TL; DR: Reclaim Hosting’s mission to make technology accessible for educational institutions recently expanded to cloud services. The company emphasizes communication and collaboration with its customers, helping them make sense of tech trends and offering flexible pricing models. Viewing student data as something to protect rather than monetize, Reclaim sees its customers as partners in learning. And the pandemic’s challenges have only made its mission that much more relevant.
Technology is transforming education, but many educational institutions face big learning curves of their own when it comes to bringing cloud computing and the power of tech into their classrooms.
If an institution needs its own tech stack just to use open-source technologies for student projects, many schools would probably do without.
Reclaim Hosting bills itself as a more accessible option. To that end, the company has communicated closely with customers and sought to build an atmosphere of mutual learning and partnership, helping schools navigate new technologies and offering favorable pricing models.
“The relationship we have with our schools is very transparent,” said Lauren Hanks, Director of Operations at Reclaim Hosting. “That balance has been really cool to experience, experimenting alongside institutions.”
Staying Ahead of Hosting Trends
In the tech industry, updates and patching are natural parts of the software development life cycle, and Reclaim makes an effort to keep customers informed of any changes that could impact them. Rather than ask schools to gather their own information, Reclaim brings its customers guidance and strives to educate in ways that are practical for institutions.
It’s an approach that’s designed to meet schools where they are. Licensing and the costs of software can hit both educational institutions and web hosting services hard, so Reclaim has to manage these costs while also offering value.
Reclaim has found that, when it comes to technology, transparency and open communication work best, and, according to Lauren, this really sets the company apart from other budget-friendly web hosts. One example of this came when the company gave customers access to cPanel. Reclaim openly shared the reasoning behind the decision. The idea was to help customers make sense of cPanel and how to best leverage the site administration tool to allow for greater control of their online touchpoints.
“Even through the beginning of offering cPanel, we never came out and said ‘we’re offering a brand new thing,’” Lauren said. “cPanel is nothing new. We’re just bringing it into the classroom and making it affordable [while] bringing a good teacher alongside.”
Lauren told us this gives customers experimental dashboards to play around with. This also provides users with an opportunity to submit feedback — something Reclaim takes very seriously.
“We can have a one-to-one relationship where customers are saying, ‘This isn’t working.’ Then we can build a better solution together.”
Lauren believes that this is Reclaim’s true value proposition. And this direct line of communication with customers is very helpful whenever the market changes.
“If a pricing increase happens, for example, we can fall back on other things or pivot slightly,” Lauren said.
Competitive Pricing for a Competitive Landscape
Using a pay-as-you-go pricing model for its Reclaim Cloud product, the company only charges subscribers for their actual usage. Reclaim’s shared and managed hosting packages all have fixed prices. However, Reclaim Cloud gives schools that are using Reclaim Cloud as, say, a sandbox for nextgen applications can start slowly and expand with the service as needed.
Recently, Reclaim has rethought this model. The complexity of offering new services through Reclaim Cloud has the company studying the best way to help their customers budget for computing spend.
“For some of these containerized products that maybe are a little more bulky or unique, such as Jupyter Notebooks and things that need to run in other environments, Reclaim Cloud has been a cool way for us to think about sort of this pay-as-you-go model,” Lauren said. “And I think we’re still navigating that. Is this something that people want or are asking for? Or is it good on paper, but then when you’re talking to institutions that need to plan a budget, is that really realistic?”
Lauren told us that some larger organizations may benefit more from a fixed cost model that facilitates long-term budgetary planning — but individuals and small organizations may like the flexibility.
Jim Groom, Co-Founder of Reclaim Hosting, agrees. “If you can’t tell us what it’s going to cost, $10,000 versus $100,000, it’s a no-go. It’s still very hard when we’re talking to a budget office,” he said.
By frequently revisiting its pricing, Reclaim is working to stay relevant and deliver value.
A Core Belief in Education – and Mission
Reclaim targets primarily educational institutions and works with organizations that are moving their hosting away from in-house teams. The company also serves libraries, many of which have educational, literary, and other groups operating within their technological organizations. Libraries are increasingly becoming digital hubs in their communities.
Educational institutions start their projects within academic and administrative departments, but the limited availability of tech talent has complicated this strategy. Going all-in on free and open-source tools meant these organizations looked everywhere they could to manage costs and continue moving their technology forward.
Reclaim understands and believes in educational culture, which is how its goal of buying into the educational mission puts it in a position of helping these institutions through their challenges — whether that’s GDPR compliance or protecting student data.
“I do think there’s a bigger question to be asked about how far we can go with free before it either catches up to us or we’re selling more than just student data, and we’re giving away the farm,” Jim said. “When you’re a hosting company, what’s your responsibility to the sacredness of that data?”
This is Reclaim’s perspective on data monetization — something Jim said he is very proud of.
“We try and keep as much of that outside of the relationship,” he said. “They pay for a service, and that’s what they get. And there’s no additional extraction of information.”
From Hosting to Cloud: New Services and Strategies
The pandemic brought remote learning to the forefront in 2020 and 2021, with more education going online than ever before. As in-person classes return, the remote conference and classroom are here to stay.
Remote and hybrid learning present opportunities for educational institutions to reach more students and expand on their mission. Regardless of how learning changes, Reclaim wants to be there experimenting alongside its customers and helping them navigate the internet’s possibilities.
To this end, Reclaim is expanding its cloud services and communicating the benefits of the cloud for the classroom. Students and educators can benefit from open-source technologies and low-cost applications they can quickly spin up and down. Virtual conferencing technology is another support they offer for universities. As education changes, Reclaim is looking for the right technologies to help its customers make a difference.
“You reclaim the data you own, you take ownership of your space online,” Lauren said. “And that’s exactly what Reclaim Hosting is founded on.”