As you may have noiced, we have recently changed our hosting service. Changing provider can be difficult—I had to effectively install a brand new server, and move all the data and configuration across. It was a time consuming and risky move: we had never dealt with 3fn before and, as far as we knew, the move could have been a disaster. After 2 weeks with them, I can honestly say that I am deeply impressed. This interview was not part of the deal we had with them—it was my own initiative, after seeing just how fantastic they were. The feature I am in love with is their 24h IM support (with real sys admins there) and their willingness to help us even in areas where it really wasn’t anything to do with the server—and even though we are a small customers for them. I interviewed 3FN, and discovered that they only focus on free software, and that they are a truly global company. Here is the interview!
TM: Hello! Please introduce yourself and your company.
We are a team of internet professionals. We offer both simple hosting and housing, as well as virtual servers. We only offer free software solutions (Linux/FreeBSD) and offer instant support to our customers through phone, IM and email.
TM: When did you start, and why?
We have been in the hosting business since 1999. The company was formed as the result of restructuring and reforming of the business after Black Tuesday in 1998.
TM: Please excuse my ignorance... which “Black Tuesday"?
It was the default of the banking system in Russia in August 1998. We found investments, and decided to focus mainly on the IT technologies, as this sector always was interesting for us. Prior we developed many IT projects including accounting, billing and credit card processing solutions, various online systems, etc... In addition, we have a very solid outsourcing experience.
TM: Did the “Black Tuesday" hit you directly? Are you based in Russia?
Now we are based in many countries having offices in USA, UK, India, Estonia and Ukraine. Back in 1998 our main investors were from Russia, and our core team was located mainly in Estonia, which is Russia’s neighbor.
TM: Do you contribute back to the free software community? If so, how?
We host many committers who donate to the free software community. I don’t feel comfortable with giving out names, but it doesn’t take long to realize that several projects that benefit free software are hosted on our servers.
TM: Do you actively sponsor free software projects yourself?
Yes. We recognize the value of free software, and offer FS projects better terms and conditions and special deals. We also feel that we make a strong case for free software, since by policy we only install free software on our servers—even if some customers would be happy to fork out money for licensing. We don’t offer Windows servers at all, for example.
TM: What are the biggest hurdles your team faces every day?
I would say competition, and our changing world, you never know what to expect next...