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Rochen Hosting. Sharing what's right, what's new, & what can be better!

Wed, 9th October 2013, 16:33

Rochen Performance Hosting is another long-standing webhosting solution, having been founded in July of 2000. Since then, they’ve diversified, delving into the realm of content management systems like Joomla and Wordpress. We wanted to take a look at the inner workings of a company with a niche such as this, as well as offer the top staff of the company an opportunity to explore and respond to some of the persistent questions that have followed their support team and its sometimes contentious relationships with customers. Their answers might just be illuminating.

 

Q) Rochen has a fairly long history. What’s the origin story of the company, and who were the key players? How has Rochen most significantly changed and grown as time has passed?

Chris Adams: Rochen originally started over 10 years ago as a web design company that provided hosting services to our clients. We quickly discovered that we were much better at hosting than the design side of things and decided to focus on that full time. We started by renting a couple of dedicated servers and grew from there. In 2006 we took the decision to begin buying and managing our own hardware. Today we have hundreds of Rochen owned and managed servers deployed in co-location facilities in both the US and UK. Our focus is very much on being a "go to" services company for small to medium sizes businesses.

 

Q) How has the continuing rise of content management systems most affected the company?

Ben Johnson: CMS's have always been a part of our business, a big part; it’s tough to say exactly how it has affected us since it’s a major part of what we’ve done from the start.

It has provided some unique opportunities to tune our platform and create our own in-house tools (Joomla! Utilities) to assist customers.  By having an intimate understanding of Joomla!, we have been able to bring this tool, at no cost, to our customers.

Joomla utilities helps our customers with Migration to Rochen from any other host, conduct full installations, and provides a single view of all Joomla! instances for our reseller customers. To round it out, it has a wealth of security features in in it as well.

 

Q)  On that note, what are the key challenges facing a hosting provider with a focus in CMS like Joomla and Wordpress? 

Ben Johnson: Security! CMS’ by their community driven nature, are on a rapid release cycle. These releases often contain a security patch or update. Many times the general consumer doesn't follow the same update/patch cycle as the CMS project itself. In other words, they are left exposed to the hacker elements.

This is definitely complicated by the fact that most major CMS platforms have vibrant 3rd-party extension and theme communities. We've implemented a number of solutions to minimize the risk for our clients, including our commercial Web Application Firewall solution that focuses on negating most exploits as soon as they're publicly available. It also prevents a number of more generic attacks, which are commonly used when a public exploit isn't available.

 

Q) What are some of the company’s failures? How has Rochen changed and grown in the face of these?

Chris Adams: I wouldn't say necessarily failures, but we have learned a lot regarding the infrastructure side of things over the years. One example would be when we moved into our original data center space in the US we opted for 110V power and it didn't provide the power density we needed to grow redundantly even in a 42U rack. Today all of our racks are a custom 50U design with multiple 208V circuits served from redundant A+B power infrastructure. They key thing to take away here is "redundancy" as that's what we focus a lot of our time on – everything from power and network connectivity upwards.

 

Q) On the other hand, what are Rochen’s greatest successes? What is the Rochen team proudest of having accomplished?

Chris Adams: I am extremely proud of our Rochen Vault managed backup service and the tight integration it has with our customer control panel. Our launching in multiple global data centers was also a big step for us. I think our greatest success with our new upcoming offering is yet to come though. 

 

Q) Describe, if you will, the company culture of Rochen. Is there a certain structure or philosophy you feel contributes to Rochen’s success?

Chris Adams: Rochen has a fairly flat operating structure. We have four main operational groups that are managed by talented leaders reporting directly to myself. These groups are Support, Systems Engineering, Sales & Marketing and the Enterprise Solutions Group. Our culture at Rochen is very much one of openness, honesty and getting the job done. One way we build our culture is through our annual company retreat. Last year this was held in Napa Valley, CA and in previous years has been held in Las Vegas, NV.

 

Q) Rochen’s reviews on HostJury speak highly of its hosting capabilities. However, a trend we've noticed both on HostJury and elsewhere is the impression that Rochen’s customer support team is difficult to work with, and at times, hostile. Has this been an area of concern for Rochen’s support department?

Tom Canavan: This is one of the most important questions, I believe, that HostJury has asked us in this interview. Most often we hear customer service complaints in the case of abuse tickets, an example of abuse being an account hosting a phishing page or launching a malicious attack against other websites.

Security is of the upmost importance to us, so our policies have been very rigid and our responses direct in these cases. Unfortunately, this can lead to a breakdown in communications between our customers and staff. It is obviously frustrating and stressful for any customer when an issue like this arises.

While we must protect the integrity of our infrastructure and our other customers’ websites, we recognize we can do a better job in supporting those who have been hacked or are under attack. Our support team has recently taken steps to improve our customers’ perception by changing a few of our methods by which we handle abuse cases.

 

Q) What has Rochen done in recent times to change or maintain its customer support?

Tom Canavan: Very recently, (October 2013), we have made a number of significant changes in an effort to improve the customer experience in this area. These are in the process of being rolled out. As a concrete example, where an individual email account has been compromised we will simply lock that email account as opposed to the overall hosting account as we have in the past.

Rochen is always looking at how customers perceive service. Customer satisfaction is not only a concern for our support department; it has the full attention of all of our executive management. Lastly we encourage our customers to rate each support transaction (available in the ticket) and provide us the feedback we need to know how we can do better.

Abuse cases are always a challenging area for hosting providers. We continue to work to improve the customer experience in this area while not compromising security.

 

Q) There are many hosting solutions available on the market today. Could you tell us what truly sets Rochen apart from its competitors- what makes it the solution to choose?

Ben Johnson: Our relationship with the Joomla project. Valuable and professional extra’s like Joomla Utilities, our Rochen vault backups, our commercial Web Application Firewall, and a solid technical and development team. We monitor hundreds of data points on all of our servers and networking gear. This is vital to our uptime as well as our clients. For instance, if a hard drive is in a degraded [failing] state we’re alerted and our 24x7x365 data center staff takes immediate actions to ensure our customers websites and hardware stays up and running.

In addition, we have spent a great deal of time architecting the best solution for speed. We strive for the best performance possible without hindering clients. 

 

Q) What’s in the future for Rochen? Where is the firm headed- towards vertical growth, or is it branching out to encompass new features and new opportunities?

Tom Canavan: Rochen has been around a long time, and as you may know, we are the official host for the Joomla.org project. Our roots are in the open source communities and we continue to expand into the communities we serve.

In regards to our vertical growth in the CMS market, we have a new set of hosting services on our roadmap designed to better serve the open source communities of Joomla!, WordPress, Drupal and Magento.

Branching out however is on our roadmap as well.  We have been in development for about two years on a new Enterprise Hosting Service, targeted at the Small and Medium businesses that fall between 1 and 999 employees.  While we can’t divulge all the product details yet, we can say we worked very closely with one of our partners (VMWare® ) on the development of this new offering.

The new hosting service will allow those who need a more enterprise grade of service, a new degree of capability, uptime and, scalability. This type of solution was only previously available at a very high investment in capitol costs as well as the need for a strong technical team.

To meet this demand, we have founded a new division within Rochen, called the Enterprise Solutions Group. The mission of this group is to serve the needs and demands of the Small and Medium enterprise clients.  Everyone in this group has an extensive background in the Enterprise IT and Enterprise business space as well as a deep understanding of the needs of this type of customers' business problems.

 

More About the Participants and Rochen

Christopher Adams - Founder & CEO


profile picture of Chris Adams

As a veteran of the web hosting industry, Chris serves as Rochen's Chief Executive Officer, a role he has held since founding the company. He is responsible for the overall day-to-day management of all functions within the business including sales, customer support and operations. Rochen is net cash flow positive, debt free and is currently doubling revenues every year. Chris credits Rochen's phenomenal success to the precision focus it places on customer support and investing in the best possible infrastructure. He took a critical decision early on that Rochen would never outsource support and would own and manage all of its infrastructure instead of simply renting servers from a larger data center. 

 

Ben Johnson

profile picture of Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is quite literally a guru when it comes to server management and he holds many industry recognised qualifications including the prestigious Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification. Ben has over a decade of systems engineering experience behind him. He is directly responsible for ensuring that Rochen's servers are kept secure and continue humming along smoothly. Most recently Ben has been involved in planning for the launch of our private data center suite in Dallas, TX keeping redundancy in mind at every stage. Ben lives in the beautiful city of Kelowna in BC, Canada with his wife Natasha. 

 

Tom Canavan

 

The Company 

Through nearly 10 years of experience in the hosting industry we have learnt what works and what does not. Rochen wants our customers to be able to leverage on our significant expertise. Moreover, we are a company that is completely debt free and net cash flow positive. We understand that in these exceptional economic times customers are looking for a financially stable provider with a proven track record.

 

 

Rochen Web Hosting