xneelo (previously known as Hetzner) is a leading player in the South African web hosting environment since 1999. Inspired by its brand promise ‘Trusted in Hosting’, xneelo delivers a reliable and consistent service, focusing on infrastructure stability and consistent service delivery. In this interview, Brand Manager Athena Turner portrays the story of xneelo and brings an interesting perspective on the evolution of web hosting as an industry.
What is xneelo’s mission? what sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
At xneelo, we’ve always thought of ourselves as enablers: offering a hosting service that empowers our customers to interact and grow their business online, and creating a multiplier effect for society to thrive. We’re passionate about web hosting – it’s our core business and it’s what we do best.
Our reputation has been built one customer at a time over the last 21 years. Today we’re known for delivering a consistent, helpful service to the South African mass market – over 500,000 website business owners. Our relentless focus on customer service has given us a 9.7/ 10 rating from HelloPeter, the South African industry’s customer service rating platform.
The name xneelo (pronounced ex-nee-lo) was inspired by a Latin phrase that translates into the ability to ‘create something out of nothing’, we believe that xneelo represents the resourcefulness, ingenuity, and industrious spirit of our customers – and of our team.
What makes Xneelo unique?
The relationship with our customers is what makes us unique. Everything we do is to benefit our customers and their businesses. They have helped us to grow and to stay true to who we are.
It’s also our incredible xneelo team. Over the past two decades, xneelo has built a strong, customer-centric culture. Because our employees stay with us for years, we are able to build momentum with relevant expertise and knowledge, creating a better service experience for our customers.
Our Samrand Data Centre is another factor that sets us apart. For the past 3 years, our PUE Data Centre scores (Power Usage Effectiveness) have been significantly below industry standards (1.21 instead of 1.40). This energy efficiency translates directly into cost savings for our customers. It’s good for them, and it’s good for the environment.
We service the business mass market in South Africa. They come from all industries and represent small business owners, startups to well-established corporates, and agencies.
We’re also one of the main partners of the Heavy Chef entrepreneurial community in South Africa as well as a long-time sponsor of various South African WordPress community events, including WordCamp Cape Town and Johannesburg.
What are the most fundamental factors to consider when choosing a hosting provider?
It’s important to identify what your hosting needs are so that you’re able to assess and select the right hosting product to meet your current and future growth requirements.
As an example, when starting out, you may not need the resources of an entire server. However, if you require a lot of disk space or expect large volumes of traffic to your website, you may want to host your website or application on an entire server.
In addition, many customers don’t realize the partnership element in a web hosting provider. A web project always evolves and you will need support, at some level, throughout. The technology will change and it will affect you. Our advice is to test the levels of support by either calling or sending an email to a shortlist of recommended hosting providers. Get a sense of their response times and their consultation advice. When you choose a web hosting company, you are choosing a partner that will need to scale and adapt with your business.
How has COVID-19 affected your business and customers?
During the COVID-19 lockdown, we empowered our teams to effectively work from home without interrupting customer service. While the circumstances around us have been far from normal, we have been able to support our customers throughout.
Our purpose, especially during these difficult times, is to help our customers to transact and interact online. However, while retail businesses have been able to continue operating once the hard lockdown was over, we are particularly mindful of the many businesses and industries that have been severely affected by COVID-19, especially those businesses operating in the tourism and hospitality industry. It has been a challenging year for many.
One positive outcome in South Africa in 2020 has been the increased adoption of eCommerce. Over the course of a few months, many businesses (both small and large) leveraged digital platforms and eCommerce tools to be able to continue trading and interacting with their customers. The benefits of the increased transition to eCommerce platforms will remain long after COVID-19 is behind us.
Which trends and technologies do you expect to see more of in the coming years?
Customers are driving innovation in our industry – what they want keeps evolving. In the past, customers received an empty FTP shell to host their content. Now, they want point-and-click usability and integration. They want reduced complexity in setting up a website that enables their business to interact and transact on the Internet. Customers are also looking for flexibility in computing resources, suited to their fluctuating needs.
Web Hosting used to be about the infrastructure required to host content. Making that content available and usable to the non-technical user is increasingly becoming the focus, with technology and tools becoming more sophisticated while being easy to use. Web Hosting is also becoming more transactional with ease of deployment and underlining services such as security becoming more automated.
We have seen the web hosting industry split off into infrastructure provision and software application provision. This isn’t news to your readers, however, we’ve seen this materialize in recent years. Infrastructure will also become increasingly localized, utilizing key geographical commercial hubs, as this makes a difference to the speed of transaction.
At xneelo, we see ourselves as enabling our customers to transact online and are focusing our development efforts on making this a reality for them.
What are xneelo’s future plans?
We have two exciting product launches in 2021: our new Control Panel and our Managed WordPress product.
Because 45% of our web hosting websites make use of WordPress, we are launching a Managed WordPress product next year.
We have also invested heavily in the user experience of our proprietary, next-generation xneelo Control Panel. It is designed to give the customer a unique, flexible, and intuitive self-help experience. We’ve spent a significant amount of time focusing on collaboration benefits, reseller prospecting, and volume scalability.