On starting a cloud consultancy

So I’m sat in our new office in the Northern Quarter, surrounded by some familiar faces, who I’ve not seen together for a good few years. It all feels a bit strange.

After a three-year break from the industry following me selling Melbourne Server Hosting, despite being adamant I’d never get back into hosting, I decided the time was right to get back into the world of server hosting…

Whilst I’d not been an active participator in the industry during my non-compete period (why would I?!), I’ve watched the industry from afar and come to the conclusion that servers-in-a-datacentre haven’t really changed that much. It never has really, apart from slight feature improvements, energy efficiency improvements etc.

But that’s missing the point. The way we’re using servers is where the massive change is happening, and we’re starting to see tin in a datacentre as a commodity.

I’m referring, of course, to ‘the cloud’. The term has always meant different things to different people, and is often full of hyperbole and marketing crap.

While I’ve been away, ‘the cloud’ has matured massively and is clearly the future of hosting. In this case I’m mainly referring to the massive move towards hosting on large-scale public clouds like AWS and Google Cloud Platform for hosting websites and applications.

I spent a lot of time chatting with Rob (former technical director at Melbourne). He was now working at Datacentred, building one of the UK’s largest Openstack and Ceph implementations, and really being massively pro the DevOps philosophy which completely blew me away with its awesomeness!

The most striking point that occurred to me was the complexity of public cloud platforms, and just how easy it is for people to misunderstand them or use them incorrectly, leading to a surprise issue later down the line resulting in an unexpected outage, or even worse, irrevocable data loss.

The knowledge gap seems to grow as things get ever more complex, so even someone very technical can find themselves in too deep when faced with the range of services, orchestration tools, monitoring tools, and caveats that are part of a large-scale public cloud platform.

So that’s why it seemed like the right time to assemble a team to start a cloud consultancy, as opposed to starting ‘just another hosting company’.

I spoke to some of my old team from Melbourne, who’d all dispersed in different directions after I’d left. Rob agreed to become our technical director and Luan and Sim agreed to join me too. Along the way we picked up an Amy who I’d never worked with before, but was thrilled to be part of Steamhaus as she’d heard what sort of culture I’d built at Melbourne. It’s funny how treating staff with respect means that people want to work with you isn’t it?

So here we are, a small but perfectly formed team ready to get stuck in and help businesses embrace the cloud.

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