Things go awry often for web hosting providers. Server crashes, down times, security issues, network problems are frequent, and there is only so much a provider can do to preempt such issues. With so many things potentially going astray, irate customers are rife, and things can get nasty behind keyboards easily. If not proactively handled, such instances can irreversibly damage a company’s reputation.
Media Temple (mt) is one organization that handles such mishaps with great aplomb. One of the rare web-hosting providers that can boast of a passionate fan following, Media Temple stands out from the crowd with its top-shelf customer support.
With its product lineup comprehensive and broad enough to appeal from a web designer to an enterprise, Media Temple has really grown by word of mouth to establish itself as a forward thinking and customer-focused organization.
In light of the recently launched DV Managed and CloudTech Premium Support at HostingCon 2013, we had a conversation with Russell P Reeder, President and COO, (mt) Media Temple. Read away as he talks about Media Temple’s work culture, new products and services, the much known Grid-service, team (mt), and of course, the future plans.
Q: Let’s begin with a brief overview of Media Temple.
A: Media Temple focuses on the SMB Cloud Hosting market, especially the more tech savvy segment of it, for instance web designers and web developers, who’re the key influencers in the online industry.
We have over 125,000 customers hosting almost 2 million websites in over 100 countries. At Media Temple, we’ve always differentiated our services on premium technical support. We’ve got almost 100 system administrators here in Los Angeles for 24×7 technical support that help our customers via phone, online chat, twitter and various other support channels.
Q: Since you speak of support, I personally am a big fan of how Media Temple uses social media not only to respond to its customers’ needs (via Twitter and Facebook), but also to invite them inside its offices and project its human side (via Instagram). What is your philosophy behind using social media?
A: Yes, thank you. I think it comes from our culture. We have a very transparent, open culture and care about people, our employees and customers.
Social media is just another channel for us to communicate and we don’t go there to market our services, but to expand this culture of ours where we really put our customers first.
We think that in order to hire and retain the best employees, a company has to create a fun atmosphere, and we are very proud that we’ve been able to do so. We have a great culture, it’s almost like a college dorm atmosphere where people come to work and have a lot of fun.
– Russell P Reeder, President and COO, (mt) Media Temple.
Q: What are some of the key features that set the recently launched DV Managed apart from other managed VPS platforms out there? What additional value can SMBs expect to derive from it?
A: First of all, we have 3 different levels of our VPS platform. We have full managed platforms with root access enabled, one click application installs, managed uptime, security, 24X7 access to support etc.
We have our VPS developer if you are a Linux ninja and just want to go right to the command line and have at it. It’s still managed because we manage everything from the electricity own up to the Ubuntu and all the different versions, but you handle everything that you install on it. So it’s a little bit less managed.
And then we have DV Enterprise Dedicated VPS Hosting, formerly known as (dpv) Nitro, for the more heavy lifting, and that starts at 2000$ a month.
So as an old software developer, I would say that the one feature that I’m most excited about is the re-bootless updates for future proofing our solutions. We will never leave behind our customers on an old version and launch a new version. This is the version that will have re-bootless updates as we continue to innovate on our technology in the future. That is exciting.
We also have all leading edge technology for the latest 2013 hardware specs. The software that we now have running our full DV Managed, DV Developer and DV Enterprise platform, is 25 times faster than our older versions, which allows you to do the backups, recoveries and run your applications faster on our platform.
Q: How do DV Developer and DV Enterprise complement your entire DV lineup?
A: If you don’t need a control panel and you just want to go right into a VPS server, we feel that DV Developer is the most up-to-date VPS platform that you can go for. It starts at 30$ a month and you can take that all the way up to 2500$ a month.
But if you want the DV Developer on your own dedicated box, you can have your own DV Enterprise with 64GB Fully Buffered DDR3 RAM from 2000$ a month.
Q: Where are your data centres located?
A: We have invested a tremendous amount into our infrastructure. We have two core Tier IV data centres located in Virginia and Los Angeles, with multiple redundancy throughout the system, 24×7 staffed teams, tens of thousands of servers and a great capacity to scale.
Q: What are some of the significant improvements and upgrades in the newly launched CloudTech Premium support? Also, what are various one-time services that CloudTech On-Demand provides?
A: We at Media Temple have always differentiated on our technical support and we will continue to do so.
We did eight months of due diligence on when we had to scope out customers and say ‘No sorry! That’s out of scope’, and looked at what we could automate in the back-end to say yes to these customers.
So with CloudTech premium, we can provide a lot of extra support. We have taken our technical system administrators and our Red Hat certified engineers and opened them up for our customers. We can do the installation of your apps for you, monitor your system 24X7 so you don’t have to, handle traffic spikes, do performance analysis of your database, website and your WordPress.
Our customers can access our CloudTech services in two ways. One is through an On-Demand service, where you can go to the website, log into your AccountCenter, choose from a menu of more than 20 on-demand services and put on what service you need at that specific time.
If you want to have a 24X7 premium support package with a dedicated team of IT experts, you can try Cloud Tech Always-On and pay for that in the subscription model as well.
Q: This one is regarding Media Temple’s Grid Hosting service. How does it handle traffic spikes better than other shared hosting services?
A: We are very proud of our Grid Technology. It is proprietary and it’s our secret sauce. It handles infinite scalability, from the MySQL to all the way through the entire infrastructure. And we figured out how to have this cloud scalability in a shared hosting environment six years back. So not only does our Grid Technology scale at the database level, it can immediately eliminate that noisy neighbour issue too.
Most of our customers are web designers and web developers that have hundreds of sites. With our one grid account, you can have anything from 1 website to 100 websites at just 20$ a month. And it is very scalable, so when you have an Oprah moment, you don’t have to call Media Temple and warn us. The system has scalability throughout the infrastructure and is constantly watching for the increased traffic, you wouldn’t even know when we move instances around to make sure that you are on the proper infrastructure to scale as needed.
We even allow customers to double-up, so if you have got your 15 minutes of fame and for one week you are just killing it, blowing the numbers out of the water, it’s very exciting to you and then it starts to go back down, in such cases you aren’t going to need to upgrade to a VPS, our grid containers can handle that increased traffic for you from a database level, from an application level all the way to the web server.
Q: And how does your charging system work during these traffic spikes? How do you charge for the additional bandwidth consumed?
A: We don’t charge for spikes on the grid. We have a grace period for customers that can spike up, but after several days of constant traffic, we would separate that container, move the customer over to a certain level of our infrastructure and then notify the customer via email and also a technical customer support representative would call them to figure out the reason for the increased traffic. Is it because of some changes you made to your site? Is it because your PHP is broken? Is something currently going wrong in your database? Or is it just that you’ve recently launched a new product and people around the world are coming to your website to see it?
So we have customized solutions for our customers to make sure that they’re using the right product with the Media Temple.
Q: Please throw some light on the (mt) Affiliate Program.
A: Sure! We have done very little marketing in the past. Media Temple has really grown into a strong brand that it is today through the word of mouth and the support of our customers.
So just recently we started to put a little bit of more muscle into our affiliate program to give back to people who have sent us new leads and new customers in the past.
We have two programs: One is the referral program for our existing customers, which credits their account when they send us new customers. Another one is the traditional affiliate program which has been getting much more traction lately. We compete on our brand, not just on how much we pay our affiliates.
Q: What is the Media Temple Corporate Culture? What is a typical day at your office like?
A: A typical day in our office is fun. We have a great culture, it’s almost like a college dorm atmosphere where people come to work and have a lot of fun. We think that in order to hire and retain the best employees, a company has to create a fun atmosphere, and we are very proud that we’ve been able to do so.
We have yoga, physical fitness training classes, happy hours, free breakfast on Mondays, free lunch every other Friday etc. We also have a very generous PTO policy for exempt and non-exempt employees, our maternity leaves are 3 months long, paternity leaves 1 month long, and every three years you can take a sabbatical which we call the (mt) refresh where you can take a paid one month off.
So we’re very proud of the fact that we take good care of our employees in the office.
Q: And how big is your team?
A: We have over 220 employees based primarily in Los Angeles and New York.
Q: Wrapping up, any big developments coming from the Media Temple is the coming few months?
A: We’ve been working on a number of products and additional services that will help the SMBs run their businesses better. At the back-end, we are planning to launch some very interesting cloud storage solutions beginning in the 2014 that will continue our tradition of innovation and giving back to our customers.