Hetzner Online provides dedicated hosting, shared web hosting, virtual private servers, managed servers, domain names, SSL certificates, storage boxes, and cloud solutions. We’ve talked with Fitz Christian, Hetzner Online’s Head of Marketing about the company, the services it offers, and the future of the web hosting industry.
Could you please tell us about the history of the company? What pushed you to enter the web hosting market?
The success story of Hetzner Online began in 1997. Martin Hetzner, founder and CEO of Hetzner Online, rented servers in the USA in order to sell affordable web hosting space to German customers. With this idea, he founded his own web hosting company in Gunzenhausen, Germany. But we wanted to use our own hardware and maintain it with our own team, so in 2001, we opened our first self-operated data center in Nuremberg, Germany.
In 2008, we completed construction on the first data center in Falkenstein, Germany, which is now Hetzner Online’s largest data center park. This was the first data center that we built using our own design. A short time later, we built and opened a second data center park in Nuremberg, and moved our operations from our first Nuremberg data center there.
We have expanded those two data center parks over the years and started operations at an additional location in Helsinki, Finland in 2018. This was our first international location. It was an obvious decision since we had already invested in a 1,100 km long submarine fiberoptic cable from Rostock to Helsinki.
Hetzner Online specializes in web hosting technologies. You already provide a wide range of services for your customers. Do you have any plans for new services?
We focus on what we do best, providing good-value/affordable hosting solutions. Of course, we always keep track of new trends, and our development team is constantly working on improvements and new services.
What are the differences between the web hosting services and managed servers at Hetzner Online?
We offer web hosting accounts and managed servers. Both types of products include technical support and allow customers to focus on their projects and leave the administration to our qualified staff. The difference is that, with a web hosting account, customers’ web hosting space is on a physical server that is shared.
This is ideal for customers who only have low requirements. Whereas customers with higher requirements can rent a managed server, where the physical server is dedicated completely to them. Your line of cloud servers is one of the most remarkable services you provide.
Each plan seems to include a lot of resources for the price. How can Hetzner Online offer these services at such affordable prices?
Our main goal is to give customers the best bang for their buck. This applies to our cloud servers as well as on to our dedicated servers.
Achieving this aim requires a whole series of measures. So we select our server components very carefully, and based on four aspects:
- Power consumption
- Quality (robustness)
The same goes for your dedicated root servers. It is possible to find high-quality servers for almost any budget. Could you please tell us about your dedicated root servers?
Our philosophy is that we develop as much as we can ourselves, from scratch. That’s true not just for our dedicated root servers, but also for our data centers. We have become experts at building data centers; instead of outsourcing the work, we staff our own building crew. We have electricians, electrical engineers, people for air conditioning, construction supervisors, architects, and many, many more. This gives us complete and total control over what we design and build.
By building our own data centers, we are able to influence every single aspect of them. One great example of this is the energy efficiency of our data centers. Each kWh of electricity which we do not use enables us to offer our products and services at a lower price. Many of our customers already have experience in server administration, and they do not want to pay for administration services and support that they do not need.
These customers want to have complete control of their servers, which is why our dedicated root servers are great for them. Customers pay a much lower price and have complete control of their server and all the data on it. We offer a full range of dedicated root servers. So we have entry-level servers that are suitable for lower requirements, which are great for anyone who has a small budget, like small businesses, start-ups, and hobbyists.
However, large businesses or customers with high requirements will also find the right dedicated root server to fit their needs, like ones with more powerful hardware or more storage. These servers may cost a little more but still have the best price-to-performance ratio.
From your perspective, how do you define quality? What differentiates/distinguishes Hetzner Online from its competitors?
As I already mentioned before, Hetzner Online strives for the best price to performance ratio. We want to offer our customers low prices but high quality. We check what is the best hardware for the lowest price. We also use energy from renewable sources to power our servers in our data centers. In our German data center parks, we at Hetzner Online use %100 carbon dioxide-free and environmentally-friendly hydropower for its operations.
Similarly, in Data Center Park Helsinki in Finland, Hetzner employs wind and hydropower for its energy uses. For years, the investment decisions made at Hetzner Online have been based on energy efficiency. Our in-house teams closely monitor the power consumption of our hardware and network components and always strive to reduce them as much as possible. Energy efficiency is also a fundamental criterion in how we select our hardware components.
Another aspect is, that many of our competitors use third-party call centers, which typically provide slower, lower-quality support. At Hetzner Online, however, our clients get personal contact 24/7 directly with our expert technicians in our own data centers, which means we can provide quicker, high-quality support.
Hetzner Online provides colocation services in three locations. What are the essential features of these three colocation centers?
Customers who use our colocation centers can house their own hardware in energy-efficient data center parks with modern IT infrastructure and climate control systems that include raised floors and the option of cold aisle containment. The colocation centers in Nuremberg, in Falkenstein/Vogtland, and Helsinki are ISO 27001 certified and thus meet international safety standards.
Customers profit from our uninterruptible power supply, fast internet access, vulnerability-free security system, and 24/7 on-site customer support. Colocation customers can access their hardware 24/7 using a transponder key, which opens controlled interlocking security doors and their rack space or colocation cages.
The Storage Boxes service provides many important features for the users, who want to have high-quality self-managed online storage. How does Hetzner Online secure data on Storage Boxes?
Amongst other measures, we use a RAID configuration to secure our Storage Boxes, which can tolerate a failure of several hard disks. Therefore, the chance of losing data is relatively small. As an additional measure, we use checksums for the individual data blocks to detect and correct bit errors.
Could you please tell us about other Hetzner Online services such as domain registration, SSL certificates, and the service you provide on your DNS Console?
We offer a wide range of services. This gives our customers the opportunity to not only rent hardware from us but to also have everything on one centralized account. With us, they can register domains, manage their DNS, and use SSL certificates to secure communications between their server and a client – and all from one account. This helps our customers to be more efficient because it minimizes their effort enormously. They don’t waste time using many different providers.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic change the way people do business in the web hosting industry?
COVID-19 triggered rapid growth in the amount of work people do use the Internet. For example, people are automating processes that they used to do manually, and more of their business interactions now take place in the digital world. Naturally, we benefit from this digital expansion. COVID-19 sped up a trend that was already in place. Digitization will continue to advance. We are only at the beginning.