We had the opportunity to interview one of the founders of TMDHosting, Peter Darazhanski, back in 2016.
Darazhanski peels back the history of TMDHosting, including how he got started and even reminiscing about his first-ever customer. A customer, we might add, was still with them nearly ten years later.
The responses make a fascinating read, particularly the challenges hosting companies face moving from a single-server environment to a cloud-based one.
Interview: Peter Darazhanski
This interview was initially published in January 2016. It is still as relevant and interesting today as it was back then.
How did you get into the web hosting business? How old were you, where did you start, who with and did you have the expertise required or was it something you learned as you went along?
I have started the company with couple of high school friends, while graduating from the Rollins College in Orlando. I have always had_ profound interest in the area of web services, even back at the time when they were still rising on the horizon. Of course, I continue learning new things on a daily basis. Web hosting and services areas are very rapidly evolving, so every day there is something new to explore and that is amazing.
What was the company like in the beginning, and how does it compare now?
Scaling from a small company run by a couple of people to a business that serves thousands of customers per day is one of our greatest achievements. We have changed a lot since our early days, in terms of structure, process and team size. The greatest achievement of all, though, is that our core philosophy remains unchanged since day one.
Do you remember your first web hosting customer? Was it easy getting your first customer? How did they first find you, and did everything go smoothly for them?
Of course I do and I am proud that they are still with us! It is a consulting company from Louisville, Colorado that still depends on us for their everyday WordPress website management and maintenance. Most of our first customers, who I still remember by name and website address, are still hosting their websites with us. I am checking on them from time to time, just to see how they are doing. Keeping customers for that long is definitely inspiring and fueling my dedication to this business even further.
In your early days, did you have any doubts the company would be a success? What was your worst moment?
In the beginning, I had no doubt that the company will make it. Doing what you love is easy and I guess I was too young and naive to think about failure. The most challenging point for me, though, was building a team (I call them family) that is as obsessed with the detail and customer service as I am. Scaling a small company into a sustainable one while sharing the same philosophy at every level was daring and at the same time vital for our identity as a provider.
From our testing, you have one of the best Support practices in the hosting industry (i.e. extremely fast response times). When did you initiate this strategy, and how do you feel it has helped your company grow?
This is one of the core pillars in our company’s philosophy and we are following it since the day we have launched. We truly believe that outstanding customer service and friendly technicians are one of the major reasons behind our rapid growth.
Can you share any Support Response time metrics \ figures? I.e. average response times etc.
We are advertising technical support response time at 15 minutes, but in fact - it is between 8 and 10. Each and every one of our technicians goes through a very detailed training,_ large part of which is focused on the understanding of a certain request, rapid keyboard typing and even optimizing every mouse click a team member takes when working on a case. We are a very speed-centric company, if I can put it that way.
What else do you think that sets you apart from your competitors?
If response times below 10 minutes alone is not setting us completely apart from the competition, we definitely stand out pretty high in other areas. We have an in-house built web firewall, with rules that are being daily updated and tested by a team dedicated to this operation only. As you know, with that much open source apps this is a must.
Another area we excel very much in, is the page load time - in the past year we have taken a lot of steps in that direction.
All our services are now SSD based, thus bringing more than 200% of page load time boost. In addition to that, we have introduced couple of different caching methods - out of the box and available for every service tier we provide - Facebook Flashcache, Memcached, APC, APCu and OpCache.
Our most recent innovation is the OptimumCache which literally takes all common files on a server, caches them in the RAM and a dedicated SSD drive, then serves them right away. I am sure not a single one of our competitors provide such a vast variety of caching systems.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges you face over the next couple of years?
years is to maintain the integrity of customer applications and compatibility while swapping technologies from single-server to a cloud based architecture. A lot of people out there are using applications meant to operate in a single-server environment and moving smoothly into a_ cloud based _environment is really a tackling challenge we are fully prepared to take.
Can you share any exciting plans you have for the company for 2016? i.e. do you have plans to introduce WordPress or other specialist hosting products?
The upcoming 2016 will be very exciting for our company. We have been building a very advanced, powerful and feature-rich cloud service for the past couple of months. We will start rolling it to the public by the end of Q1. Furthermore - yes, we will be launching a lot of new application specific packages, including WordPress. We have also established a lot of exciting new partnerships, which all our Customers will benefit from this year.