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Interview with of Antonio Ferreira of Lunacloud

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CTC: Antonio, tell us about yourself and your experience in the cloud computing industry?

I have been on the Internet business since in 1994 I launched an Internet Service Provider. Back then, Internet access was not as common as it is nowadays, until adoption took off in 1998/99.

At the moment, I would say that we stand in the same place in terms of the adoption curve for cloud computing.

I sold my ISP to an US multinational back in 1999, but I have stayed in the industry as managing director of other Internet companies, including VIA NET.WORKS (networks), Amen (web hosting) and Claranet (managed services provider), which acquired this US company in 2005. That’s when I met Charles Nasser, founder & CEO of Claranet and my partner in Lunacloud.

I also authored some books on web programming in the US in 1998/99.

Therefore, hosting in general has been my area of expertise for many years, including virtualization since 2006/2007. The cloud concept was being shaped by then, until it became what it is now.

CTC: Who are Lunacloud and what is your differentiator in a very crowded IaaS market?

Lunacloud is a new company that I and Charles started in 2011, but has only seen the market light in June 2012.The IaaS market is indeed crowded, very much the same way the Internet access market was in 1998/99.

However, there is still a dominant player, which is Amazon, and many smaller players. We believe that some business models will not survive, but some will, during the consolidation phase that will inevitably follow.

Given our experience in the market and the backing, we strongly believe we have a successful offer that will attract customers and will distinguish ourselves from competitors. It is a harder task when you’re small, but it will became easier as we grow.

Lunacloud is a pure-play cloud provider, we only do IaaS and nothing else, not charging setup or recurring fixed fees, or asking for term contract commitments. Our customer is a customer only if he likes the service.

We provide a lot more flexibility than other competitors, as a customer can choose any mix of RAM, CPU and DISK space for a Cloud Server, which allows 307,200 different server configurations! And these resources can be changed on-the-fly, not requiring a server to reboot. This is what we call hot resize!

Also, we engineered our platforms to use the most up-to-date infrastructure. We did some benchmarking of CPU, DISK I/O and RAM access against main competitors and we are way better in terms of the performance we offer for comparable resources (happy to share the benchmark results, by email to info@lunacloud.com).

In terms of price (and I don’t believe the price wars have started yet), we position ourselves around 20% cheaper than the dominant player, we genuinely want to use our economies of scale to provide a lower cost for the services that we provide.

In addition to flexibility, power and value… we are a lot simpler in terms of messaging, account creation process, resources management. Simplicity is elegance.

CTC: What countries have Lunacloud deployed into?

We started with the UK and Portugal and are now working on opening France, Spain and the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) in 2012.

CTC: What are the development plans for Lunacloud?

Germany and other european countries will follow in 2013 and outside Europe only in 2014.

We have the ambition to become a global player, with nodes across the world, in locations that differ from our competitors (for a genuine alternative), all based on Tier3+ datacenters and within 40 ms of our customers, for optimized performance.

CTC: Where did the name Lunacloud originate from?

There are two ways to understand it, the first one being “Luna”, easy to spell in any language and which means “The moon”… therefore an analogy with “the cloud from the moon”.

The second one is a well kept secret for now… guesses accepted. 🙂

CTC: What are the trends your organisation is noticing within the marketplace?

The cloud definition provided by the NIST that splits the service models in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS is being clearly followed now and the market seems to be maturing, with the cloud not being such a “cloudy” concept now.

We notice that there is still high tendency for organizations to deploy their own “private clouds”, until they trust more public/private cloud service providers. We’re still 2-3 years from major cloud adoption that I believe will only occur when organizations and customers finally trust their cloud providers.

CTC: How do you intend to attract new customers onto your platform?

We will rely a lot on word of mouth from happy customers, including the 100+ beta testers that we had for 3 months prior to launch. We know it takes a while, but it is the most effective way of winning loyal customers, because they will rely on the suggestion of a friend or partner.

However, we are also doing some traditional communications through online media. Given my past and the fact that Lunacloud is a new start-up, I have also had the opportunity to speak with many journalists and analysts. As we make our differentiators more clear, I believe we will attract new customers. After all, opening an account with Lunacloud is free and the cost of using the resources is lower than anywhere else. There is nothing to loose to give Lunacloud a try.

CTC: A question we ask everyone “what is your definition of cloud computing?

My definition is the one developed by the NIST.

There are 3 service models – IaaS, PaaS, SaaS – and cloud services must comply with 5 characteristics: on-demand self service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, measured service.

On average 60% to 70% of the so called cloud providers to not follow this definition. This creates confusion. I state that we are a pure-play cloud provider. We only do cloud and we do it at 100%.

CTC: Tell us what your average day entails?

It’s like being back to old start-up days, plus having to manage other more established businesses. I really enjoy what I am doing, so I dedicate at least 12 hours per day at this moment to running Internet businesses, with a special focus on Lunacloud.

I usually start at 8 a.m., check statistics and news from the previous day and then work on the different project streams during the day. I enjoy talking to customers when I can, so I usually take some time to do it too, even if it is a small customer. This keeps me well informed about what customers need.

CTC: Who is the team behind Lunacloud?

We have a group of about 20 people in the UK and Portugal, covering infrastructure, network, engineering, operations, support, marketing, finance and HR, as well as some external outsourced functions. We also have the backing of Claranet, which allows us to be a small and flexible start-up, while having some resources and processes that usually only bigger companies have.

CTC: and finally if you could change one thing within the cloud computing industry what would it be?

Although we have one of the most elegant brands, I would remove the branding, so that customers could buy cloud services based exclusively on their merits of performance, reliability and price. Communication makes it harder for customers to perceive real value. I might review my position when we become more well know. 😉