Interview: Steve Eschweiler, Director or Operations of Hivelocity Hosting
Steve Eschweiler is the Director of Operations and a principal owner of Hivelocity Hosting, a data center that provides bare-metal servers, cloud hosting and colocation services to customers in over 130 countries around the world. Their staff of 50 comprises of Linux and Windows systems engineers, network engineers, a cloud development team and python developers.
1. You’ve been the director of operations at Hivelocity Hosting for the better part of 14 years. What exactly does your job entail?
In short my job is to ensure that our Sales, Facility, Cloud, Tech Support and Development Managers are each doing their job and that each of their departments is functioning at a high level.
2. How do the skills you acquired while earning a BS, Business Administration and Marketing help you as director of operations at Hivelocity?
When we founded Hivelocity back in 2002 there was only 4 of us in a basement. At that time my role was to establish our brand and sell our product. With zero customers and zero revenue day 1, having that marketing background to help the brand gain traction was invaluable. As we have grown over the years my role has evolved and now as our Director of Operations, most of what I have learned, I have learned on the job.
3. What hard and soft skills do you need to do your job effectively?
The ability to take an objective perspective of your company and recognize its strengths and weaknesses is probably the most essential quality I have. Being able to identify your company’s best attributes as well as where you need to improve is a skill that is useful every day. It helps with business development strategies, company initiatives, recognizing your leaders as well as the team members who need to improve. When you look at your company as a customer and as a competitor it forces you to always improve your company and the products you offer.
Certainly having an understanding of the technology we use in our industry is imperative as well. It is not necessary to be a systems admin, but having a foundation of Linux, Windows, virtualization, cloud and the hardware that supports it is imperative.
4. Given all of the news reports about cyberattacks and the like, what does Hivelocity do to ensure that its dedicated servers remain operational around the clock?
We are able to identify and automatically block the vast majority of malicious attacks targeting servers on our network with an arsenal proprietary measures we take at the edge and within our network. Additionally, we recently invested in a Corero Smartwall appliance that allows us to scrub up to 20Gbps of malicious traffic allowing us to mitigate the attacks that may make it through our first line of defenses.
5. What is the value proposition inherent in retaining the services of a company such as yours rather than simply housing servers in-house?
So twenty, maybe even ten years ago it was common for businesses to house their servers in the company server closet. Today, as the internet has become a way of life for most every business, not only has the amount of data on those servers increased but the value of that data is enormous. At a certain point most businesses today have that oh my god moment where they say, “I have my entire customer data base along with all of my company’s proprietary information in this dingy closet that is left alone at the end of every day with only a wooden door providing security”. This is when a company like Hivelocity enters the picture. In addition to providing a much more secure environment our infrastructure is built to ensure that data is available 100% of the time no matter the circumstance.”
6. Do you find that prospective customers need to be sold on the option of using a hosting services provider — or do they already understand how it would benefit them?
Most of our customers are fairly tech savvy and don’t need us to sell them on the benefit of our services. They only need us to sell them on why our solution is going to benefit them more than someone else’s.
7. Why is Hivelocity a better option than its rivals?
First and foremost, we have provided our customers with 100% uptime for several years. That is not something many of our competitors can say. Next, our ability and willingness to provide and support the most cutting edge cloud technology is unrivaled. Lastly, our company is big enough that we can provide any solution, no matter how sophisticated or complex it may be. However, we are not Amazon, we are not IBM, we are small enough that every customer counts and every customer’s success means a great deal to us.
8. What sorts of challenges do you face today as a company that you did not, say, five years ago?
It was only in the last 5 years that companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google and IBM entered the hosting space. The entrance of the biggest names in technology to our space has definitely shifted the dynamic and forced everyone to find and focus on differentiators.
9. What challenges does your company face when it comes to servicing customers in more than 130 different countries?
To be clear, we are located in America, it is our customers who are all over the world. That being said, we speak English and Spanish at Hivelocity. When you have customers spanning 137 countries and you are troubleshooting complex solutions, having a language barrier can introduce challenges. Luckily, we offer support not only over the phone but over a ticket or chat system which enables us to leverage translation software that helps greatly.
10. What sort of advice would you give to a college or university student looking to work at a hosting services provider in the future?
Attaining your degree is an incredible accomplishment and not something to be taken lightly. However, when we are looking for good candidates, in addition to looking at educational accomplishments we equally consider what you are accomplishing away from the university. Teaching yourself how to code or building an OpenStack cloud at your home are the types of things we keep a close eye out for.