With this post, a new blog is born. Keep reading, as this isn't your typical blog by your typical Microsoft employee. My name is Deven Kampenhout. I'm not new to blogging, but you probably won't find my name on other blogs, as I've posted as an anonymous alias in the past. My blog wasn't only technically oriented, but was more of a creative expression of whatever was on my mind. This blog will be focused primarily on technology, especially about the battle between Microsoft and Open Source in the Hosting industry. This blog may be unique in that it will log my journey as I transition as a UNIX/Linux/Open Source technologist into a proponent of Microsoft technologies, software, and solutions. The rest of this post will be a history of how my life got to this point, so if you’re interested in my background, read on.

This week, I started working for Microsoft in the Communication Sector as a Hosting Evangelist. Professionally, I've been in the web hosting business for almost 7 years. My first internet experiences had me working on HPUX UNIX systems at the College of Engineering labs atBrighamYoungUniversity in 1996. I was captivated by the Internet and found myself spending all-nighters in the 24 hour lab figuring out how the Internet worked. Before too long, I had jobs working for the University building Web sites, creating content, and eventually building a rudimentary E-Commerce solution for the University book store.

In the summer of 1997, I went up to the Seattle area to begin working in an Internship. While I was there, I helped the small electrical engineering firm (ATD Northwest) establish its Web presence. I set up their web site with a hosting company named Virtual Servers, LLC. That same summer, I met my future wife. I returned to Utah to finish another Semester of school, returning to Seattle in the spring of 1998 to get married. While I was up there for the summer, I was fortunate to land a "summer" job with Virtual Servers, the same company that provided the web hosting services for ATD Northwest. I kept working through the summer and finally came to the point where I had a difficult decision to make: continue my exciting and promising career with “VServers”, or go back to school to complete my college degree. After much struggle over the decision, I decided that I was learning a great deal more at my new job than I was in college.

Virtual Servers focused on creating hosted web solutions for small to medium businesses. What differentiated this company from the rest of the fledgling hosting industry was our shared hosting product offering. Traditionally, you could either spend large monthly sums for your own “dedicated” server, or spend a fraction of the cost and host your web content on a server that shared other web sites. The disadvantage of “shared” hosting was a loss of flexibility and manageability. With a dedicated server, you could have full administrative access and customize your configuration to support your content. However, on the shared servers, most solutions gave very limited ability to add custom configurations, customize email and ftp account settings, etc. “VServers” came up with a hybrid solution, which created virtual server solutions which allowed each different account hosted on a shared system to be managed and configured as if it were a dedicated server. Initially, we only sold shared “VServer” solutions, but eventually some of our customers grew out of the resources that a shared system could offer, so we developed the “VServer Dedicated”. It was one of the first of a new type of hosting platform that would eventually be known as “managed dedicated solutions”.

At first, all of the VServer products were built on the “UNIX-like” BSD/OS operating system, distributed by BSDI (Berkley Software Design Inc.) At the time, Linux (RedHat) was still in its infancy (i.e. not very reliable yet), and Windows NT (IIS) was just beginning to pick up popularity in the infant web hosting industry. Before too long, it was apparent that without a Windows NT-based product, we were loosing business…

[ To be continued… ] (Part 2) (Part 3)