September 29, 2015

Exclusive Interview: Nick Dvas of Servers.com

servers-logoIn 2013, XBT Holding S.A began the creation of Servers.com by first acquiring the domain name, and then developing Servers.com as a consolidated product offering. Nick Dvas, Project Manager for Servers.com, recently spoke with Linux.com about the company, what it offers, and how Linux and open source play a role in its operations.

Tell me about Servers.com — what led XBT to create it?

At XBT, we have enormous amount of experience in all areas of hosting technologies. We have over 20,000 servers in active lease by customers. We’ve built a top-class network with the capacity currently approaching 2 Tbps, and our Content Delivery Network (CDN) serves approximately 800 Gbps of content currently – and that keeps growing. By acquisitions, we’ve reached geographical diversity and expanded our reach to three continents. What XBT lacked was a single strong brand, capable of going beyond B2B sales into B2SMB and B2C markets.  By consolidating the service offerings under a single offering, Servers.com lets customers select what they want.

What services does Servers.com offer? What will be added?

Currently, we have four services: Dedicated Servers, Cloud Servers, Cloud Storage, and Intelligent DNS.

Dedicated Servers are our core business, and will remain such. We offer best-of-breed Dell servers with top-notch CPUs, spice up this offer with our 40gbps connection available for each server, and with our Global Private Network. We’ve put enormous effort and labor into our Dedicated Servers infrastructure, and we succeeded in building a service for the most demanding professionals.

Our Cloud Servers are above an industry-standard level as well. On top of high-performance SSD instances, we offer private networking for Cloud Servers, and it is really private and secure -- way more secure than what you can find with many other providers.

Cloud Storage offers triple redundancy of a stored data and has proved itself as a good solution both for backup storage and for website media content.

Finally, Intelligent DNS -- the first in an upcoming line of our Intelligent products -- is a DNS hosting service, capable of determining the health of servers behind DNS records and managing these records based on servers’ availability. For the customer it means that, if they have several servers, traffic will never be routed to a broken one.

Nick 0103We see more services coming this year -- Monitoring, Databases, and Load Balancing are three I’d like to mention. Plus, our plans include further geographical expansion -- we’re building a segment in Singapore, and we’ve recently completed an acquisition of a Russian company, so we’ll have a presence in Moscow.  

How is the market for servers and cloud service changing? For example, what new types of service and capability are customers asking for?

Current structure of demand is dual. We see growing demand both in Dedicated Servers, and in Cloud. 2015 is definitely the year of IT security: companies started feeling the importance of investments in IT security. So, demand for private networking is huge.

Plus, we have more data, larger graphical formats, better bandwidth and computers at the customers’ side: so, we see more networking throughput, better CPUs, larger storage -- well-expected demand pattern.

On top of that, being DevOps-friendly is a must. So, cool features like Intelligent DNS that I described before create additional value for customers and decrease their operational costs, relieving them from some headaches.

What kinds of companies look for multi-continent data centers and connectivity?

Obviously, companies with customers on both continents if we speak about web hosting. On the other side, we have customers from development industry and they have multiple remote offices / branch offices. In this case, fast and stable connection between locations on both sites is a must. Some developments studios maintain production as well, demanding a truly global infrastructure design in order to sustain development process, QA, and production. In this case, the proximity is a business critical requirement. You need to be where your customers are.

Another scenario is a global failover cluster, which can be the case for any kind of business demanding for business continuity.

Customers using Servers.com cloud, cloud server, and cloud storage services include e-commerce, gaming, finance, and development.

What kind of performance and reliability difference does "100% SSD Cloud" make? What kinds of companies and apps does this matter to most?

SSD has become a standard rather than a feature these days. I’d put the answer the other way: if you do not have SSD offering in your cloud, you're behind the demand and behind the market. SSD has performance an order of magnitude better than magnetic drives. Magnetic drives in the cloud are becoming a truly niche solution, targeting those who need to have large amounts of content stored at a low price.

Why is open source so important to the company?

We chose open source – specifically OpenStack – as the platform for creating public and private clouds, because it can scale up for carrier-grade activity, because we can tune services for each customer’s needs, and because it integrates with other open and proprietary enterprise environments. For example, we needed to be able to integrate our bare-metal offerings with our cloud services.

And we had already been managing open-source systems like Linux and BSD that our customers were using, plus we had been actively using OpenStack components like Neutron for networking, and Swift for storage, and Nginx behind our CDN. We use BackOffice as the management system that provides fulfillment of servers and on top of the OpenStack cloud. Plus, we have made contributions to OpenStack.

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