09-17-13 | Blog Post

Great Ideas Win

Blog Posts
Online Tech Co-CEO Mike Klein
Online Tech Co-CEO Mike Klein

Opportunities are all around us – and the opportunity to get distracted is boundless.

One of our core values is “Great Ideas Win” – but which great ideas should win?

How do we judge what is a great idea that we should implement and what is simply a good idea – but not fit for our business?

In one word – “Focus.”

At Online Tech, our jobs as Co-CEOs is to be clear about who we are, what we do, and our target customers.  The old adage applies – “if you don’t know where you’re going, then any path will get you there.” The same is true in the hosting business. We believe we need to articulate who we are & who we are not as a company so everyone on the team knows where we are going.

If you don’t know what you do, you can lose a lot of money chasing the latest opportunity that comes by your doorstep.  On the other hand, when you know who you are & what you do, it’s a lot easier to say NO to a distraction that can take you off course. It’s also easier to filter between interesting ideas and the great ideas that help further our mission, purpose and achieving our goals.

In Online Tech’s case, our focus is serving mid-market companies that need enterprise-level hosting solutions for their mission critical applications. We’ve designed our cloud computing solutions around those target customers – private and managed multi-tenant cloud computing built on enterprise-grade EMC VMAX SANs, Dell blade servers and a high performance 80 GB SAN fabric.

Because many of our clients face regulatory and security issues, we’ve designed our cloud to meet very stringent healthcare (HIPAA), credit card (PCI), financial (SSAE 16 & SOC 2) and EU privacy (Safe Harbor) audit requirements.  We’re the first cloud hosting provider to encrypt all cloud data directly in the SAN at the hardware level, leaving no data in our clouds unencrypted.

Bold choice?  Perhaps – and perhaps not.  By making these choices, we inherently decided to say NO to other opportunities that distract us from who we are and the market we serve.

Amazon and Rackspace have seen great growth in public clouds – delivering compute as a utility for the lowest possible cost. An interesting opportunity, but a potentially costly distraction for Online Tech. Yes, the market for low-cost public cloud is much larger than for mission-critical, compliant cloud computing – but our target market isn’t looking for cheap – they’re looking for reliability, availability and security.

Fortune 500 companies also continue to expand their data center footprints, but do we want our sales team spending time chasing projects from GM and Ford? Absolutely not. Interesting opportunities – yes – but highly distracting.

The value we deliver to mid-market companies with our managed hosting is so much greater than the value we can deliver by selling our entire data center inventory as wholesale colocation to Fortune 500 companies.

So when our product development team suggested that we fully encrypt all of our cloud servers – not just provide clouds, but multi-tenant clouds as well, it was quickly recognized as a great idea.

Why? Because we know who we are and the customers we serve. Encryption isn’t cheap – but it solves a huge security problem that most of our clients can’t afford to solve by themselves. They need encryption of data at rest with no performance penalties to meet regulatory compliance and security requirements.  We provide this capability much more cost effectively for our entire customer base than any single client can do by themselves.

Did we give up on the low-cost public cloud market by adopting this great idea?  NO.  Because we weren’t going there anyways.

That’s how we set the context in which Great Ideas Win at Online Tech.

More of Mike Klein’s CEO Voices Articles:
15 Minutes a Day – Our Investment in a Customer and Results-Oriented Culture
At Online Tech, the entire company starts every day with a 5-minute all-hands meeting. We review the results of the previous 24 hours, flag any outstanding customer issues and opportunities, and share critical updates across the company. The goal is … Continue reading →

The Journey to Articulate Online Tech’s Purpose: “Exceptional People Delivering Exceptional Experiences”
About a year ago, we started the journey to articulate Online Tech’s purpose. I’m a big fan of Verne Harish and his book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” and we’ve been practicing most of those habits at Online Tech since I … Continue reading →

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