Lumous: A small group of like minded individuals offering Cloud Hosting

Thu, 28th November 2013, 17:07

Lumous, a relatively new startup in the world of Cloud Hosting, describes itself as a ‘small group of like minded individuals’, and at HostJury, we like to think that means something. In an industry increasingly driven towards massive acquisitions and conglomerated webhosting titans of tech, the flexibility and creativity of smaller teams is something to appreciate. We spoke with Kris to learn a little bit more about Lumous, and what they bring to the table.

Q) On its website, Lumous is described as a company dedicated to
building ‘truly amazing products.’ At first glance, there’s a pretty impressive suite of products available for such a new company. Could you
 give us an overview of what’s on offer with Lumous?

Kris) Our core service is our Compute Instance – this is a KVM virtual machine that runs within a highly-available (HA) cloud. That means if a server goes down, the compute instance is booted up immediately on another server. In cases of planned maintenance, we are able to move a customer’s compute instance while it’s still running (i.e. not requiring a reboot). The rest of our products our built on top of our own compute cloud – Our shared web hosting service, simply called Web Hosting, is made up of lots of relatively small Compute Instances, and the same goes for our email service Lumous Mail.

Our CDN & DNS services are built around OnApp’s federated cloud. I would say the most important offering that we have, which happens to be free, is our included full management services from our engineering team. That team is made up of developers and system operations specialists. We can really do anything: Design/Deploy advanced replicated databases, or even backport a patch from Drupal to fix an immediate site issue.

Q) Tell us a bit about the history of Lumous. Did it arise from an earlier enterprise or is it a new creation entirely?

Kris) Lumous is a brand new entity that was formed in June 2012. The Hosting & Cloud Industry as a whole seems to be undergoing a massive consolidation effort, and we saw an opportunity for a hands-on provider like ourselves to be successful.

Q) And you yourself? What got you into hosting, and how did that leadyou to Lumous?

Kris) I got my start as a freelance developer building web apps, primarily in ruby. In the early days trying to deploy a ruby app, let alone make it scale or be fast, was quite difficult. This was long before Heroku or Ruby Passenger, so this forced me learn that side of development – which now they call DevOps.

From there, I spent some time at an Enterprise Managed Service Provider working with startups and large organizations to design their production environments. This was a fascinating job, because each customer had a completely different stack and a completely different use case. This diversity forced me to not just learn, but become an expert in, everything from MySQL/Postgres, to Hadoop, MongoDB, Node.js, nginx, you name it. And the scale of some of these deployments was simply mind blowing – we would expose race conditions that no normal user would ever see.

The biggest thing I took away from that experience was understanding the value of mature software. While there are a lot of really cool new products out there, and we use quite a few internally, knowing when and how to use them is absolutely critical to a successful deployment.

Q) We like to get a feel for the internals of the companies we profile. Tell us about the human landscape of Lumous, and how you’d
 characterize its corporate philosophy.

Kris) Currently we’re a small team of developers & engineers – we have no marketing or sales department, and the same people who build new features, and maintain our infrastructure fulfill each support ticket.

You may think that would be difficult to scale, but because our team is so knowledgeable and is able to spot potential issues early, we’re able to cut the number of support requests down to a fraction of what normal hosting providers deal with. I fully expect us to have a sales and marketing department at some point, but I always want the customer interaction to be without engineers; I really think that sets us apart.

Q) Looking forward, the growth and expansion of the world of hosting
is something we’re intimately concerned with. What direction do you see the industry heading in?

For “Cloud” providers like us, who have really commoditized cpu/memory/storage (we may package it different and add other services, but that’s really all we’re doing) – we’re going to see:

  • Better hardware & higher uptimes
  • Lower prices
  • Better tools for managing instances, and deployment processes 

This leads into questions 6… 

Q) For low-end providers, and cheap shared hosting, we’re running into a situation where a lot of the major players in the market are now consolidating into a few big players (the EIG, GoDaddy, United, etc). Historically, in any market, this leads to:
1. Degradation in quality of services, both in hardware and in support
2. Higher, or at least stagnated, prices
In the same vein, what are your thoughts about the consolidation of brands by the big names of hosting, companies like Endurance 
International and GoDaddy? How important is Lumous’ independence? 

Kris) Generally, less competition in a marketplace hurts the consumer. I completely understand why an organization like EIG is consuming smaller providers, they saw where their industry was going: super low margins with high capital expenditures to keep up with their customer’s increase in resource consumption. For Lumous, we’ve set some pretty strong principles for not only how interact with our customer, but also how we plan to grow. Those principles are what separate us from the competition.

Q) What are some of your greatest successes, at Lumous or elsewhere?

Kris) At this point yes, I think Lumous will be my greatest success, but one and a half years in is a bit too soon to classify it…

Q) On that note, could you share with us a particular failure that
you feel you learned from? What did it teach you?

Kris) In college, I built a software application for Universities and Colleges. The product worked great and we had well known schools buy it (years later, many still use it…). But ultimately it failed, not because the product didn’t do what it was suppose to, and not because there wasn’t a market for it, but because I didn’t fully understand the industry and what it takes to go through the RFP and sales process.

Q) Finally, what’s on the horizon for Lumous, short term and long?

Kris) We have a really cool new product coming out next month, plus a bunch of new features for our existing product suite.

This new product is intended to make it easier & faster for users to get their apps online with a dedicated virtual machine, and sits somewhere between a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and a cloud virtual machine.

A little more about Lumous

Based in beautiful Portland, Oregon, Lumous is run by a small team of like-minded individuals who have a deep passion for building truly amazing products.

Elastic, Highly-Available Compute Cloud to power your mobile and web applications. Delivering exceptionally consistent performance and reliability with hard resource limits, and intelligent virtual machine placement.