Policy, Privacy and Partnerships Drive Conversation at HostingCon 2013

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This week the WHIR team embraced the Texas heat for HostingCon 2013, the three-day conference hosted by our parent company, iNET Interactive, in the heart of Austin. We had so much fun hosting people at our booth in the expo hall for our Super Mario Kart battle, catching up with new companies, and talking trends with new and returning attendees and exhibitors.

I personally enjoyed the more policy-based educational sessions and panels that broke down broad tech topics like PRISM and patent trolls, and applied them more specifically to the hosting and cloud industry. It was great to hear from people like CloudFlare’s head of policy and investigation Jamie Tomasello, and Erik Martin of Reddit, on how they expect current legislation to impact our industry in the future, and the immediate actions that can be taken from web hosts to help reverse some of the damage and protect future innovation in our growing and changing industry.

An impromptu panel on the final day at HostingCon 2013 discussed an issue that has been top of mind for anyone who uses or works in the Internet industry in the US: NSA and PRISM

Here is a recap of some of the policy-based panels and sessions in case you were unable to attend and want a brief overview:

For further reading on the NSA documents, I would suggest reading what the Electronic Frontier Foundation has to say about the new NSA documents, and how they expose how Americans can be spied on without a warrant. Julie Samuels, a Staff Attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents at EFF, spoke on The Internet in 2020 panel on Tuesday at HostingCon.

Of course, it wouldn’t be HostingCon without new partnerships and products being announced, and we covered several of those stories this week as well. There seemed to be a lot of action in the website builder space in particular, with BaseKit and WebsPlanet making separate partnership announcements with web hosting providers.

In terms of new services, (mt) MediaTemple launched its updated managed VPS offering, and CloudTech support. I got a chance to sit down with (mt) president and COO Russ Reeder and CEO Demian Sellfors to talk about how its hosting plans have changed, and the benefits it sees for SMBs through its new support. We also chatted about website builders, a space it is more involved in following its acquisition of Virb last year. 

Justin covered several of the other panels and sessions that covered topics like big data, growing a small to medium-sized hosting business and hybrid cloud throughout the week.

If you are looking for an in-depth overview of the trends discussed at HostingCon, Jason Verge posted “HostingCon Insights: Hosting Industry Growing & Evolving” on Data Center Knowledge on Thursday, touching on the international outlook for hosting and cloud and a look to the hosting industry in the future.

One thing I noticed – and I’ll use Jason’s words as I like how he put it – is “the mood was good throughout the event, with apprehensive optimism abounding.”  I think the apprehensive optimism was most palatable in the sessions in the Issues and Trends track that dealt with policy.

I definitely got the sense that as the threats become more real (PRISM spying program, anybody?) and the stakes grow, organizations in the hosting and cloud industry are becoming less complacent about pushing back against misinformed lawmakers.

Panelists in these sessions reiterated how easy it is to become involved by writing to your Congress person and letting them know how these policies hurt your business, and stifle growth of the industry at large. It’s these big picture issues on customer privacy and data security that really seemed to be the theme of the conference, and is something I expect more web hosts – big or small – to start thinking and talking about.

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