Q&A: Alex Hilton, Rise

Rise is a leading Web hosting and cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service hosting provider that’s been in business since 1999. As part of Fasthosts Internet, the company has built a business that now has over 1 million domains under management, over 500,000 hosted Web sites and more than 8,000 dedicated servers. Rise is constantly striving to provide its partners, and their customers, with more flexibility and choice in IT provision through online hosted services. We spoke to the company to find out a little more about its cloud hosting strategy.

Tell us about your role at Rise

I am responsible for driving sales growth and building sustainable partnerships through the Rise brand and the wider Fasthost group of companies.

In less than 140 words, can you explain cloud computing?

Cloud computing is very simple. The cloud is the network—being both ‘public’ and ‘private’. The public is based on the Web or public IP; the private is built within a company network, VPN or LAN. The infrastructure is built into the network ‘cloud’ in the form of dedicated or virtualised servers and storage (SAN). The real benefit of cloud computing is can be used as required on demand, is fully managed by the provider, and a customer can request as much or as little of a service as they require at any given time and pay accordingly—much more cost effective utilisation of IT.

Can you briefly explain Rise?

Rise is part of the global multi-billion Euro United Internet group, with sister company Fasthosts Internet in the UK and 1&1 in Germany and the US. Rise delivers hosted IT as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to channel partners. As the service provider, Rise utilises its two UK based Data Centres (and one in the US) and extends that utilisation as a ‘White Label’ branded service to partners who then present that customised service to their customers.

Using the brand of Data Centre on Demand (DCoD), Rise offers a new added-value proposition to a partners portfolio of products. Targeted exclusively at Valued Added Resellers, Independent Software Vendors and Systems Integrators it offers them an IaaS solution for their customers.

Based on the principles of cloud computing, the DCoD services comprise of virtual and dedicated servers, able to be combined or used individually to create bespoke solutions for businesses. The DCoD positions hosted services firmly at the control of the channel partner, enabling them to expand their portfolio quickly, yet retaining full control of the end-customer and their trusted advisor status.

What are the most common misconceptions around cloud technology?

There has been, and still is, a great lack of understanding and trust surrounding the cloud. Independent research commissioned by Rise indicated that only 46% of small businesses are confident making their own IT decisions, with 47% trusting partners and suppliers over any other source, for advice on making IT investments. However as Rise’s business model is partner focused the ‘Trusted Advisor’ can remain the primary influence with customers.

Is cloud computing right for all sizes of business?

Rise has a mix of partners offering cloud computing solutions in to all markets of all sizes, however small and medium-sized businesses in particular can see the greatest benefit. Where cash flow is tight and assets are diligently purchased, the promise of hosted and subscription-based IT services with little to no up-front costs is very appealing to businesses. Rise is targeting the SMB market because what was once too expensive to consider, enterprise class services are now much more affordable due to the pay on demand nature of the cloud.

Are fears around cloud security justified?

Rise is part of Fasthosts Internet who has been supplying secure and resilient cloud services for over 10 years. Cloud is a new name, but not a new phenomenon, so businesses should do due diligence and look for suppliers with a track record and buy through a trusted third party. Delivered correctly cloud solutions are as safe on premise solutions with the added benefit of resilience and back up.

Can you tell us some of the business benefits of the cloud?

As IT was the greatest area of investment for small businesses last year, this suggests that it is now seen as critical to business success. However, the nature of that investment is changing; from up front spend to more subscription-based models of IT use, i.e. moving to the cloud.

Independent research conducted by Rise indicated that 40% of small businesses said up-front cost was the biggest barrier to IT purchases, while only 23% expressed concerns about ongoing running costs. As businesses are now buying IT in different ways, with large up-front costs such as hardware and infrastructure increasingly being met by service providers who offer applications and services on demand for predictable, manageable subscription fees this allows for all SMEs to move to the cloud without the concern of cost.

How can we overcome the concerns around compliance and regulation?

Fasthosts is a member of the Cloud Industry Forum, who is working to develop a “Code of Conduct” amongst the hosting community. Rise fully supports this forum.

What are the future goals of Rise?

Rise will continue to increase the number of services offered to the Partner community through the cloud. This will be achieved through the continued development of DCoD with solutions such as disaster recovery, which are already available. A large new state of the art data centre will be coming on line later in 2011, and as cloud hosting continues to grow the business will scale with it.

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Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.