Interview with SiteCloud Founder, Trey Gardner

Basic Introduction
SiteCloud Hosting

Ever heard of SiteCloud? No? Well, in case you are looking for some affordable cloud-based hosting, it’s time to get to know them. Founded by Trey Gardner, SiteCloud is growing in lighting speed and making its name rapidly in hosting industry. As there are still little review done on SiteCloud, I thought it’d be a good idea to have a Q&A session with Trey to know more about this company.

So… here it goes (Thanks for the time again, Trey – it’s a great interview!).

*Updates Jan 2011: Also, check out my latest SiteCloud Review.

Q&A with SiteCloud Founder and CEO

Hello Trey, it is great to have you here with us today. For start, please briefly introduce yourself (again :)) and your new company SiteCloud.

My name is Trey Gardner and I am the CEO of SiteCloud (http://www.sitecloud.com). I have been in the web hosting business for over 12 years and I have had the opportunity to work with some of the finest minds in the web hosting industry and for some great companies.

SiteCloud is the first of it’s kind and is the testament to some of the best minds. I have met in the field. SiteCloud is a cPanel web hosting provider with all of the bells and whistles of cPanel but sitting on top of a cloud hosting infrastructure, which is the most advanced hosting infrastructure available today.

Many online service provides, including SiteCloud, have "gone Cloud" to enhance their services. Can you tell us, in general, what are the benefits of cluster computing/cloud hosting from the view-point of a hosting user?

cloud hosting infographic

Well, as you say many hosting providers have gone cloud but the reality is that not many of them, we really could not find any, offer anything but cloud based infrastructure with bare bones access and no additional options, like cPanel, unless they were to install and manage themselves or for an exorbitant fee from the service providers.

What cloud hosting does allow for is it allows web site users the ability to grow their sites where they either have large spikes of usage and/or traffic which could not be handled by a shared service provider, essentially for larger sites which need more power.

It also allows for users to have different, individual system upgrades, for instance if they needed more CPU and only more cpu they could upgrade only that part of their needs without having also to upgrade the amount of disk space or memory if they did not need to.

It’s important to realize that at SiteCloud we’ve bundled the benefits that cloud hosting has provided and have built our own load balanced cPanel platform on top. We’re able to deliver load balanced cPanel-based hosting as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) versus Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), where customers have to set it up all themselves.

This sounds great… but, is cloud hosting a good choice for CMS users? For example if I am a Joomla user, would it be very complicated to install (and manage) my Joomla websites on SiteCloud?

Absolutely, SiteCloud is a terrific choice for CMS sites like Joomla & Drupal as well as blogs like WordPress and B2Evolution, the reason being is that these open source software programs have tons of plug-in options available to them and when those sites are hit with a lot of visitors who start to use many of the features that those sites will consume too many resources within a shared hosting environment.

In these cases the clients usually are suspended and told to find a VPS or dedicated server solution which can be far more expensive and more work for the hosting customer. Because SiteCloud uses a cloud based hosting environment when our clients experience spikes and need more system resources we are available to get those to them on the fly, thanks to our load balanced infrastructure. Also because we are a cPanel hosting provider that always has the latest installs & features on our servers our clients are able to easily install Joomla or any other CMS onto their account & will always have the latest features and security, just like they have been with any traditional cPanel-based hosting provider.

Till date, there are still some unsolved security issues with cloud/cluster computing. Should your customers be concerned with this?

Our security for our own information, billing, systems, what not as well as our clients sites security is a top priority for us. We have information we don’t want exposed and take very seriously our clients’ security which is within the same apparatus. There are no unsolved security areas that we have seen after extensive testing of our systems but we are ever vigilant to make sure that we stay on top of anything new which may pose a risk. It’s also this reason that we have built our own cloud to run our platform on top of. This gives us greater control and flexibility, both for the advancement of our system and also from a security point of view.

Some readers might have not heard about Softaculous – a great feature offered at SiteCloud. Can you tell us more about this Auto Installer?

Many of cPanel hosting users are familiar with Fantastico, a script auto-installer. Softaculous is a new script installer that is very exciting because it offers installation of over 150 open-source scripts, such as blogs, CMS, photo galleries, forums, etc. It also provides very quick version updates. This is crucial because of the simple fact that outdated versions can result in exploited web sites. These updates often come within 15 minutes of the new version release. Users will be able to install, update and delete installations of scripts within a few clicks… making it easier to get your favorite script on the cloud faster.

SiteCloud used to be using Amazon EC2 Technology but not now anymore. What happened? Can we know whose cloud/cluster technology are you guys implementing now?

Initially after extensive testing of different companies we could partner with for our cloud infrastructure we decided that the Amazon EC2 looked like it was going to be exactly what we had wanted. Over time we saw some areas of concern for our clients within this infrastructure.

We started to look around again at other providers and we circled back to our friends at SingleHop*, whom we have worked with for several years with GreenGeeks. We decided to give them an opportunity and we explained what we were looking to accomplish and they were able to facilitate what we needed. There were some upgrades which we worked together on and overall the relationship has proven to be both better for us and our customers’ needs. It’s worth mentioning that we did not use their cloud infrastructure, but rather used their traditional servers/network to build our own cloud, specifically for the use of our platform. Our cloud/platform is 100% for our customers; our resources are not shared with other companies.

*Site note: More about SingleHop in this interview with SingleHop Founder, Zak Boca.

SiteCloud promised "Never get suspended for CPU usage". This sounds GREAT; but, what comes next? For example, what will happen next when a ‘Little Cloud’ user’s website hit 1,001 compute cycles (fyi, the given quota is 1,000)?

Let me explain a bit about our compute cycles. One thousand (1000) compute cycles is the equivalent to running 10% of a modern Xeon CPU core continuously for 1 month. Traditional hosting providers often have in their terms of service that you’re NOT allowed to use 10% of the CPU for more than 60 to 90 seconds, and if you do you’re suspended. With SiteCloud, let’s say for example you purchase our Little Cloud for $5.95 per month, which gives you 1000 compute cycles for a month. You’ve gone over the cycles by 200, you will be charged overage of $0.10 cents per compute cycle. This means you will be billed for $20 overage, one-time. As a customer, you’re given the option to either pay the overage one time or decide to upgrade to our Big Cloud for $7.95 per month, which gives you 2000 compute cycles, saving you tremendous money on potential overages based on your usage.

Giving our customers the option to pick how they wish to be billed for their usage is something that is unheard of in this industry. From the above example, a customer who’s site is the busiest during the holiday season and slow the rest of the year, it would be worthwhile for them to pay the overage that much versus the whole year. A customer who uses consistently over 1000 compute cycles will be better off on the Big Cloud plan.

We’re also working on features that will enable customers to pause their sites or set a cap for those who fear of going over and do not wish to. For example, a personal site can pause their site after reaching 1000 compute cycles or cap it at 200 over their included compute cycles to control their spend. In a normal case, a personal site however would never go over 1000 compute cycles.

Customers will be able to track usage through their compute cycles chart found within their account. With us, everything is out in the open and there are no secrets.

SiteCloud Shared Hosting Plans
SiteCloud Hosting Plans

"I wish to try SiteCloud out but I am too lazy/ it’s too complicated/it’s too much hassles/ I am no good in tech/ etc etc". What would you tell these potential customers?

Essentially we are no more complicated a web hosting company than any cPanel shared hosting provider in terms of what the client needs to know. We also offer several web site building programs that the client can use and we have instructions and video tutorials available to assist them with learning the systems and getting a web site up easily and fast.

As I have mentioned before here, we’ve taken the hard work of getting a load balanced cloud hosting system setup and are delivering it to the customer as they have been used to for over a decade; as an easy to use “shared hosting” like service.

Web hosting is a competitive (but far from being saturated I believe) industry. What are your long term plans for SiteCloud to win the market? Where do you see SiteCloud in next 3 years?

In 3 years I see SiteCloud as the best choice for web site hosting customers who want a stable platform so that they can grow their web sites as quickly as they would like. Right now we are the only cPanel hosting company with affordable costs. We do anticipate other hosting companies trying to catch up to our technology but at the same time our team is continuously working on enhancing our services so, knock on wood, I believe we should be at the forefront of cloud hosting for some time into the future.

That would be all from my side. Do you have anything to add for this interview?

Thank you the only thing that I would like to add is for anyone who is reading this & who wants to know more about how SiteCloud can suit your needs please contact one of our sales or support reps.

Alright, I am sure our readers have learn a lot from you today. Thanks again for the great interview and good luck to you and SiteCloud.

SoundBite: SiteCloud Interview

Although SiteCloud has not get into the major hosting review sites at this time of writing, I believe SiteCloud is destined to hit great success. For those who are interested to try out cloud-based hosting, I suggest you grab an account at SiteCloud asap since the price is cheap ($5.95/mo) now. Users can also check out my latest SiteCloud Review for more details.

Before I end this, here are the flash backs of some important points in this interview.

  • Cloud hosting like SiteCloud, provides hosting reliability that other traditional web hosts cannot compete.
  • SiteCloud is very user-friendly as the web host uses the cPanel (a very popular hosting software) as its primary control panel.
  • SiteCloud users will never get suspended for extensive CPU usage, however a $0.10/compute cycle will be charged.
  • SiteCloud built its own load balanced cPanel platform on top – the web host is able to deliver load balanced cPanel-based hosting as a Platform as a Service (PaaS) versus Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

To learn more about SiteCloud, visit SiteCloud website at: http://www.sitecloud.com.