our NOC, call center and in each of our data centers.

What is your average turn-around time on a support ticket?
We answer 95 percent of our support phone calls in less than 20 seconds. For online support chat, our average speed of answer is 57 seconds. Of the more than 60,000 support tickets received in the fourth quarter of 2008, the median response time was 25 minutes.

Do you charge your clients for support? If so, please explain.
At no charge, customers receive 24x7x365 technical support, network-based security protection, and full hardware management with every dedicated server. They can supplement this support with our add-on Alpha Advanced Services. These services include server monitoring, security, administration and managed backup – all the way up to our Alpha Professional Services, which provide business-class support and a one-hour hardware SLA.

Through Northstar Managed Hosting, we offer a comprehensive managed hosting solution. Every customer has a dedicated team of certified engineers that become an extension of their in-house IT staff. This team provides complete management of their IT environment, backed by consultative, proactive support, 24×7.

Do you offer a money back guarantee?
All of The Planet’s servers include an SLA that provides up to 100 percent of a customer’s monthly bill if we do not maintain up to 100 percent network and power availability.

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