The Planet Completes Integration, Retires EV1Servers Brand

The Planet has completed its merger with EV1Servers and relaunched with a new web site, upgraded infrastructure and an emphasis on managed hosting. The integration of the two dedicated server providers, which were both acquired last May by private equity firm GI Partners, results in the retirement of the EV1Servers brand.

The Planet is now the world's sixth-largest hosting company, according to Netcraft's Hosting Provider Switching Analysis, with 1.89 million hostnames on its network, trailing only Go Daddy, 1&1 Internet, Microsoft, Google and Germany's Intergenia AG. The Planet says it now has more than 22,000 customers housed in six data centers, and combined revenue of approximately $110 million. It has also upgraded its network with high-speed 10 gigabit ethernet links with Level 3, Savvis, Global Crossing and Verio Networks.

The "new" Planet also hosts more than 16,000 SSL-enabled web sites, according to the Netcraft Secure Server Survey, making it the world's third-largest host in that category. Customers using SSL are typically more valuable because they are more likely to purchase additional services to ensure the security and performance of their e-commerce operations.

The Planet said it intends to make enterprise-level reliability available to small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), saying it will "introduce a new era of On-Demand IT Infrastructure capabilities for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs)." The company's expanded service offerings include more customized and industry-specific solutions for messaging, video and gaming. The Planet is also offering colocation as well as dedicated servers, perhaps a reflection of the strong demand for colo space in major markets.

The relaunch ends a six-month transition period under new CEO Doug Erwin, during which the management team combined the operations of the two huge providers. The Planet's growth was muted during the integration period, with hostname growth of 182K over the last six months. By comparison, the average increase for the five companies with more hostnames than The Planet during the same perod was 1.46 million hostnames.

EV1Servers was a pioneer in the dedicated server market, and was among the fastest growing hosts from 2002-2004. The company was founded in January 2000 by Robert Marsh as Rackshack, an offshoot of his Houston ISP, Everyone’s Internet. Rackshack found a niche offering Cobalt RAQ unmanaged dedicated servers for $99 a month, which at the time was well below market pricing for dedicated servers. In the first half of 2002, amid high-profile bankruptcies and shutdowns by "dot-com" hosting ventures, Rackshack grew by 88%. In October 2003 it rebranded as EV1Servers, as Marsh sought to create more unified branding for his companies. Marsh, the popular "Headsurfer," departed after his company was acquired last May.

GI Partners was founded in 2001 with more than $500 million in financial backing from CB Richard Ellis Investors and CALPERS, the world's largest public pension fund. Its primary focus was the data center sector, where it acquired properties at attractive prices due to oversupply and bankruptcies. In December it purchased Telx, a New York company providing network connection services in many of the country's premier Internet gateway facilities.