TL; DR: For nearly 20 years, Amir Golestan has grown his hosting company, Micfo, from his bedroom in Dubai to a global network of more than 40 datacenters. Providing high-end Infrastructure-as-a-Service to growing businesses around the world, Micfo emphasizes reliable performance, personable customer support, and a streamlined path to cost-effective growth in new markets. Amir shared with us his approach to service-oriented leadership, lessons learned when building vendor relationships, and how various industry trends shape how Micfo moves forward.
As so often happened in the early days of the web hosting industry, a tech-minded teenager began offering a variety of IT tasks in the late 1990s from the comfort of his bedroom. The 16-year-old, Amir Golestan, began with web and graphic design and quickly transitioned to domain registrations and web hosting.
Calling his entrance into the hosting industry “all accidental,” Amir had grown sick of the unreliable services he received from others and the impact of downtime on his business. What’s more, companies would take two or three business days to respond to his requests for help.
“Before long, I knew that this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I love the challenges and everything that comes with hosting administration.”
By 2008, Amir’s company, Micfo, was hosting more than 70,000 websites and employed roughly 200 engineering and support technicians. Back then, web hosting largely concentrated around dedicated servers and doing transactional, low-touch business with a large volume of customers.
However, a customer came along who needed more help. That’s when Amir realized the business potential of scaling operations alongside the company’s clients by providing more hands-on support and geographically diverse global network.
“The customer opened our eyes to a new business model that completely changed our direction and reshaped our road map,” he said. “We saw an opportunity where the industry had its main providers that focus on large, storage-centric datacenters in a few locations. We decided to do the exact opposite of that and focus on low-latency solutions and putting more micro-datacenters in a lot more locations.”
3 Hosting Advantages Micfo Promises Customers
As of October 2017, the Micfo network now spans 40 locations in 11 countries — and is still growing. Amir and the company transitioned the previously hardware-based infrastructure to more of what he called a software-defined network.
“Environments are highly customizable, and we can scale on a need-by-need basis,” he said. “Our focus is on building infrastructure that is shorter, faster, and closer: point-to-point connectivity is shorter, the technology moves faster than ever before, and a diverse range of locations provides companies with the option to be closer to their target audience and their market.”
Being able to market Micfo to different industries has been a boon for business, Amir said, adding that the company particularly resonates with solutions geared toward marketing and advertising technology platforms, Internet-of-Things innovations, virtual private networks, content delivery networks, and gamers.
1. Reliable Performance and Availability
Micfo measures itself and its infrastructure against several key performance indicators, or KPIs, to gauge company and customer accomplishments. Micfo guarantees the standard 99.9% network uptime, with 5% credits available to customers for every 45 minutes of downtime.
“You can’t really measure success if you don’t measure performance and availability,” Amir said. “Our responsibility, first and foremost, is making sure the businesses or websites our customers trusted Micfo with are up and running and operational.”
2. Responsive Around-the-Clock Support
No matter how Micfo architects its hosting platform, Amir said he knows that problems will arise — and that support technicians will be readily available to address the issue.
“If it’s technology, it breaks,” he said. “If someone says nothing breaks, well, good for them, but that’s not what we claim. In the unlikely event that something happens, not only are there multiple points that we can failover to, but we’re there to put their minds at ease.”
3. Streamlined Expansion and Reduced Costs
As Micfo worked to grow its network to span four continents, Amir realized how the company’s expansion could save customers time, money, and headaches. The company focuses on lowering customers’ total cost of ownership and has successfully helped them consolidate vendors.
“For a company to go into one market, they would have to deal with multiple vendors, providers, points of contacts, different time zones, different currencies, different invoices, and different teams of people,” he said. “There are so many moving pieces. We at Micfo have eliminated all of that.”
Micfo works with more than 200 partners to build, maintain, and support hosting infrastructure in 40 locations around the world.
“If tomorrow a company wanted to be live in Shanghai or Toronto or anywhere, they will have one point of contact, one invoice, one currency, one time zone, and one service standard to rely on,” Amir said.
Reacting to Industry Trends With Virtualization and Security
According to Amir, the company’s focus switched to edge computing and creating a viable platform that brought solutions closer to users, following the recent cloud boom.
“The shift that we’ve seen is the dependency on hardware and being local has shifted primarily into more of a virtual world,” he said, noting how customers have largely become more welcoming of the new technologies.
In the early days of Micfo, according to Amir, companies didn’t want to host their websites on shared environments. Customers only wanted dedicated servers, which he said introduced many points of failure.
“People seem generally more open to adopting virtual solutions and moving away from hardware-defined networks to software-defined products,” he said.
Amir said he has noticed a major emphasis on privacy and security similar to the evolution toward virtualization.
“There were obviously viruses and phishing scams and such going on back then, but today it’s on a much larger scale that impacts billions and billions of people,” he said. “Unless your infrastructure is built with security first, and security being the bedrock or foundation, I believe a lot of customers will have unanticipated vulnerabilities.”
Micfo’s Commitment to Managed Services and Servant Leadership
Noting that several web hosting terms can mean wildly different things to separate providers, Amir emphasized that Micfo doesn’t just pay lip service to managed services.
“The solutions really vary, but the one thing that doesn’t change for us as a company is our high-touch service,” he said. “Nothing is out of scope for us.”
Whether the customer opts for cloud, dedicated, or colocated hosting, Micfo handles day-to-day system administration and security monitoring, along with configuring weekly backups and disaster recovery solutions.
“If someone signs up with Micfo, we are building a relationship with them that will grow over time,” he said. “It really goes back to building a model that is agile and flexible and can best accommodate our customer needs.”
As Micfo’s Executive Director, Amir has a personal stake in ensuring his company delivers the responsive, friendly, and knowledgeable 24/7 support he promises.
“It’s leadership through example,” he said. “We have created an inclusive culture that even our leaders are here to serve first. As cliché as it sounds, we treat our customers’ businesses as if it is our own.”
Up Next: Network Expansion to Reach Brazil and South Africa
From 1999 to February 2015, Micfo ran all business through one location. After making the decision to expand the company’s global infrastructural footprint, Amir saw Micfo expand to more than 40 locations in slightly more than two years.
“This is our differentiator, enabling our customers to benefit from all that infrastructure,” he said. “We are very excited about our product road map and expansion plans. Not only are we expanding into all the Tier II and Tier III markets in the US, but we’re also getting into continents and markets that are typically very hard to reach.”
By the end of 2017 or early 2018, Amir said the company will launch servers in datacenters in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg to give Micfo a presence in every continent but Antarctica.
“That’s a milestone we are very proud of,” he said. “We are building the network fo the future and there are some exciting things coming that our customers will benefit from immensely.”