Interview with Amy of Lunarpages Web Hosting
Not too long I had the chance to talk to Amy Armitage of Lunarpages.com (http://www.lunarpages.com). Amy was willing to let me interview her and I threw quite heavy loaded questions at here. I guess there is a reason why Amy and Lunarpages are market leading in web hosting. The interview is giving a great insight into how Lunarpages operates and what makes them so special compared to other web hosting companies. But before I talk to much about this, here is the interview.
1) What made you work in the web hosting industry (money, technology, always compete, etc.)?
It was accidental really. I guess in about 1998 I wanted to learn how to build a site from my home in Australia so I searched for free web hosting and found Lunarpages. Signed up for my free account and started asking a LOT of questions on lunarforums.com. After a while I became a regular on the forums and developed my skill set, started helping other customers and the owner of Lunarpages Ron Riddle asked me to manage the forums. From there it evolved into working support on the help desk and around 18 months ago I moved to California to work in Business Development.
2) Lunarpages seems to be a very successful company in a highly competitive market. What separates you from your competitors and how are you (Lunarpages) staying ahead of the pack?
You have to look for the honesty and personal attention behind the fads and gimmicks. At Lunarpages, we pretty much shy away from gimmicks, because we know that’s not how you keep customers. Once you’re part of our customer base, you’re family, so we try to keep everything as personal as possible. We’ll chat with you via email or the phones, we make our Control Panel easy to use, and then we throw as many incredible tools at you as possible. But it is hard trying to figure out who’s bluffing and who has the resources to pull off the offers. Check out forum reviews, and if your host doesn’t have a forum, that’s already a problem.
3) If you would have to start over, would you still enter the web hosting industry? What would you do different?
Hmmmm.. that’s a loaded question. I think it depends on my day 😉 Mostly, I love web hosting, but lately it’s really challenging because this industry is SOOOOOO competitive. If I was starting over then Lunarpages would be my choice without question. I’ve never worked for such a professional, innovative and supportive CEO such as Ron Riddle. He makes the business fun for me and I’m very proud of the company we have all helped to create.
4) What advice can you give potential customers in regards to what to look for in a web hosting provider?
It can be really overwhelming when choosing a new host. I’d recommend coming up with a list of your requirements and budget and then start researching and narrow down your list to maybe 5 hosts you like.
Call them and ask a bunch of questions. Focus on some important factors such as:
Disc space requirements – Amount of space on a web server’s hard drive that you will need for your web site .i.e. size of your web site
Expected Traffic – How many visitors are you expecting? Will this be a high traffic website? Even though right now it isn’t, what if your sites get super busy. Does your host have upgrade options?
Multiple Sites – Can you run several unique sites on one hosting plan?
Databases, email, FTP accounts etc – What are the limits?
Considerations – The Techy Stuff
• Hardware (Do they own their own servers?)
• Security (Are they a couple of kids in their garage?)
• Location (What country are their servers in?)
• Backups (Are there daily backups? Is there a cost?)
• Redundancy (Multiple data centers?)
• Uptime (Check out their uptime stats)
• Download Speed
• Supported Scripting Languages (Do they support PHP5 or ASP/JSP – whatever your site is or could eventually be coded in?)
The Other Stuff
• Price (Money Back Guarantee)
• Support Options (Do they speak English and offer 24/7 support Inc phone support?)
• Value (What do you get for your money?)
• Uptime Guarantee & History – How long have they been in business? WHOIS them)
• Upgrade/Downgrade Options
• Overages (Are you charged for use you’re unaware of?)
• Control and Usability
Domain names – Free with hosting but do you own the domain? How much will it cost you to take ownership of the domain if you want to transfer out?
Hosting Price – Search for discount coupons, but be aware of the renewal fee when you don’t have a coupon for the 2nd year.
Accuracy of support – Test them with some hard questions
Review sites – Careful of the hype. Lots of them simply get paid top dollar to promote certain companies. Make sure you have a money back guarantee.
There are loads more but this should be a good starting point.
5) Web Hosting prices are at a (historic) low and can only be lowered so much before hitting zero. Where do you see the industry heading to? What is the future of web hosting?
I see the big companies burying the smaller companies with offers they cannot compete with. I hope to see the bandwidth and space allocations level out and become realistic again.
6) Lunarpages has a solid reputation when it comes to support? What are the "ingredients" to build a successful support team?
A phone system that can support a high volume of calls and customer growth
A helpdesk that’s fast, functional and simple and can handle a high level of tickets. We receive around 30k tickets per month.
Training, manuals, procedures, structure and audits of your staff! Keeping up to date with new technology and making sure your staff are aware of new offerings and hosting options/features.
Listening to your customers and talking to them in non techy terms so they can learn and understand from you.
7) Women are still a "minority" in the hosting industry. If you would be asked for advice about working in the hosting industry by a class of female college students – what would that advice be?
We have a strong female team at Lunarpages so I don’t necessarily agree we are a minority. I believe anyone’s success isn’t based on gender but on work ethic, commitment and willingness to learn and step up. We have many men at LP in similar roles, again based on their experience and skills and dedication.
I think it’s also important to note that within our workplace, promotions and acknowledgements are awarded because of your work through an unbiased process that isn’t based on gender. I.e. Lunarpages is a chick friendly company and we are slowly taking over the place 😉
8) Do you see virtualization to play a large role in the web hosting business?
I do think that in the future virtualization will be a more prominent management solution at the very least. Because a virtual machine would be entirely isolated from its host, as well as the rest of the machines that make up the pack, if one virtual box crashes and burns, the others will not follow suit. This means that we could practically eliminate any kind of planned downtime required to take care of system administration and general maintenance tasks, which would really benefit our customers! Our downtime is already miniscule, but any kind of further guarantee couldn’t hurt. 😉
9) Last question: Pepsi or Coke? Diet or Regular?
I rarely drink soda but if I do it is regular coke only in a glass, on loads of ice 😉 If we’re talking coffee then I have 2 x quad venti white chocolate mochas, with 2 add shots in each … every day! That’s 8 shots of coffee not including the huge cup I have when I wake up at 5am every day.
Thanks to Amy for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions. The Web Hosting Resource Kit wishes you and Lunarpages all the best for the future. Here is the website for this great web hosting business.