Interview with Stephen Holford, Chief Marketing Officer of Fasthosts at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference
Interview with Stephen Holford, Chief Marketing Officer of Fasthosts
Where: Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference
When: July 11, 2011
Can you tell us a little about Fasthosts?
Fasthosts is a UK hosting company. It’s very successful and actually UK’s largest web-hosting company. We deliver web-hosting services to the SMB market such as hosing, domains, email, dedicated virtual servers, and basically try to operate quite a few of the IT services that small to medium sized businesses need.
I understand you also work for and with RISE. What’s the difference between Fasthosts and RISE?
RISE is our cloud computing service offered through IT resellers, value-added resellers, system integrators, managed service providers, to offer cloud computing solutions to the SMB marketplace.
Focusing on Fasthosts, what are its service offerings and what were its first service offerings?
It all revolved around starting with shared web-hosting, back in 1999. It was essentially about getting businesses and individuals to have a website and get them online by giving them an easy way to get a website up on the Internet and allow them to have a presence there. From that, it grew on to providing lots of different services for small to medium sized businesses, but it all started from that one real idea of getting people online and allowing them to have a presence on the Internet.
Where do you see your present position on the UK market?
We are the UK’s largest web-hosting provider at the moment, so we offer the most services to our businesses in the SMB marketplace in the UK. We’ve built up a really good base of small to medium sized business customers throughout the UK, taking everything from simple domain names right through to other services that allow them to offer applications and hosted services for their customers.
In regards to backup services, when and why did Fasthosts start offering backup solutions?
Backup solutions were one of the big gaps we had in our portfolio. We’ve got a wide range of IT-based services, web-based services especially, but we finally went back to our customers and said, “Hang on a second, we have a whole load of storage in our data centers, in our UK data centers where we host, and you guys have a lot of information on-premise so you guys need to make sure its secure,” so offering online backup was a really, really good fit for our current service offering and our customer types.
Fasthosts seems to offer a lot of specialized solutions for resellers. Can you explain its business model and distribution model?
Fasthosts has around 6,000 resellers in the UK market. It’s one of the key aspects of our fast growth in the UK. By enabling all of our services to be white labeled, to be resold under our reseller’s brand name, they have taken a lot of our services to market, and reach customers that Fasthosts traditionally couldn’t, and by engaging those resellers and giving them the power to sell all these services, we can outreach the UK market a lot better.
What countries specifically do you focus on? You mentioned UK-based, but are there any specific countries besides there that you specialize in?
With Fasthosts, about 95% of its customers come from the UK and then we get about 5% customers that come from other European countries mainly, and we do get a few other ones outside. We do have a small U.S. offering as well, which has some good customers, but it’s a very small operation. RISE, our IT cloud services that goes through partners, has UK and U.S. operations though.
Approximately how many customers does Fasthosts have?
Fastshosts has about 400,000 customers, and we operate around one million websites, so it’s a very large service, and it’s doing really well.
How do you expect the SaaS (software-as-a-service) market to develop within the next few years?
Software-as-a-service and cloud computing generally is a massive step forward for the SMB marketplace. It enables them to free up a lot of cache, as well as a lot of tools and flexibility that they can incorporate into their business model. With software-as-a service getting bigger and the customer base understanding it better, we expect it to grow significantly over the next few years, and thankfully Fasthosts is really well placed to take advantage of that growth in that market.
What role does data protection play in this context, as a service, as well as to measure customers’ data protection?
It’s absolutely key. Businesses, especially small to medium sized businesses, are trying to make sure they’re operating a very efficient cash flow business. They’re trying to make sure they get the best bang for their buck from all of their IT services, but they’ve also got to make sure they’re protected from every type of threat, be it an actual disaster or an IT disaster, and that data, customer data especially, has to be protected. Previously, they’ve done that on-premise. They backed up to tapes and put those tapes in a safe, but if they lost their building, that data is also lost. Now, with NovaStor’s online backup product, we can offer all our SMB customers a really simple way of backing up all their data to our data centers so they can have a copy locally, a copy held securely in our data centers, and their business is protected no matter what happens to it.
What made Fasthosts choose NovaStor, and how did NovaStor’s backup platform fit within your strategy?
We recognized we needed a customer data protection solution as a key service, but what’s very important for Fasthosts, is because of our large customer base, we need to operate simplistic services is that are very intuitive and very easy to use. That’s one of the things that really made us choose NovaStor as our solution provider. We have a wide range of customers with different technical skill sets, and it’s very important that the backup service we offer is simple to use, very effective and makes it so that our customers don’t need to worry about it. They don’t want to phone us for support, and we don’t need support calls from hundreds of thousands of customers. We need a service that is very simple to use, and works very, very well. From all the trials we did and all the competitor analysis we did, NovaStor came out on top.
What do you like about NovaStor as a business partner?
In addition to the software being great, NovaStor is a business partner that works really well with us and also really understands our needs. Because of our reseller model, we have to make sure we don’t just offer a Fashosts version product, but also a white label version as well so our resellers can sell the NovaStor product under their own brand. NovaStor understood our needs, and they worked really closely with us and helped us make sure that we had a product that we could take to market for our direct customer base and our reseller customers very quickly and very easily. That’s where NovaStor really pulled through for us.
Links for Additional Information
Download the Fasthosts Case Study from NovaStor
Video Interview with Stephen Holford, Chief Marketing Officer of Fasthosts
Fasthosts’ online backup service based on NovaBACKUP xSP
Information about NovaBACKUP xSP