Wow, another year just flew by. Hard to believe that I’m posting another Top 10 list for the year. The last Top 10 feels like it was yesterday.
While the staff here is working hard on our day-to-day and future stuff, at the end of every year, I like to reflect back on the things we accomplished during the year. When you sit and look back its always amazing to see all the stuff we’ve accomplished.
But before I get started, I wanted to first talk about a little bit about Microsoft. 2011 was a very interesting year as Microsoft took a major pivot and went through a huge internal reorganization effort.
The result of Microsoft’s pivot caused some delays in the cadence for new technology releases and at worst caused some confusion among developers due to Microsoft being tight-lipped about what was going on. But Microsoft’s strategic future direction with Windows 8 was finally revealed at the //BUILD conference (we were there and did a blog post on //BUILD).
So back to DiscountASP.NET – we took the opportunity in 2011 to invest in our Team Foundation Server hosting service, work on expanding our USA data center footprint, and also kicked off some other R&D projects which will lead to enhancements you will be hearing more about in 2012.
So with that, here is my top 10 for 2011….
1. Launched two technology preview programs
In keeping with our mission to empower .NET developers, we launched two technology preview programs so developers can get an early jumpstart on testing and experimenting with upcoming technologies:
- FREE SQL Server 2012 beta hosting sandbox for our web hosting customers. Customers can activate SQL 2012 databases from their Control Panel.
- FREE WebMatrix v2 beta hosting sandbox for the developer community. Check out our Labs Site for information and signup.
2. Launched Team Foundation Server (TFS) Build Server solutions
We launched TFS Build Server solutions in our USA-based and Europe-based data centers. With this solution, customers can get a hosted TFS Build solution that is capable of continuous integration, gated check-ins and scheduled builds without the hassles of managing the server on-premises.
3. Launched Managed TFS hosting solutions
We launched premium Managed TFS hosting solutions in our USA-based and Europe-based data centers. Our Managed TFS solution gives the customer their own instance of TFS on a dedicated VM that is not shared with any other customer. With the Managed TFS service we expanded the TFS configuration options with support for Sharepoint and Reporting.
4. Revamped our Affiliate Program
In 2011, we completely revamped and enhanced our Affiliate Program. With our legacy Referral Program, only our web hosting customers were able to join as the sign up was done through the Control Panel. With this new Affiliate Program, we have separated everything so that non-customers and customers alike can join the Affiliate Program.
We also took the opportunity to increase referral commissions, added the ability to get commissions from Team Foundation Server hosting sales, and revamped the Affiliate Manager with enhanced advertising campaign management, enhanced reporting and tools to gain insights into campaign performance with advanced advertisement metrics. You can get more information about the Affiliate Program on our website.
5. Renewed our Microsoft Gold Certification under Microsoft’s revamped partnership program
In any other year, renewals for the Gold Certification was more or less routine, but in 2011 Microsoft revamped their partnership program and increased the difficulty of attaining the “Gold” distinction.
While in the past, there was one Gold Certification that could be attained through the awarding of points gained through demonstrating expertise in different competencies, Microsoft introduced a Gold and Silver level for each of about 29 different competency areas, additional Microsoft Certified staff member requirements, additional exam requirements, revenue requirements, additional customer reference requirements, and a customer satisfaction survey requirement.
Because we believe that it is important for us to demonstrate our expertise in Microsoft technologies, we invested in the renewal and we successfully attained the Gold Hosting Competency. You can validate our standing at the new Microsoft PinPoint site.
6. Offering FREE on-premises Visual SourceSafe to hosted TFS migration services
Microsoft is ending mainstream support for Visual SourceSafe in July 2012 and Team Foundation Server is the replacement. To help in the transition, we are offering FREE Visual SourceSafe migration services to our TFS hosting solutions. We have TFS Migration information on our site.
Also, I’d like to announce here for the first time that we are are extending our FREE VSS Migration offer until June 30, 2012!
7. Published research
In 2010, we started publishing research papers and articles through our blog based on the customer surveys we take. With the large number of ASP.NET web developers that we host we can gain interesting insights and observe trends that may be different than what is observed in the general public. The research papers are a way to give back to the community.
- March 2011: Does your smartphone say something about you?
- January 2011: Exploring Attitudes of .NET Developers Toward New Technologies
8. Introduced tiered discounting for TFS hosting
To make hosted TFS solutions more economical to larger developer teams, we introduced tiered discounting. Find more information on our TFS web site.
9. Expanded our partnerships with leading technology vendors
We are constantly working on partnerships with leading technology vendors to bring our customers technology integrations that will enhance our product offerings and/or provide our customers with special discounts and pricing on services and products. Our hosting customers can find information about these deals in the control panel marketplace. For 2011, I’d like to highlight these vendors:
- Google AdWords: Our USA-based and Canada-based web hosting customers can get $100 free Google AdWords credit
- Red Gate: Our hosting customers can get 20% off of SQL Source Control
- Telerik: Our customers can get a 15% discount on Telerik TeamPulse and their Ideas & Feedback Portal
- Urban Turtle: We added an Urban Turtle add-on to our TFS hosting service
10. In 2011, we added some more awards to our shelf
- DevProConnections: Gold Medal Award for Best ASP.NET Hosting
- The Code Project: Community Choice Winner for Best ASP.NET Hosting
- Visual Studio Magazine: Merit Award Winner for Best Web Hosting Services
But that’s not all – I’m adding a couple honorable mentions here:
Expanded our community support through sponsorships of Usergroups, Code Camps and Give Camps
We have always been a big supporter of the Microsoft Developer Community because we believe that it is important to give back to the community. In 2011, we put more effort into our community programs and we sponsored many more Microsoft Technology User Groups, Code Camps, and Give Camps.
As part of our sponsorships, we manned tables at many West Coast events and we also presented some sessions at our local SoCal Code Camp. As part of our community programs, we provide free hosting for Microsoft User Groups, Code Camps, Give Camps and Microsoft MVPs. If you have any questions about our community programs, please let us know.
Expanded our Social Media initiative
We understand the importance of social media in today’s world. Today, a company is not “authentic” if they do not participate in social media. These technologies are new ways for us to communicate with and engage with people. But it is also very challenging to manage and is a new frontier from traditional company communication methods of the past.
This year we challenged ourselves to post more frequently on our blog but maintain the level of relevancy. Though I’m completely biased, I think we’ve been building a very interesting and informative company blog. We focused on being more active on Twitter and in addition to our official company twitter account we’ve added several official staff twitterers. We also launched our GooglePlus presence with the DiscountASP.NET page.
Additionally, we made great strides in integrating social media communications into our workflow for outages and maintenance communications (of course, this is an ever evolving process which we will continue to improve). We also maintained our FaceBook site and are planning some improvements in 2012. We attended more Social Media conferences and events this year to learn how to be more effective through this new medium.
So that’s the Top 10 for 2011. I want to thank everyone who took the time to read through this post. I know it was a long one (hey, we did a LOT!).
I also want to thank all of our hosting customers for trusting and investing in us. We promise to continue to focus on cutting-edge hosting solutions that empowers the Microsoft developer and we will continue to give back to the community.
Have a great holiday season and we are looking forward to another exciting year of hosting in 2012! We promise that the best is yet to come…