TL; DR: Built by developers, for developers, Vivio Technologies grew out of two friends’ frustrations with finding expert hosting and knowledgeable support for their ColdFusion applications. Co-Founder, CFO, and COO Mark Keymer gave us a candid look at how the company started and continues to compete with large-scale global competitors. //
Jordan Michaels and Mark Keymer never meant to start a web hosting company. The longtime friends were trying to build a business around Jordan’s marketing web applications but were having trouble finding a service provider that could work with ColdFusion.
“We hosted at Place A and had problems, then we moved it to Place B and had problems, then Place C… I forget exactly how many times we moved it,” Mark said, remembering Jordan occasionally emailing support agents the exact commands to run on the server that would fix a particular issue.
The pair eventually decided to host themselves on a cable connection at Jordan’s house. He vented about and shared his experiences within ColdFusion community forums and suddenly found dozens of other programmers in the same predicament — and all wanting Jordan and Mark to host their applications.
And so, Vivio Technologies was born. Since 2003, the company has grown to offer a nuanced platform full of various shared, virtual, and dedicated hosting options — along with the technical expertise and support to help developers scale, regardless of the languages and software programs they use.
“We want to be the hosting company that we, ourselves, always wanted when we were developers,” Mark said. “Our goal is to help give expertise to people to help them grow and thrive.”
Growing Through Virtualized and Secure ColdFusion Environments
Vivio started with what Mark described as a “super simple” shared hosting server, even though it wasn’t ideal for the ColdFusion programmers.
“At the time, dedicated servers were the only secure way to run ColdFusion,” he said. “With shared hosting, you could go and do pretty much anything you want on that server because you basically run ColdFusion as the root user. There was no caging people or anything like that.”
Fortunately, server virtualization was an emerging technology that enabled a server to be split into distinct, secure environments. Vivio Technologies partnered with FreeVPS, a Linux-based virtualization system that’s part of the H-Sphere control panel from Positive Software (PSOFT).
“We were one of the first companies to offer ColdFusion hosting in a virtual environment,” Mark said. “We started with the BlueDragon CFML engine, which worked well and helped address a lot of the concerns with ColdFusion.”
The company, which got its name from the word vitality, also made strides with customers by helping them manage the technical aspects of their environments.
“We knew how to deal with ColdFusion servers and how to help manage them,” Mark said. “A lot of times, developers create applications in the language of their choice, but they don’t necessarily know how to handle the systems and administrative parts.”
Developer-Driven Support and Backups Deliver Value to Customers
According to Mark, Vivio Technologies makes its mark by offering full-service plans that include daily and weekly backups by default.
“I think that’s something that’s really overlooked unless a customer has gone through an experience where they’ve needed to rely on their backups,” he said. “At that point, it becomes important because they usually didn’t have any.”
Before 2016, the company retained nightly backups for 10 days; daily backups are now stored for two weeks, and weekly copies held for six weeks. Vivio’s partnership with R1Soft enables customers to have full control over backups and restorations.
“A lot of people just assume that the company has their data, and it’ll be safe forever,” he said.
On the customer and technical support fronts, Vivio offers three plans: fundamental, managed, and extended. Fundamental support covers the setup, firewall, monitoring, 24/7 assistance, and 100% uptime guarantee, while the managed service includes best-effort support for third-party software, along with assistance for system security and PCI compliance. Extended support entails third-party hardware installation, support, and server management.
“Since a lot of our clientele is developers, their problems aren’t usually simple things,” Mark said. “It’s not the stuff you’d get answered in a typical Tier 1 chat or phone call.”
Features, Pricing, and Marketing: Finding a Niche in a Crowded Industry
For the longest time, according to Mark, Vivio Technologies only hosted customers on Linux-based operating systems.
“Jordan is a huge Linux fan,” he said with a laugh. “We kept having people who would call up and ask to run their ColdFusion on Windows, and I had to convince him it was a good move. Now, about half of our virtualization is in Windows.”
Vivio Technologies has expanded its product portfolio, in large part, to customer requests, Mark said, in addition to staying abreast of trends in the marketplace.
“Some things we don’t necessarily do because one person asks, but we’ll add products if there is a lot of interest in it,” he said. “Things we see out in the hosting world, we’ll see if we can work toward having it and gauge what it would take to get there.”
Vivio aims to make its hosting services all-inclusive, which Mark said can be difficult to market effectively — the company is more expensive and better supported than the ultra-economical options but doesn’t have the name recognition and reputation of high-end, product-specific hosts or Amazon Web Services.
“The whole industry kind of boggles my mind, having this kind of divergence,” he said. “There are all kinds of things to consider when it comes to marketing, pricing, and all that. It’s fascinating what organizations decide to do, why they do it, and how we need to try to position ourselves.”
Vivio Adapts to Changing Tech and Running WordPress at Speed
Although the company’s signature ColdFusion hosting service helped Vivio Technologies find its niche and grow, Mark said he and Jordan recognize the technology is waning. Now, capitalizing on the rise of WordPress is the company’s biggest challenge and opportunity.
“That’s one of the biggest growth factors in the industry,” he said. “We’ve seen that shift, and we’re working to adapt to it.”
The Vivio team is nearing completion of a revamped Velocity Hosting Platform that optimizes both hardware and software configurations for quicker performance.
“People make these great things online. They can be cool, but if they’re not optimized, they can bog things down,” Mark said. “We’re trying to use both hardware and software solutions to help these poor plugins and websites run faster.”
The company will launch the infrastructure with a WordPress-focused hosting solution, according to Jordan, who said Vivio Technologies will adapt the platform for more generic servers and integrate many of the improvements elsewhere in the company’s hosting stack.
“We won’t be able to utilize all the caching layers that we’ve developed for the Velocity WordPress product, but the platform will still be dramatically faster than almost everything on the market currently,” Jordan said.