Interview with Thierry Tatin, Datacenter Director for PHPNET
A French company dedicated to serving its local customer base, PHPNET has a customer base of 15,000 with over 50,000 sites on their own servers and 30,000 hosted domains. It prides itself on developing a close relationship with its customers. We talked in-depth with their datacenter director, Thierry Tatin, to learn more about this web hosting company located in Grenoble, the capital of the French Alps.
HA: Hi! Thanks for taking the time to interview with us. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you came to be the datacenter director for PHPNET?
The company was founded by a Thibaud Grangier in Paris in 2002. In 2008, he decided to move the company to Grenoble and build the company's first data center in the Alps, and our headquarters have remained there ever since.
With my engineering background, I was put in charge of building the second datacenter last year. I am responsible for infrastructure as well as the management and security of both datacenters. I monitor and supervise the systems and the network with the rest of the team to ensure the proper functioning and compliance with the highest datacenter standards.
HA: Can you give me a bit of background about the history of the company?
Thibaud Grangier, the founder of PHPNET, started learning about IT at the age of 12. He quickly learned PHP, later giving this name to his company. He started out by testing the ability of his personal computers to host websites and hosting free sites of private individuals on his personal computer for more than four years.
Originally, PHPNET was an association while Thibaud was still a high school student. Later, it became a full-fledged company. Today it's a team of 15, including developers, webmasters, system administrators and network and computer technicians.
HA: You are a French company. Is your market mainly in France? Why did you choose this market?
As a company with its headquarters and datacenters located in Grenoble, France, we chose to concentrate on the French market. Our main priority is to preserve our relationship with our customers and maintain our French identity. We also strive to maintain a personal relationship with our customers. As a small company with 15 employees and a customer base of 15,000, we are in a good position to do this.
Our strength is our proximity to our customers, who are mainly French, but we also have French-speaking customers in Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada.
HA: Tell me a bit about your different offerings and how they serve your different audiences.
Our audience is split into two: 50% of our offerings are for personal use and the other 50% are for professional use.
We have 5 different product offerings. I'll go into detail for each one:
- Shared hosting – Shared hosting is mainly for customers who have blogs or sites that wish to showcase their products or services.
- Premium hosting – Premium hosting is for online shops or sites with a large amount of traffic. We manage the server for this type of customer so that they can focus on selling. We have specifically designed this solution with an interface so that our customers can benefit from simple managed support that is only available with PHPNET. No technical expertise is required.
- Premium dedicated servers – In the case of a premium dedicated server, we have the same interface as the Premium hosting offering, but in this case the customer doesn't need technical and expertise skills.
- VPS – Virtual Private Servers are for customers with very high traffic who need their own server but want a less expensive solution than a dedicated server. It's a part of a private server. Gaming customers, for example, may want to install their own application on a VPS server.
- Dedicated servers – The customer is completely responsible for their server and its security. We don’t have the password or login. This is great for customers such as government agencies or research labs who want full control and to have their own private server.
For each of these offerings, we have online storage and backup with our DrivinCloud interface, which we've developed in-house.
HA: How is the French market different than other markets?
Our customers want to be in close contact with us, and we've provided that constant communication since the very beginning of our relationship. Since we are geographically close, we can provide this. They don't often have time and resources to manage their servers, so we strive to offer them the support that they need.
We have a hotline that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our hotline is free because we feel there shouldn't be a time restriction for customer support.
We work very hard to be there for our customers, and we've found that they really appreciate the close relationship that we've built with them.
HA: What are the future plans for PHPNET?
We're proud to be a web hosting company that contributes to the development of renewable electricity. In keeping in line with our mission as an eco-friendly company, we have a renewable electricity contract with our electric provider, GEG (Gaz Électricité de Grenoble). We've also installed air-conditioning systems with a free cooling system, which allow tremendous savings of energy, especially in the winter.
We donate our old equipment to an association here which offers workshops such as how to recycle obsolete electrical and electronic equipment.
We want to continue to be environmentally responsible. We hope that this will evolve into larger projects in the future.
HA: How would you describe your typical customer? Who are some of your biggest customers?
We have two types of customers: individuals, either bloggers or those with a personal website; and professionals with online shops who need speed and high performance. We have a lot of customers with online shops because we have an offer that fits perfectly with their needs. In addition, we also have a lot of customers who are webmasters, web agencies, and small businesses.
We also host websites such as the Ministry of Defense, the National Center for Scientific Research and the National Institute of Audiovisual.
HA: Where are your headquarters and datacenters located?
Our offices and two datacenters are in Grenoble in the French Alps.
HA: Can you describe the company culture? How many employees do you have?
Our team of 15 is a dynamic and close-knit team with an atmosphere similar to a family business.
One of our most important values is open communication with our work colleagues. We feel that this is very important and contributes to a positive work environment.
HA: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers at Hostadvice?
PHPNET prides itself on not using any public hosting platform to ensure the highest levels of security, simplicity and independence. If you are using an open-source CMS, it's very important to regularly updates your CMS, whether you are using WordPress, Joomla, Prestashop, or any other CMS. This will prevent any future hacks. Also, save frequently to keep different versions of your site and avoid having to back it up every day by instead overwriting the previous version. We're always here to advise and support our users with any concern or questions they may have.
We want to thank HostAdvice for having contacted us for this interview, and your time. It was a pleasure.