For those of you following ArcticStartup’s development, you may be wondering what happened to our CEO, Antti Vilpponen. Today Antti is announcing that he has taken a job at UpCloud, a Helsinki-based hosting service in a General Manager position. He invited us to his downtown office with a beautiful view over Helsinki’s harbour to show off how well he’s making it in the real world. But enough about Antti, UpCloud is an interesting cloud solution for startups looking for hosting, or researchers that need a couple cores for data crunching.

UpCloud is a spinoff from Sigmatic, a Finnish hosting company that’s been in business for over 10 years. UpCloud has already gathered a few hundred customers since launching in May, and claims around 1,000 servers in production mode. Currently the service is only offered in Finnish, but they are soon launching an English version in the coming months. For the Finnish customers, the servers are available in Helsinki and London with the U.S. and Asia being also on the roadmap.

One of the first things you’ll notice when visiting the UpCloud site is the two slider bars where you control how many CPUs you need, and how much storage you think you’ll fill. This isn’t just a pricing gimmick for the homepage, it’s the basis for the service. Users can scale their exact memory and storage needs just by playing with a slider bar.

Reconfiguring the server is also simple and there is no need to re-setup anything, just adjust two sliders to your needs and you are done. Users can also automatically manage their servers through an API and if you want you can build your own dashboard for it. For instance the native dashboard is also built completely using their own API.

In comparison to Amazon Web Services, they offer a complete freedom of server specifications without having the need to go through the steps of choosing your server type and EBS/EC2 bundles.

Still, the biggest difference between UpCloud and other hosting solutions is that they’ve created their proprietary software from scratch. For example, Rackspace and a few other competitors base their platforms on open source software, like Openstack.

UpCloud thinks this can differentiate themselves from the competition because they’re not tied down to the same limitations that these open source solutions must face together. In the future Vilpponen claims this home-grown technology will allow UpCloud to be flexible when working with their customers.

The proprietary backend also allows the UpCloud team to have a deep knowledge in their system, allowing them to provide a 100% SLA.

When we first heard about Vilpponen’s new position, we only knew it was with a hosting company and we can’t say that we weren’t a little bit worried. After all, hosting is an extremely competitive industry and you would be standing up to the big boys such as Amazon Web Services and Rackspace.

Pricing wise, they are a close match to AWS, which is saying a lot considering the purchasing power of Amazon and their ability to get costs down. Impressively, UpCloud also claims that their margins are better than that of Rackspace.

It is fair to say, we were impressed. However we can’t deny that this ambitious goal of disrupting the industry will take some serious skills and marketing twists to achieve. After all, the competitors are not going to sit still, so UpCloud needs to act fast to gain and retain a significant market share of this fast growing industry.

We would like to thank Antti for everything he has done for Arcticstartup and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavor.

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