As we continue our Low End Box Interview Series today we are excited to talk to Erward Osckar, Founder and CEO of Wow Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of colocation and cloud enabled services globally. Erward and his team are uniquely positioned to shed some light on industry trends and where things are going given his tremendous accomplishments at Wowrack. So, let’s get started with the interview!
Tell me about your background and Wowrack’s history?
My name Is Erward Osckar, Founder and CEO of Wow Technologies, Inc. Jimmy Pandra, my partner, and I started the company as Wowrack.com in 2001 as a webhosting company and dedicated server company. We started the company early in our career. In fact, I just got done with my Graduate school program and Jim was still in college when we started. We started the company literally out of Jim’s one bedroom apartment in Seattle. At that time, we were fascinated with the Internet and learnt a lot of things on our own based out of our self-interest. I have always been more fascinated in System and Network Administration and Jim has always been gifted in running physical datacenter and company operation. We talked about opening up our own business as two young kids and made a decision to start up Wowrack after having 15 minutes of conversation. We broke open our piggy bank, maxed out of our credit card, and got $20K in startup monies and launched the company in August of 2001. The rest is history as we have run the company together for almost 20 years now, and have also grown up to be successful entrepreneurs.
Wowrack has an excellent reputation and market position on the West Coast – what do you owe the great results to?
I think our reputation is the result of our hard work, honesty, service-oriented mindset, and just being an all-around easy business partner to work with for all of our clients, vendors and everyone we work with. This is the kind of DNA that we try hard to instill and develop in every Wowrackers and the result shows. We have not only built a great entrepreneurial reputation, but we are essentially operating as an extended families of our clients. Yes, Really! Relationship and uptime is always the primary for us. Business always comes secondary.
Where do you think the future takes the hosting industry?
Over the 20 years in the industry, I have certainly seen a lot of difference changes. I see a lot of hosting / colo / telco providers who had great success in the past being pushed out in the market as they are slow to evolve and adapt to more of the service industry. I always say that the market of selling space, compute, disk space, email accounts are long gone with the evolution of the large cloud or wholesale real estate providers. In order to evolve in this business, one needs to be able to adapt and provide much more value added services to their clients. Selling Infrastructure and platform is no longer a sustainable business (unless you are the hyperscalers). One needs to continue to provide service, or platform, or software, in order to stay relevant in the hosting industry. The good news is that the market is extremely large and there will always be a client for you. Whoever can continue to provide value to their clients will be the one who survive in this continuous evolution of our industry.
What makes your company unique in today’s evolving market landscape? How are you evolving with the times?
Wowrack’s recipe for success has always been centering our decision process around customer’s needs and what’s important for them. I know that everyone in the industry is saying the same thing, but executes differently. We are not largely unique in terms of datacenter, colocation, and the technology that we provide to our clients. However being able to stay consistent and deliver and provide good quality responses to our customers is what makes us stay relevant in the market. In addition, we have never been afraid to learn new things and deliver new technologies to our client. This is also very important as we stay relevant in the industry, makes things exciting for our engineers, and most importantly continue to have fun.
What do you enjoy most about your role? What do you find most difficult?
The thing that I enjoy the most is witnessing how our product and services serves our customer on their day-to-day technological needs. For instance, understanding that there are financial institutions out there that depends on our services for their critical infrastructure puts the criticality of our service to another level. Or maybe going to a retail store or restaurant and knowing that their data goes thru our infrastructure for processing is a very rewarding feeling. This is the kind of thing that I enjoy the most and I try to relay this as much as possible to our engineers. I always told them that what they see as blinking lights, or web server, or firewall rules, or unplanned outage, can have so many different impacts to many people.
What I found most difficult for me is to continually educate and train our employees about the Wowrack values and how to be consistent in our service delivery. Our business is 24/7/365 with so many different variables that can go wrong at any time. Planning, mitigating, and remediation of risk factors are always the number one priority in my mind and its not easy.
Both personally and professionally, what guiding principles ground you?
Simple. I have always been taught to treat others as you want to be treated. As I have high standard on how I’d like to be treated, I always go out of my way to make sure that I am highly sensitive to the things that are important to others and I would go out of my way to make sure that its met. This is the principles that I taught my own kids and our employees. I honestly believe that human being is overall decent, and we all wanted to be treated right.
Give us some details on new and exciting things you are working on?
On the enterprise level, Wowrack is continuing to work with our customers to deliver uptime, stability and compliancy to their infrastructure. Things on the enterprise level will continue to be exciting for our guys as we often deploy new exciting and fast technologies. Wowrack is also continuing our rapid growth in the Asia Pacific market where we have our secondary Headquarters in. We have acquired real estate and fiber assets and will continue our growth in the infrastructure and telecommunication market over there. Lastly, our team in Asia have also recently launched cloudraya.com, a multitenant Cloud platform with numerous local partnership in Asia.
Why should customers trust you and your business?
Our reputation, DNA, and principles as described in points no 2&6 above
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