Welcome to Penton Technology Newsmakers, a recurring monthly series focused on bringing you informative one-on-one interviews with industry experts. For this month’s edition, we talked to HOSTING CEO Joel Daly, who took over as CEO in February. Daly co-founded HOSTING along with former CEO Art Zeile. In this Q&A, Daly talks about his new role, and how conversations with customers have changed as cloud and compliance have become critical. This Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
The WHIR: Can you start by giving me a bit of a background on HOSTING?
Joel Daly: We put together HOSTING on the concept of getting into this crazy thing called cloud. Now 8 years ago, we had to explain what the cloud was, and now my mother and my uncles and everybody who’s out there can explain exactly what cloud is. It’s not an education piece anymore. Our strategy was to create a national footprint and we did that; we were able to acquire and build locations across the U.S. Now we’ve got around six data centers.
The other crazy challenge that I was fascinated with is, like it or not, with our services we have to partner very closely with our customers. I’ve always had a passion towards customer service. The big business challenge that was out there is can you build a great services company through acquisitions which is sometimes challenging because you’ve got old processes. People that had their own cultures and I’m very proud to say that we’ve accomplished that. We’re very passionate about building a customer service culture.
WHIR: You worked with former HOSTING CEO Art Zeile for a long time.
Daly: Art is one of my best friends; really great guy. He made the decision to take some personal time and to pursue some other opportunities but he’s still a very large investor and is very close with the company. We’re still tied in very closely with him and do wish the best for him. If you take a look at our past we’ve been a dynamic duo and… I’m excited about the new role which he told me, it is time for me to do. We’ve got our management team who’s been with us for a while.
WHIR: You’re in an interesting position coming from the role of HOSTING founder and COO before taking over as CEO. Can you talk about that a bit?
Daly: I was very fortunate being founder, being COO, and working through all the integration stuff that was out there, getting that service culture up and going. With that, over the course of time, we have continued to refine our strategy of what stake in the ground do you want to own. Through the acquisitions and through our strategic initiatives, we really honed in on leveraging the cloud by providing managed services to companies that really at the bottom line require any type of HIPPA or PCI compliance. We wanted to be able to leverage the right tools that were out there, putting the right workload, using the right tool for the right workload. From day one we’ve always offered what’s called hybrid services. Being able to not force customers on any one specific technology, but allowing them for flexibility. As we continue to focus on those regulated markets, really what it comes down to is if you look at HIPPA and PCI they usually come down to what I call the compliant verticals. Those are healthcare, retail, financial services, and any technology companies that service them.
From a role standpoint, being an entrepreneur, I’ve done almost everybody’s job. I was pretty fortunate in doing the COO role which was product engineering, operations, and then focused on sales and marketing. With the most recent announcement I’m excited about being the CEO. Really if you look at my background, I’ve been doing a lot of these things for a very long time. I’m truly excited in the new role and the team that we have.
WHIR: So obviously coming from the COO role into the CEO role you have a pretty unique perspective on your customers as well as the employees in your organization. How are you bringing that experience and how’s that going to shape your leadership at HOSTING?
Daly: The greatest thing about being an entrepreneur and when you start with a company of two people is you have to do everybody’s job. The beauty of being in a smaller company is the fact that you’ve walked in everybody’s shoes. We’re now $100 million dollar company with around 400 employees and my focus is bringing my background and experience. I am my customer. I had to figure out, what are the best technologies that are out there?
The other big shift that’s happening within the industry is that infrastructure is only one component. The decision making of that infrastructure is shifting from the folks that used to be in charge of infrastructure to the apps developers. Really being able to assist them in taking away impediments for them to deliver their software to their end users that really add value. I believe that my background, having lived that pain, having being in charge of all of our software, all of our systems engineering, I can really bring to the table, especially with all my prospect and my customer conversations, empathy because I’ve experienced their pain. I do believe that there’s great value in that, not only in the way that we deliver our services but also thinking about how we’re trying to drive our manage services and our new product development in the future.
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