And so it begins. The journey to a cloud masterpiece. My name is Lukas Gibb and I build and manage servers of all kinds that do amazing things all day, every day. They don’t sleep and hopefully neither will you while I share some of my knowledge on building cool stuff.
My Cloud journey began about 18 years ago (wow, that long?) when I started building websites for small businesses and created my first business with my Uni friend to make some extra cash. The word ‘Cloud’ wasn’t even used back then to refer to anything tech related. We were studying marketing and e-commerce at the time though and with some basic programming skills under our belts a career in web-design seemed logical.
I found out pretty quickly that although I understood how to make things ‘work’ on a web page, that I couldn’t design my way out of a wet paper bag (as you can probably see from this blog). I also learned that programming can really suck too; spending hours re-reading your code until you found the one extra semi-colon that you added (or forgot to add) which completely broke your beautiful page got tired pretty quickly.
Despite my first business giving way to the more social activities of University, I still had a passion for the web and the exciting landscape that was unfolding all around me and soon I was working hard on a second venture with another friend. This time it was a new payment system for the web that would allow online shoppers to make purchases without the need for a credit card. SmartCash was a pre-paid account which you could top up with funds at the bank or through direct deposit, BPay etc. It was a fantastic idea which was sure to change the online shopping world but as we were starting with zero card-holders and zero online stores had integrated our payment gateway it was a case of the chicken or the egg for two young guys with little actual marketing experience.
While we were working on building a user base and talking to online retailers about accepting SmartCash payments on their shopping carts, we needed another form of revenue to help fund our plans to take over the world. This is where I fell into the wonderful world of web hosting. We had a friend who had a small business hosting web sites for friends and contacts that he had met through his 9-5 job. We decided to all join forces and grew that list of clients ten-fold in the space of 6 months to a point where it became our main focus and SmartCash started to fall by the way-side. Coupled with the launch of Paypal’s Debit bank account integration, and our lack of marketing skills, it was unfortunately a lost cause.
So on we went to become Jumba, one of Australia’s fastest growing and leading budget web-hosts with thousands of websites running on our servers, all the while learning about how to build more robust and secure servers that could handle millions of requests a day for all the other busy entrepreneurs that were also working on their plans of world domination. Honing our marketing skills and working closely with our customers to build great solutions, not only in web hosting but also other services such as ADSL, Hosted PABX and enterprise email. We had a great little community of fellow geeks that helped us every step of the way. Even though this was before the days of social media, we mustered a loyal army of fans that were there to praise us and help sell our services to their friends, family and anyone else on the Internet that would listen.
I am very proud of the brand we created which is still around to this day (mostly un-changed) and was recently acquired by Melbourne IT/Netregisty in one of the biggest business deals in the Australian web hosting industry’s history. And although I sold out of the business much too early on to reap the benefits of the multi-million dollar deals taking place these days, it is still my baby and I’m glad to see it still doing well.
When I decided to take a break from the heavy personal pressures of life as an entrepreneur, I decided to get a ‘normal’ job. This took me into the wonderful world of being ‘the IT guy’ for several small and medium customers; working as a mobile tech installing and fixing networks, servers, VoIP systems and PC’s on and off site. I enjoyed the change of pace there and learned a lot about Windows servers and Active Directory which are a necessary evil in the small business landscape. This company has also seen phenomenal growth and the telephony division was recently acquired by a major Telco.
In an effort to find work closer to home, I then found a great job with a small software company catering to the hospitality industry. I joined at the cusp of a very exciting time of change for the company as it made the wise move of starting the transition from a locally installed and managed software product to a ‘Cloud’ hosted solution. With 25 years of old-school software experience, this process has been slow but steady and now that it is done, the company is beginning to grow exponentially and is poised to become one of the biggest hospitality software companies in the world.
This blog is an endeavour to share some of what I have learned along this journey and to help me to become a master of my trade. Like the tradesman of old who travelled the countryside refining their craft before becoming a master craftsman, I want to put my skills to good use and help to make the Cloud a better place. And so it begins, the journey to a Cloud masterpiece. Enjoy.