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World Hosting Days Global 2016

I’ve written a lot of posts, several white papers, and even a book, but this is the first time that I am struggling with where to start. I could start 5 years ago, back in 2011 when I attended World Hosting Days for the first time, even though I had a high temperature (it was worth going). Only problem with that idea is that it would probably take you as much time to read it as it takes to get to Rust, Germany.

Europa-Park is the largest theme park in Germany and the second most popular theme park resort in Europe, following Disneyland Paris. Europa-Park is located in Rust, in south-western Germany, between Freiburg and Strasbourg, France. Wikipedia

Rust is the hometown of Europa-Park one of the largest theme parks in Europe. And that’s where the World Hosting Days global is happening, inside a freaking theme park! But I am getting ahead of myself.

We started our long drive at 9 a.m., mainly because there’s isn’t a direct flight from our hometown Rijeka, Croatia, to Rust, Germany. By the time I was driving on the (or should I say “Die”) Autobahn, I was thinking about how I am just crossing off my to-do list something that might be on someone’s bucket list or someone’s salvation. On most parts of the Autobahn you can drive as fast as you want/can, and you have to watch more in your rearview mirror, than on the road ahead. To give you a clue, if you are driving 160 km/h (100 mph), you need to be in the center (second) lane.

So when I wasn’t being scared like Tom Hanks, I was thinking about that end scene from Fast Five when they were driving on the Autobahn and how many drivers would like to get their taste of the Autobahn. But after seeing a Lamborghini, a Ferrari, few Porsches, and a Mustang GT in downtown Munich, I realized why so many refugees from Syria are trying to get here.

I don’t want to go all political on you, so lets get back on the road. We arrived at 8 p.m., and already there was something happening in Rust! InternetX was holding a domain auction at 10 p.m. to warm things up for World Hosting Days. Unfortunately, I had a headache and I had to skip that one, but I looked at the brochure and saw that there were going to be .club, .cloud, .global, Radix, and Uniregistry with some nice domains up for grabs.

Tuesday was the first conference day, and since this was my fifth World Hosting Days Global in a row, I already had some strategies that I followed. Also, in five years I’ve seen many changes with my approach and the organizer’s approach. But I don’t want to bore you… Maybe if we meet at WHD 2017, we can talk about those.

There’s so many choices and paths for you to take. Here are just a few:

  1. Keynotes
  2. Stands
  3. Fun (food, games, rides, chats)
  4. Meetings

Keynotes

At WHD, you have so many great keynotes that often you have to pick between two of them or reschedule your meetings because you want to hear where the industry is going. This year Symantec brought Peter Schmeichel on stage and some people even managed to get a photo with Pele! Their message was “Changing the game”.

Pele and Christian Jaeger
Pele and Christian Jaeger – World Hosting Days

So, as you see, although the keynotes focus on the data of where the “hosting” industry is going, and what are the new game changing ideas, they are also incredibly fun and doing their best to get your attention. I put hosting in quotes because it’s so much more. Sure, people talk about hosting, the cloud, and servers, but they also talk about the hardware, datacenters, and various tools that are responsible for your hosting. Keynotes are also about security, vulnerability, SSL certificates, hackers, backups, and so on. They are also about website builders, domain names, SEO, and so on.

On top of all that, you have guest speakers like Julian Assange, Steve Wozniak (last year), Edward Snowden, and Buzz Aldrin (this year). Yes, the second person that walked on the moon, that Buzz Aldrin. His message was simple: “Get your ass to Mars.”

Buzz Aldrin on World Hosting Days
Buzz Aldrin on World Hosting Days

Stands

As I mentioned earlier, this was my fifth consecutive year attending WHD, and during those years there’s been a clear pattern. Each year there have been more stands. The last two years it was completely obvious because there were new halls all-together that had to take in the stands. I guess I could say that majority of the stands are targeting hosting companies, but it’s a bit more complex than that. This year I saw a booth that promoted opening and doing business in Finland, for example.

If I need to describe the stands, I would have to try to describe the hosting industry and it’s hard to draw the line. This was also the topic of several keynotes, where should the hosting service begin, and where should it end? What does the client need and expect, and what does she get? Domain registration, hosting, monitoring, backups, SSL, website builders, mobile, social, SEO, email, and the list doesn’t end there! Green datacenters, low power consumption hard drives, excellent RAM memory, 3 tier Internet connection, privacy, public cloud, encryption, there’s so much to take in and I probably missed something! I remember saying once during my presentation in Mountain View, California, “Hosting companies are holding the entire Internet up and running,” and this statement certainly kicks in once you visit WHD.

Fun

If someone had told me how much fun I was going to have at WHD before my first time there, I honestly wouldn’t believe it, I am 100% business. Where do I even start… Food is just phenomenal, one keynote speaker was raving on stage about a great German schnitzel! I am not making this up, that’s how he opened his keynote. Most of the food you eat is cooked by Europa-Park hotel, and it’s basically “all-you-can-eat buffet” with several menus that include appetizers, deserts, and drinks. That’s lunch.

Atmosphere at WHD lunch
Atmosphere at WHD lunch

On Tuesday you have to find your own dinner (OMG, the greek restaurant Dionysos in Herbolzheim) but on Wednesday and Thursday, WHD has you covered. If one of the first thoughts that crossed your mind when you think Germany is Octoberfest, that’s great because Wednesday night is for BierFest. I guess that one just speaks for itself, and this year it was sponsored by Symantec. Thursday night, which ends the WHD, is ConneXion party (this year it was sponsored by OnApp and Boney M was performing live). I can bore you with the list of what I drank and ate, but you would probably have to run to the kitchen to grab something to eat before you are done reading this post.

As you can see by now, organizers, sponsors, and companies that exhibit want you to have fun, and everybody chimes in! The last few years SiteLock has a great stand with a real blackjack dealer, and you can actually play 21 right there. Couple years ago I played darts at SSL guru stand and won an iPod nano!

Won an iPod nano at SSL guru
Won an iPod nano at SSL guru

But I also won Bose noise cancelling headphones (from Symantec) and an iPad mini (from the organizers—WHD) three years ago. Yeah, it’s that crazy. I think I could write a separate post just on what else you could do at WHD if you need a breather from that hectic conference pace. I will add one more thing; if you come often enough, you will make friends there from around the world, and you can be sure that you will meet with them at least once per year. You can all board the Europa-Park’s Silver Star (video) and enjoy the roller coaster ride.

Meetings

Lets say, for the sake of the argument, that you come to World Hosting Days totally unprepared and you have absolutely no meetings scheduled. With that in mind I can almost guarantee that you will have at least 2-3 meetings per day. Either you will start a conversation with someone while driving on the train to lunch, or during lunch, or someone will approach you while you are drinking coffee in the Internet lounge; company employees at the stands will certainly approach you. Since there are over 5000 people attending, there’s a great chance you will bump into an acquaintance or senior management individual from within the industry that you are dying to meet. Have in mind that if you don’t have a planned meeting, someone might see you on the attendees list, and invite you to have a meeting with them (the other side actually plans the meeting). I am not making this up, all these scenarios happened to me during the years while attending WHD, and I can imagine there are more scenarios how you can spark a meeting at WHD. It also helps if you pick up the phone or send an email and actually arrange one yourself. I use to end WHD with as many as 30 business cards.

In closing, I sincerely hope I made my point. World Hosting Days global in Rust is definitely the place to be. It’s just getting bigger and better in so many ways! It hurts me how much I wasn’t able to mention here (like the hackathon that happened before WHD started), but think of it as a surprise for you when you actually do come here and experience it yourself. Be sure to ping WhoAPI, we would love to meet you there!

P.S.
Special hello to: Jonathan Wisler from SoftLayer, whom I am met with 5 times during 5 years at WHD, Matt Miller at SoftLayer, Arkadiusz Szczurowski at SSLGuru, Chris Sheridan at Weebly, Bojan Stopic at Ascio, Thomas Vollrath at BaseKit, Christian Jaeger at WHD, Igor Kuehn at InterNetX, Aaron Philips at cPanel, Paul Kelly at Blacknight, Zvonimir Gembec at Plus hosting, Jeff Sass at .Club, James Withall at OnApp, Ditlev Bredahl at OnApp, and everybody else that I met this year at WHD, that I missed, and that I will see next year.

Written by Goran Duskic

I am the founder and CEO at WhoAPI. Entrepreneur for more than a decade in the hosting and domain industry. Sold my previous company. 500 Startups and StartLabs alumni. Author of a white paper "Domain Disclosure: Dirty Dozen" and eBook "26 Fundraising Questions for Startups".

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