12.12.2016

Via drag and drop in seconds to your own cloud server: a gridscale company portrait

The three gridscale founders Michael Balser (3rd from the left), Torsten Urbas (4th from the left) and Henrik Hasenkamp (5th from the left) with their team.

"Get in, get going, get out, done - and this with accurate per-minute billing." - A look behind the scenes of the young cloud provider, gridscale.

"First and foremost, we were dissatisfied with the stability and ease-of-use of today's IT hosting solutions," says gridscale's co-founder Henrik Hasenkamp (CEO). In the last 15 years he and his co-founders Michael Balser (CPO) and Torsten Urbas (CTO) have repeatedly solved individual customer problems of availability, automation or automatic scalability in numerous projects. During that time, they talked a lot about how they could combine the various technologies and experiences from the past years in a single product. They brainstormed about a solution that would not work project-related, but would available to everyone in a modern cloud environment. "In the end, gridscale was born and we started the development," says Hasenkamp.

After the first prototypes it was clear that they would implement the business idea. "We have created the first autonomous and real-time-scalable hosting provider," says Hasenkamp. The focus of gridscale is on the ease-of-use, a high-availability IT infrastructure with proactive error detection and algorithms for self-optimization combined with self-healing in the event of a fault. In addition, no predefined packages are presented, such as pre-determined levels of cores or RAM like most hosting providers offer today. With gridscale, users decide about the dimensions of their IT and can independently choose cores, RAM and SSD storage, assures Hasenkamp.

"We apply the car-sharing principle to gridscale. No basic fees, no obligation, no set running times. Get in, get going, get out, done - and this with a accurate per-minute billing "

As a German company with its data center location in Germany, gridscale is also subject to the strict German data protection guidelines and can therefore answer all compliance questions of IT decision-makers with "fully met".

The pay-as-you-go model

The hosting market is very large - therefore the competition is, too. Especially the market leaders such as Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure) and Google (Cloud Compute Engine) are watching the founders of gridscale with interest. Catching up to these providers is not the goal. "Our solution is optimal for a user who wants a superb performance with less complexity. We are also looking forward to a very good, open exchange with colleagues from AWS and Google about market developments, technical innovations, future visions and IT problems, " says the gridscale CEO. gridscale wants to position itself as a solution that can solve a variety of problems in today's and future IT landscapes. "We are deliberately taking a path that other providers do not consider to date, or where other providers place themselves with individual, high-priced managed hosting services."

The business model of gridscale is referred to as Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service. This means that IT infrastructure, IT services and computing performance are delivered to the users flexibly in a pay-as-you-go model.

One of the first major users was billwerk. "We got to know the company because we had to build an extremely flexible billing system. We came into conversation and exchanged a little. It turned out that billwerk sought a solution exactly like gridscale, "says Hasenkamp retrospectively. Thus, two companies were found that could solve each other's important problems.

Feedback culture and no "bullshit meetings"

Currently, gridscale employs 14 people from Europe. Hasenkamp, ​​Balser and Urbas put much emphasis on the internal feedback culture: everything can and should be questioned critically. Everyone has the right to choose their work environment as well as their work location freely. In order to remain connected as a team, the locations in Berlin, Wuppertal and Cologne are networked with all-day audio lines, so that everyone is always aware of everything - if they want to. Even in terms of working hours, the reins are left as loose as possible. The founders leave their employees the decision how to allocate their time. This strengthens the team spirit and sense of responsibility towards the company.

In addition, the team attaches importance to regular private and professional exchanges. So they have an appointment every Monday at 1 pm, in which each team member can pitch in a maximum of 60 seconds how their week translates to the user's benefit. "This is how we want to focus our activities on our users and consider whether a certain activity is of benefit", says Hasenkamp. "The second ritual has grown out of the company's foundation. We have set the Wednesday evening from the very beginning and meet us at for pizza and drinks - virtually or physically - to discuss, review the week, learn lessons and celebrate success.

The Cologne office of gridscale is located in Mediapark. (Photo: "Luftbild: Mediapark Köln" by Marco Verch / CC BY 2.0)

As in most digital forges, work is carried out on both Scrum and Kanban. "We have been leaning towards Scrum, but we are also using components from Kanban. The goal is, of course, to support a modern and agile development. We call it Scranban, "says Hasenkamp. Corporate culture also means that no "bullshit meetings" are held.

What are the company's objectives in the near future?

Last year, after successful market entry in 2015 and a strong growth in 2016, was also about getting investors on board. In autumn 2016, gridscale succeeded in winning two very experienced investors. "The completion of the investment agreements was an important milestone for us in 2016 to accelerate the growth of gridscale even further," says the founder.

In the near future, the IaaS services are to be expanded continuously with additional PaaS services. In the long term, stable growth is to be secured and new customer groups are to be developed. "Classic services, such as database or messaging services, various appliances, and automation, enable our users to access a rounded and complete portfolio. And, of course, we are also striving to continue to grow in the German market and will continue to expand our locations, "says Hasenkamp.

With the growth also further team members are necessary. At the moment, the hosting provider is looking staff in the area of ​​front-end development (AngularJS) and backend development (Python), as well as support for deep-learning / AI (mxnet) applications.

The original article can be found here.

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