Ikoula: A Web Host Committed to Customer Service, Privacy, and the Environment
Posted: 12.22.17 Business Solutions

Ikoula: A Web Host Committed to Customer Service, Privacy, and the Environment

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: Businesses need a reliable web presence to thrive in today’s e-commerce marketplace, but many lack the technological infrastructure to build a responsive website in-house. Since 1998, France-based Ikoula has provided web hosting services to help companies of all sizes around the globe. The company is committed to delivering that high-level service while maintaining a focus on sustainability, using electricity from 100% renewable sources since 2015. Ikoula is also committed to working with startup companies and other innovative projects that may need more support to establish themselves early on.

Datacenters are essential to powering the internet we all use, and the servers they house are continually humming — analyzing information and sending it where it needs to be. Without them, organizations, institutions, and businesses in every industry would be unable to organize, process, store and disseminate data

But the vast amount of energy required to run datacenters can take quite a toll on the environment. As the number of datacenters exploded around the world at the start of the new millennium, Ikoula, a France-based web hosting company, was an early pioneer in moving to sustainable technologies.

Photo of Ikoula Head of Sales Guillaume Lamiaux

Ikoula Head of Sales Guillaume Lamiaux spoke with us about the importance of sustainable datacenter practices.

“We understood several years ago that we were the second-most important industry in terms of pollution,” Ikoula Head of Sales Guillaume Lamiaux said. “Gas and oil are first. Information technology (IT) is second because we use a lot of energy. You need one watt to run a server and another watt to cool the server.”

Environmental impact is one of the many challenges — both technological and social — that Ikoula is boldly addressing in its nearly two decades in the hosting industry. In addition to its dedication to sustainability, Ikoula works to help startups with limited financial resources survive and succeed. The company also maintains the privacy of its client data in an era when third-parties have gained greater access to information.

And Ikoula remains committed to personalized customer service in the digital era. The company has always had staff available 24/7 to assist customers experiencing problems with their websites, which Ikoula knows are vital to their survival.

But for Ikoula, all of its hosting services begin with the peace of mind that the company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint by powering its datacenters with 100% renewable resources.

Focused on Sustainability in a Power-Hungry Industry

Ikoula was established in 1998, but the company’s green transformation began around 2006 when web hosting firms started to handle not only hardware and infrastructure, but middleware as well.

With datacenters in Reims and Eppes, France, Ikoula realized that the massive amount of electricity needed to power and cool these facilities was becoming an environmental concern.

As datacenters are added around the world to keep users digitally connected, the pollution and energy consumption issue has become a global one. One report showed that an estimated 70 billion kilowatt-hours were expended in 2014 in the US alone to power nearly 3 million datacenters. That volume of energy — which represents approximately 1.8% of the country’s total electricity usage — could power every household in the states of Virginia and Washington combined.

Screenshot of hosting and ecology stats

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, France, like many European countries, has made sustainability and environmental responsibility a national priority. Among the companies leading the charge is Ikoula, which has taken a series of steps to significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

Since November 1, 2015, Ikoula has used 100% renewable energy sources to power its datacenters while other significant renovations have increased efficiency to provide enterprise clients with 99.999% uptime. Ikoula integrated natural heat exchanges into its cooling process to reduce its air conditioning usage.

“Green is critical in France; we are very sensitive to that,” Guillaume said. “In France, we try to take care of the environment. It is essential for us. More than France, it is a European fact.”

On a Mission to Help Startups Build and Grow Their Projects

Ikoula recognizes that many startups and projects need a helping hand, especially early on, much like Ikoula did at the beginning. One of the company’s core missions is to help new startups get established and gain steam with a preferential pricing model that encourages growth.

The company also assists other innovative educational and open-source community resources with web-building expertise.

Screenshot of Ikoula project support page

Ikoula believes in supporting startups and other projects because it knows many lack the resources to get off the ground.

By supporting those projects and organizations, Ikoula helps them be free to focus on their core missions. Among the organizations Ikoula works with is Association Les Récollets — La Tremblaye which addresses unmet social and health needs for the public and operates a school for special needs children.

Others, like Framasoft and Fedora, are organizations that promote free software for the general public, a cause Ikoula supports. Organizations with limited financial means can request support from Ikoula by filling out a form on the website describing their project and their mission. Ikoula then looks for projects that align with its values of innovation, education, and responsibility.

Protecting Data Privacy in a Post-Patriot Act World

In the months after September 11, Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which, among other things, allows federal law enforcement officials greater authority in tracking and intercepting communications for purposes of law enforcement and foreign intelligence gathering. The law, which was created to deter and punish potential terrorist activity, has raised significant issues about data privacy because it allows agencies, such as the FBI, to obtain information about online activities, including email communications, web search history, and other data, without a warrant.

“People keep data here because the American government can ask to see data without a warrant from a judge if it is stored there. After the Patriot Act, British and American companies moved their servers here to be sure that their data will be safe and no one will have access.” — Guillaume Lamiaux, Ikoula Head of Sales

Those data privacy concerns led many companies in the US and England, which has a similar law in place for terror and criminal investigation related to information gathering, to move their servers to France to preserve data privacy.

“People keep data here because the American government can ask to see data without a warrant from a judge if it is stored there,” Guillaume said. “After the Patriot Act, British and American companies moved their servers here to be sure that their data will be safe, and no one will have access.”

Ikoula’s pro-data privacy policy also means that customers retain full ownership of their data, and the company does not monitor what clients are putting on their servers, nor is it selling their information to third-party marketers.

A Two-Decade Track Record of Customer Satisfaction

Ikoula now hosts 35,000 websites and runs more than 5,000 servers while maintaining its commitment to sustainability, and the company is adding to its workforce with the same care. With 45 employees, Ikoula emphasizes quality and expertise over quantity when it comes to staffing. As the company grows into a managed cloud provider, it is also focused on expanding employee skill sets to serve customers better.

The company has provided 24/7 customer service since its first day and has built a long list of loyal — and happy — customers. And Ikoula can meet the needs of any size business.

“Ikoula has web solutions for companies as small as a neighborhood baker or butcher or as large as global firms that need platforms and servers customized for their needs,” Guillaume said.

The company supports a global customer base, organizations making a difference, and even the environment, all while managing and protecting valuable data. It is a challenge, for sure, but one for which Ikoula has been preparing for nearly two decades.