BlueChannel is a web-development company that bridges the gap—as founder and president Paul DeCrette explains it—between ﬂy-by-night development shops and big New York agencies. “There are these one-person web shops that charge extremely low rates but will not be around six months from now. And there are the huge ﬁrms that will do an excellent job if your pockets are deep enough. So the majority of clients seek a partnership with a company that can be agile enough to respond to their needs and budgets, but also deliver professional web-development services.”
DeCrette founded BlueChannel in Chicago in 1998. Today, the company is based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where DeCrette lives with his family. “I’ve built the company around my lifestyle,” he explains. “I have my oﬃce in Steamboat Springs and I have a distributed workforce with employees around the country. I partner with the best people and companies I can ﬁnd no matter where they are.”
BlueChannel is not the only ”location-neutral” business based in Steamboat Springs, a ski town of 12,000 that’s 150 miles northwest of Denver. ”Location-neutral businesses are I think the fastest-growing sector of our economy. A lot of these businesses are in technology. Because of technology, we have the ability to live and work where we want. Technology enables me to live a life I love and raise my family in a town that is awesome—basically, to work to live, not live to work.”
In fact, technology enables all of BlueChannel’s employees to live where they want. “My entire staﬀ is distributed. We work from locations that are appealing to each of us,” DeCrette explains. That’s a signiﬁcant beneﬁt for his employees, and an important recruiting advantage. “The fact that we’re all remote enables me to open up my search beyond my physical location. That’s true for clients, and vendors too.”
But succeeding with a distributed workforce model depends on reliable connectivity—for BlueChannel’s employees and its clients. And that model requires a reliable data center, which DeCrette found hard to come by. “We went to IO after an extremely bad data center experience. We had to ﬁnd a provider that could give us a reliable network, give us reliable space, and then get out of the way and not mess with our stuﬀ. That had been a major problem.”
The Solution: Blended Bandwidth, 100% Uptime SLA, Free Remote Hands
“I was not looking at data centers in Phoenix. I was looking at data centers all over the country. I wanted the best. A provider that would treat my company with respect and satisfy all my needs, including 100% or near 100% network reliability, multiple upstream providers and divergent paths—all the things that you expect in a data center but don’t always actually get,” says DeCrette.
DeCrette chose IO for its blended bandwidth, 100% uptime SLA and free remote-hands support—all essential prerequisites for the success of BlueChannel’s work-from-anywhere model.
Blended Bandwidth → 100% Uptime SLA
Although a number of factors contribute to data center uptime, DeCrette appreciates network reliability in particular. He explains, “My experience at IO has been almost 100% uptime.” That’s important no matter where the data center is, of course, but especially essential for a company like BlueChannel, which is 800 miles away from its IT infrastructure.
One key to delivering that reliability is blended bandwidth. IO brings in multiple Internet feeds from global Tier 1 network providers to ensure customers get an always-on connection to the Internet. “If one upstream provider is having problems, I can still get connectivity from one of the other providers,” says DeCrette. “I have redundancy on so many levels and that really gives me peace of mind, especially since I’m far away from the data center. It gives my customers reliability. It results in essentially no downtime.”
That doesn’t mean downtime never occurs. “I think I had a 12-second blip a year ago. I reached out to my account manager who wrote back with a straightforward answer explaining that there was a failover from the primary to the secondary circuit that resulted in very brief connectivity loss,” says DeCrette. “I got an honest response from a real person. I didn’t get denials; I didn’t get cover-ups. And it was just 12 seconds probably in the middle of the night. Compared with previous service providers, reliability—and transparency—is night and day with IO.”
Free Remote Hands
That’s where remote-hands support comes in. IO oﬀers free remote hands: technical experts who can be on-site hands for troubleshooting and resolving infrastructure issues. DeCrette explains from his perspective, “What remote hands support means for me is I’m here living in Steamboat Springs, I have employees all over the country, and my data center is in Phoenix. If I need someone to physically go into the module and swap out the power supply on one of my servers, I can call IO and it’s done.”
Remote-hands support can be valuable no matter where you are in relation to your data center, but it’s critical when your data center is hundreds of miles away. “If you’re in Phoenix and you have a problem with a server, it’s probably not a big deal to send one of your technicians to the data center to resolve the problem and be back in time for lunch,” says DeCrette. “But when you live in a town like Steamboat Springs, it’s a two-day proposition with associated direct expenses and lost revenue. Remote-hands support is actually critical for BlueChannel.”
Working to Live, Not Living to Work
True work/life balance is essential for young technologists in particular, and it’s an important competitive advantage for BlueChannel. “Being able to work remotely is a critical beneﬁt that BlueChannel oﬀers. Not only is it a cost savings beneﬁt for me as an owner, but it’s also a perk for the employees to be able to live and work where they want to,” explains DeCrette.
But for a technology company like BlueChannel, achieving true work/life balance—working to live, not living to work—requires a data center partner to deliver always-on connectivity. To also provide remote-hands support when it’s needed, and, the rest of the time, to stay out of the way.