TL; DR: Built for people and businesses that oversee several high-performing websites, Cloud Sites is an ideal hosting solution for those who don’t want to deal with server configuration and maintenance. Liquid Web acquired the entire platform — the infrastructure, leaders, developers, and support technicians — from Rackspace in 2016 to better serve customers looking for hassle-free load balancing, redundancy, and scalability. Now that the dust has settled, Product Manager Jereme Hancock and the Cloud Sites team are gathering momentum behind revamped tools to help agencies and resellers effortlessly launch and manage successful client websites and businesses.
As a one-man web design company with 15 to 20 clients, Jereme Hancock needed to get work done quickly.
“It was about building the design and all of the fun creative stuff,” he said. “Dealing with the servers just slowed me down.”
In another life working on the Cloud Sites hosting support team, Jereme happened to be the agent who took the call from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The organization’s website was having trouble dealing with the growing traffic in advance of Groundhog Day. Understanding the value of hosting performance and reliable, personable support, Jereme and his coworkers worked diligently to save Groundhog Day.
Now with Liquid Web as the Product Manager of Cloud Sites, Jereme draws on both experiences to perfect a hosting platform geared toward design agencies, resellers, and anyone looking for well-supported and hassle-free hosting.
Cloud Sites blends shared hosting simplicity with the power of dedicated servers and reliability of cloud environments. Although the variety of comparisons can present a challenge for the sales and marketing teams, the unique platform is poised for growth as the team refocuses on creating tools that streamline business operations.
How the Close-Knit Cloud Sites Team Rebounded After Acquisition
Jereme described Cloud Sites as a startup-minded unit founded on “very much a cool idea someone had” for what he believes is one of the first cloud hosting products to hit the market.
As a foundational product offering under Rackspace, Cloud Sites grew to a 57-employee team by August 2016, when Liquid Web acquired the platform — including the infrastructure and the entire team. As part of the deal, Liquid Web kept the team in San Antonio and committed to hiring 43 more employees by 2020.
“With the addition of Cloud Sites, we further our mission to empower web professionals all over the world to create content and commerce without worry, free of problems, and devoid of even one bit of hesitation by providing absolutely flawless web hosting,” Liquid Web CEO Jim Geiger said in the announcement. “At Liquid Web, day-in and day-out our people stand behind the creators of content and commerce, and we’re going to continue to stand behind those businesses who rely on the web and cloud.”
The various hosting teams spent the better part of a year extricating the Cloud Sites product and customer base, which had become tightly integrated and interdependent with various Rackspace management, billing, and support infrastructures.
“Now that we’re past a lot of the hurdles that are inherent in acquisitions and migrations, we can start to ramp up our approach to new things,” Jereme said.
Cloud Sites Simplifies Redundancy, Autoscaling, and Client Management
Even though Jereme has worked on Cloud Sites for the past six years, he said the team is still working to fully explain the unique platform to the market.
“We’re an extremely powerful, scalable product that really is misunderstood to some degree,” he said. “It’s unlike anything I’ve been able to find in regard to shared hosting on steroids or multi-tenant environments.”
Cloud Sites combines powerful computing resources with a user-friendly control panel and premium managed services to appeal to those agencies, resellers, and organizations looking to deploy powerful websites and environments without worrying about server maintenance.
“You end up with a load-balanced, clustered, high-performance, redundant, and scalable infrastructure that would be much more expensive if you tried to section it out and do yourself,” Jereme said. “You’re paying Honda Civic prices, but you’re getting a Ferrari.”
The various PHP nodes and clusters contribute to the platform’s redundancy, one of Jereme’s favorite aspects of Cloud Sites.
“If one portion of the environment goes down, we don’t miss a beat, unlike a VPS or dedicated server,” he said.
Appealing to Target Audiences by Removing Hosting Headaches
Although most hosting services include the cPanel or Plesk control panel, Liquid Web and Cloud Sites collaborated on a proprietary administrative portal that emphasizes efficiency and usability without sacrificing intensity or productivity.
“I’ve always pushed really hard in the past that I feel like a good majority of our customers appreciate the simplicity of our product way more than they appreciate the power they don’t necessarily even realize they’re taking advantage of,” he said.
Design Agencies Can Focus on Workflows
As soon as customers log into the Cloud Sites control panel, they’ll see options to immediately create websites and databases. That resonates with small to medium web studios, according to Jereme, which often sell hosting services as a byproduct of sorts to accompany the agency’s website design or brand concept.
“Something like Cloud Sites really allows those types of customers to concentrate on the application and not concern themselves with upgrading some software component on the server,” he said. “Server management is a big time constraint.”
Jereme said when he did client work, it “was all about selling that next design.” Hosting and support were residual components that occasionally got in the way.
“It sounds cliché, but you’ll just be happier hosting with Cloud Sites because you won’t have to deal with the frustrations that inherently come along with IT,” he said. “You can focus on the work you’re good at and the work that meets your profit needs.”
Resellers Can Concentrate on Customer Support
Resellers can white-label the Cloud Sites control panel so their customers can access resource usage analytics and FTP accounts, among other components and tools to run a successful hosting company.
“The whole goal I have for the product is to make our customers’ lives happy, and one of the ways to do that is to make their customers’ lives happier,” Jereme said.
He mentioned Laughing Squid as one of the company’s largest resellers. Laughing Squid resells Cloud Sites and email services with a focus on bloggers and the WordPress platform.
“For them, it’s easy,” Jereme said. “They can split up our product however they want, resell it, and take advantage of the unlimited resources, redundancy, and all sorts of different things.”
Cloud Sites Team Reinvesting in New Tools for Customers’ Businesses
According to Jereme, the recent Cloud Sites release of a refined and integrated backup system, coupled with a beta version of Node.js, signaled the end of the post-acquisition transition period.
“We’ve got our feet back under us,” he said. “We’re still a very close-knit family within the product, and I can tell you we’re constantly looking at what we should do to make our product better.”
The new system for backups is a service Jereme is especially proud of, given how the user-friendly application integrates into the control panel and filled a gap in the platform’s featureset. Cloud Sites customers can enjoy free backups on one website for a year, or pay to cover additional sites.
“Especially with our customer base, we have to remember they’re running a business,” he said. “They have clients who in turn have needs, as well. We need to provide tools for all of that.”