About a year ago, our team enjoyed having the opportunity to attend HostingCon in San Diego, California. In less than a week, this year's conference is going to be held on July 16 – 18, 2012 at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Centre. This is always an exciting and very anticipated conference as it is the premier conference and trade show for the hosted services industry in North America. Per their site, "the conference features 52 educational sessions across 3 full days presented by more than 100 speakers and panelists, including numerous industry thought leaders and trend setters. More than 1,800 people from all areas and niches of the hosted services industry are expected to attend the conference." This is always a jam packed conference!
Allow us to do some of the homework for you and highlight three of the many speakers including some interesting tidbits related to them for your knowledge:
1. Noam Wasserman: Professor, Harvard Business School
Wasserman is a professor at Harvard Business School where he teaches an MBA elective, Founders’ Dilemmas, for which he was awarded the HBS Faculty Teaching Award and the Academy of Management’s 2010 Innovation in Pedagogy Award. In 2011, the course was also named one of the top entrepreneurship courses in the country by Inc. magazine. In March, he published the book The Founder’s Dilemmas: Avoiding the Pitfalls that can Sink a Startup. A recent Forbes article reviewed that "Wasserman’s book brings analytical rigor to the crucial “people choices” that company founders make, showing that many common choices are the riskiest. Much as systematic Moneyball data analysis uncovered the inadequacy of scouting methods alone, Wasserman’s data provide fresh insight into founders and start-ups." You can follow him on Twitter at @noamwass.
2. Liam Eagle: Editor-in-Chief, Web Host Industry Review
Eagle has worked as a contributor to the Web Host Industry Review since its inception in 2000, and as editor since 2003. Through the WHIR, Liam spots Web hosting trends and offers opinions on the industry-wide impacts of major developments and the motivation behind big announcements. He recently interviewed Philbert Shih from Structure Research and one of his compelling questions was how international markets were affecting the hosting business. Shih's answer, aligned with a recent survey from the Uptime Institute, stating that, "International markets are the next frontier of opportunity. It is about addressable market and opportunity. International markets are also crucial because the business has gone global. Organizations have global audiences and the infrastructure has to keep up." You can follow him on Twitter at @liameagle.
3. Ditlev Bredahl: CEO, OnApp
Bredahl is an Internet and hosting industry veteran, with more than 15 years’ experience leading hosting and technology companies. Ditlev has an MBA in International Business from the European Institute for Public Affairs and Lobbying in Brussels, and a degree in Economics from AAU, Denmark. You can follow him on Twitter at @ditlev. From his feed, you'll notice that he's approachable and he even shares random pictures nearby his current home in the UK as shown below. How about that for an ice breaker, eh? You can thank us later.
The comprehensive list of speakers provides all of the biographies on each of them. Finally, if you're new to this conference, or would like a reminder on how to make the most out of HostingCon, you can read five tips on their official blog. Whether you are on site in Boston or not, anyone can follow the event live online on Twitter by searching the official hashtag #hostingcon, connect with their official handle @hostingcon and when you do, we invite you to tag us @cawebhosting. If you're an avid Facebook user, you can check out our photo album from HostingCon 2011 on our Canadian Web Hosting Facebook page and don't forget to like us. We love all of our social fans!Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Have you seen or used any QR codes lately?
A QR Code stands for a Quick Response Code which is a matrix barcode or two-dimensional code like the image above. It was initially used in the automotive industry back in Japan. More recently, the system has become popular in all different types of industries among marketers and businesses of all sizes. They are a quick and useful platform to facilitate and add even more depth with your current or potential customer base to engage with your products or services. Various ways to use them include guiding consumers towards your landing page, providing deals or coupons, informing customers about product stats, entering contests or sending them to social media pages.
Here are five questions and points to consider before launching a QR code campaign:
- What is your main purpose? The answer will vary depending on your company. You may want the QR code to directly like your Facebook page, you could provide additional product or service information, the code could send consumers to a sweepstakes page to enter for giveaways, free coupons codes, even an entire e-book giveaway if you'd like.
- Does the majority of your audience operate on a daily basis with smartphones? If they don't use them, it would be pointless to use this platform if they don't have the right tools to take part in it.
- If you're sending the consumers to your site, is your site optimized for a mobile platform? Take the time to ensure that your site is well designed and it wouldn't hurt to test it out on different mobile devices and operating systems to be sure that everything shows up where you want them to.
- Where is your audience going to view your QR code in the real world? For example, if you plan on posting your code on a billboard, find out the ideal location where your customer base would most likely walk by in your city. Another consideration to keep in mind is to be sure that the area that you choose has good cell phone reception and good lighting in order for the scanning to work. If you're going to post it in a magazine, figure out what they're reading.
- Are you using a trackable URL? This is important in order to measure the success of your campaign which will provide stats on the number of QR code scans and even find out the devices that the consumers are using.
We continue to see the use of QR codes around us, and this provides yet another way for companies to enhance a buying experience and a different way to engage with our more technology savvy consumers as a whole. If you haven't tried yet, you should go to your smartphone app store, and download a QR code decoder, and next time you see one, you can quickly scan it to see where it'll lead you to. This code scanning concept has been around for at least two decades with a more prominent usage in Japan and Europe, however, with the sales of smarphones still on the rise, they might show up more.
To add more context to the success of QR codes, I even won a prize at the last HostingCon last year by scanning one. It led to me a site where I had to enter some of my contact information and next thing I knew, I had won a cool toy - AR Drone! Here's a recent, local QR code that I found while walking down the street.Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru
Every year at HostingCon we are always looking for new and innovative products that can add some real value to our product line and provide a competitive advantage for customers who engage us for web hosting services. Listed below are 3 products that stood out from the pack and seem to be a step ahead of their competition. In putting this article together, I realize that what ties them together is something that I didn’t actually see a whole lot of at this year’s show – security. Through various conversations with industry experts, I expected to see a lot more security products on the floor in support of various cloud initiatives or various hosting ecosystems like OpenStack. But interestingly enough, the focus this year was more on information management and automation, but will save a review of that topic for another article.
Black Lotus Mitigation Pro
As many web hosting companies can confirm, DDoS attacks are just a part of the business that we have all had to learn to get along with. Depending on your bandwidth provider, or strategic direction of your company, how you deal with DDoS is a company decision. Over the years, we have continually gone with the Null Route approach and to help protect our network, we were not always lenient with those customers getting attacked. As the company has changed, we have continued to look for new avenues to protect our networks and customers from DDoS and we think that the Mitigation Pro might finally be a tool that we are willing to utilize. This tool could provide us with a level of control since it is built into our network and allows us to partner with a company who has the expertise and services to support our initiatives.
In our case, we looked specifically at the Mitigation Pro 1008 appliance (manufactured by Intruguard), which Black Lotus defines as a “robust mitigation platform with advanced features that accurately detect and mitigate attacks on layers 3 through 7.” It works by utilizing active production from attacks such as HTTP GET and POST, SYN Floods, UDP Floods, spoofed packets at Layer 7 and many more. One of the biggest benefits of the tool is the ability to either integrate it your existing network and offload the attacks on to a separate line, or offload the attacks to the Black Lotus’ network. For us, this provides a layer of control that we are comfortable with, while still having options and expertise to back us up. One side note is that if you are not a DDoS expert, you will definitely want to consider using Black Lotus’ services to setup your boxes, as there does appear to be a very high learning curve.
One of our areas of focus this year for Canadian Web Hosting was security. We’ve heard a lot of about Cloudflare and this was a great opportunity to talk to the team there to get a better understanding of their service offering. While doing that, we also took some time to meet one of our existing vendors called Imperva. While standing there, they took the time to introduce us to Marc Gaffan, Cofounder of Incapsula. He gave us a quick overview of the product, and talked a bit about how Incapsula came to be. Similar to Cloudflare, Incapsula offers end-users the ability to improve performance, security and uptime. Essentially the way it works is your site traffic is routed through a network of high-powered servers all the while analyzing all incoming traffic to keep threats out of the network. It does this by caching and optimizing its content and serving it directly from their globally distributed servers.
One of the things that stood out about Incapsula is just how easy the service really is. To get started, you just need to make a couple of changes to your DNS including CNAME and A records, and everything is good to go. Marc walked us through an example with one of our domains and it took maybe all of 3 minutes to complete the process. You start by simply entering your domain URL, let Incapsula analyze your settings, and then you are given directions on what changes need to be made. It really is that easy.
Getting back to the original reason we stopped by the booth, and one of the biggest differentiators that Incapsula offers is the built in Web Application Firewall that protects end-users again SQL-injection and Cross Site Scripting in their free personal plan. At this time, you have to pay $20 to Cloudflare for a similar service.
Global Sign One Click SSL
Probably the biggest surprise (thought it shouldn’t have been) of HostingCon 2011 was Global Sign’s recently introduced One-Click SSL technology. Historically speaking, applying and installing SSL certificates has always been an area where we sought improvement. Whether it is the length of time to complete the request, or the verification requirements, SSL’s have always been a hosting product that we have to have but couldn’t find a way to seamlessly execute because it was always a manual process.
After spending some time with Frank Romito at Global Sign, we were directed to a recent press release that accurately describes the issue and how Once Click SSL technology addresses that issue. “Automation of the SSL Certificate lifecycle (CSR generation, application, approval and Certification installation) is essential to avoid unwanted and expensive customer support issues. Issues can range from customer needing assistance with CRS generation, approvals and/or Certificate Installation. “
What makes it unique is that we are able to move away from provisioning of the SSL and can automate all aspects of the SSL lifecycle, thereby allowing us to focus on what we do best – exceptional service for our customers. The technology works by automatically creating the keys, the Certificate Signing Request (CSR), validates the control of the domain and installs the issue certificate to the appropriate website within several minutes.
San Diego, California, treated us well. Everyone was very excited to attend again this year and the event delivered as expected. Yes, we're finally back from HostingCon and in the next few weeks, we're excited to share all of our experiences and connections that we've made at this fantastic three day conference from different perspectives. Our team in attendance comprised of new and long-time attendees, so we're sure that you'll find some interesting insights into our upcoming blog posts, and introductions to several new products and services that may be incorporated in the months ahead.
As a first time goer from attending and observing others in the audience, I wanted to share four main thoughts including four suggested tips for upcoming HostingCon attendees for the years to come.
1. Review the Conference Schedule
With three packed days at the conference, it's quite helpful for a first time goer to scan the schedule ahead of time. There are many sessions that you can attend via different tracks and selecting them ahead of time will help you manage your time more effectively during the conference, so you're not wasting time trying to figure out where to head to next.
2. Pre-Connections using HostingCon Connect
This was a useful tool to use prior or even during the conference to connect with other registered attendees. I received a few pings from other attendees and even though, our schedules didn't sync for a meet up, I was still able to make new connections online for the future. It's useful and sometimes, more efficient to start introduction online since it allows you to do research on one another, then once you meet face-to-face, you already have content to discuss. This brings us to our next point.
3. Networking during the Conference
With around 1800 attendees, it can get overwhelming very fast when you're walking through a sea of people. By using the previous point, it can ease the introductions, however, it's during non-scheduled events that you can take advantage of connecting on a more personal level with your peers. You can do it anywhere from waiting in line at the lunch buffet to sitting near someone at a session, or perhaps even in the bathroom if you happen to spot their nifty HostingCon badges, or even the good ole water cooler in the back of the informational session rooms. The prime area to network was, of course, at the exhibition hall where we quickly found out that you needed to have a big stack of business cards to hand out or drop off or else, you'd run out quickly. It was fun to see the creativity with all the different booths on deck, especially the way each company engaged with us through simple conversations or better yet, with their interactive games; we'll have more to share on the games.
4. Connecting and Learning
Thanks to all of the open slots for networking, before and at the end of each day, not to mention the after parties, we all gathered a pile of business cards throughout each day and it was especially great to see how many countries were represented. What diversity! During the informational sessions, I was able to connect with the speakers by reporting their talks live to other attendees but also to those who couldn't be on site by using the #hostingcon hashtag. It even worked for keynote speakers. Twitter can be a very powerful tool and we love being social with our peers, our customers and at conferences, it gives you a new venue to connect in a more conversational, informal way.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first HostingCon because of the new connections that I made online and offline, the new insights that I learned during the marketing and sales sessions, and witness the endless amount of freebies and prizes including teeshirts, iPad 2, AR drone, $100 VISA card, $5 Starbucks giftcards and much more that our team gathered and won. From talking to past attendees, each year has improvements and we can only expect Boston in 2012 to be even bigger and better.
Were you there? What did you think?
CTO / SEO Guru
HostingCon 2011 is less than a week away in sunny San Diego, California, and we’d like to share with our readers what we’re looking forward to. Part of our crew has attended last year and it’ll be an insightful experience for them to share notes with the rest of the new team members attending this year. Our team will consist of a mix of marketing and IT folks.
Besides being in warmer temperatures (the Pacific Northwest has been chilly), we’re excited for:
1) New Insights
For some of us, this will be the biggest convention that we’ve ever been a part of and with the number of companies in attendance, we’ll be sure to mingle and talk with other peers to see the hosting industry from a different perspective such as the ways one conducts business depending on their scale. What are the differences and commonalities? Sometimes, it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations that this will definitely be a nice way to step back and view the entire business from a wider angle.
2) Informational Sessions
This year, there will be four different tracks including marketing and sales, emerging trends, technology and operations, and finally, business development. The line up of speakers look terrific and the name of all the workshops listed on the schedule look very content-rich. We expect the quality of the information to be enriching in more ways than one, not to mention the speakers themselves.
With three main networking sessions throughout the conference, we will be sure to connect with as many industry members as possible and if you want to be proactive, you can even use HostingCon Connect to reach out to other attendees ahead of time by searching by names or titles. According to the site, you take in account that “There is a limit of 40 company searches and 20 messages you can send per attendee.”
We’re looking forward to this annual event and we hope to see you there!Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru