The Saskatchewan Story: BlackSun Inc.
BlackSun is a Saskatchewan based webhosting company, successfully competing in a world market. Using the most innovative technology and values, BlackSun has swiftly become one of Canada’s top three webhosting providers as recognized by an independent firm, Top Hosts (http://ca.tophosts.com). BlackSun plans to continue to lead the industry with its innovation, to expand the range of services offered to its existing members, and to serve its anticipated growth in new members.
This dynamic and flourishing company was the brainchild of CEO Jay Tingley and was founded by him in 1998. Today it is jointly operated with his business partner Steve Rogochewsky both of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Both were looking for fast reliable Canadian web hosting in their respective careers and found that nothing met their respective needs, therefore decided to create what they felt was lacking in the field. The merging of Jay’s background in the publishing industry with Steve’s networking and consultant skills created the perfect blend for success.
Jay Tingley was born in Saskatoon and has spent his life in Saskatchewan. Whilst living in Hague, the Tingley family purchased their first Apple computer – a loyalty that still continues to this day. At the age of ten, Jay sat with his father whilst he unpacked the box and was set to assemble the computer with the aid of the manual, when Jay stepped in and said that he could do it by himself. An initiative that Jay continues to show with computers and technology, constantly pushing boundaries. He has always possessed patience and an ability to see each task through to the end, also having the ability to constantly look into the future.
Steve Rogochewsky grew up on a farm near the town of Dilke. He built his first computer at the age of six from a kit bought by his dad from Princess Auto. Whilst attending college, Steve worked at the Air Force base in Moose Jaw as a Computer/Electronics Communications Technician, he also did a work term with IBM in Calgary. Steve graduated from Palliser College in Moose Jaw with an Electrical Systems Engineering Technology Diploma. Upon graduating he worked for Sasktel at their Business Data Communications Center in Regina, his next move was to Saskatoon where he spent the next two years working for Develcon / Trinexxus. Towards the end of his two years, Steve formed his own internet consulting business called SMR Consulting. It was here that the paths of Steve and Jay crossed, Steve had hired Jay to undertake some design work of behalf of one of his clients.
The small company of just two began in the basement of Jay’s home, with their first server located in New Jersey. To provide truly reliable service to their expanding member base, the server needed to be located on its own network. Within the first year of business, BlackSun had grown enough to allow the company to relocate several servers back to Canada, along with a small office, to the Research Park at Innovation Place. BlackSun’s move to Innovation Place in the fall of 2000 allowed the company to accelerate the innovation it could now offer to its members. To date, BlackSun employs over 18 people full time in a new, state of the art 5000 sq ft office. To keep up with the continued growth, BlackSun is slated to move into a new 8500 square feet office in Innovation Place, where we will be looking to hire 20 to 30 employees over the next two years.
Quite an achievement for two people starting out with just an idea, as they say from small acorns……..
BlackSun is the largest Webhosting company in Saskatchewan, hosting over 10,000 domains and still growing. Our membership has increased by approximately 200% over the last year – not surprising since Saskatchewan Business Magazine recently rated BlackSun as the second fastest growing company in the province. Annual growth has been reported at 1666 per cent per year over the last four to five years. We are providing a high caliber service to businesses of Saskatchewan that cannot be duplicated elsewhere in the province. Having this service available has fostered the growth of design companies and related industries in the province, as they have not had to look outside the province for webhosting needs. However, currently 90 per cent of BlackSuns’ revenues still come from other provinces, the United States and the international community. We gainfully employ taxpaying consumers, of which 25 per cent have been recruited from out of province. As we continue to grow, we will recruit more of these highly skilled technicians to the province. We also continue to work with educational institutes, such as the Heintz institute, to begin offering courses in technical support and CISCO networking and routing. Previously there had been no demand for these skills. All of this has the benefit of attracting brilliant minds and educators to our province, therefore securing Saskatchewan’s’ future as a leader.
Now that you have a little background about us, let us tell you about our operation……
Saskatoon is a great location geographically, we are located far enough north to be clear of dangerous weather systems (hurricanes, floods, etc.). We are also the farthest spot from any fault line, which is increasingly more an issue with USA based (and even West Coast data centers) which are starting to be affected by earthquake tremors. In the event of complete power failure, our system is powered by generator power indefinitely.
Our network consists of multiple, redundant OC3 and DS3 connections through Sprint, Group Telecom, Big Pipe and Innovation Place Research Park, utilizing the latest Cisco Switching and Core at Innovation Place. We have another Cisco router which currently controls a DS3 feed to Sprint Canada’s’ core, with a third router with gigabit feed to BigPipes’ core. All of our networks are physically independent of each other and are distributed over multiple locations in our data rooms, our internal switching system is also connected via multiple pathed Cisco switches. The firewalls we have in place protect from basic attacks as well as port blocking. We hand off our Internet feeds to Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg. This allows us to ensure that we have 100 per cent uptime in our Internet connections, something that is important to us and our clients in today’s fast moving world. Should eastern Canada suffer core internet problems, we can pull all of the internet capacity from western Canada. It would also help in the event of emergency fatal fiber cuts, as our internet paths are independent of each other. All of our servers are located in a temperature-controlled, secure environment with multiple power grids, full generator and UPS power back-up We have taken great care to ensure that every avenue is explored therefore, ensuring that our clients have the most advanced technology at their disposal constantly.
We offer numerous webhosting plans and services, from home business to the corporate industry. Whether you’re looking to simply host a plan with us or need to locate servers in a technologically advanced and secure location, we have thought of it. The core success of BlackSun has been our focus on Fast, Reliable Hosting and friendly knowledgeable staff. We have spent significant time on Research and Development and have applied this to offer a feature rich Web Hosting solution. BlackSun currently leads the industry in security, reliability, network and server performance. Last year we were awarded a SABEX Award (Saskatoon Achievement in Business Excellence) for Innovation and were finalists for Growth and Expansion
We estimate that more than 50 per cent of our sales can be attributed to ongoing innovation from within the company. We continue to deliver reliable, high performing webhosting with guaranteed satisfaction and uptime. Hosted on the most sophisticated and modern equipment available. Our clients are understandably drawn to this industry leader when looking for a webhosting provider. Our ability to provide fast, reliable service to our clients stems directly from the unique organizational structure in place. Employees work in teams, with each empowered to make decisions. The Technical team is trained in both Sales and Customer Service, allowing them to handle all of the clients’ needs/problems. The support teams have immediate access to higher level advanced technical service groups who also correspond directly to the client. Company hierarchy is minimal, with the teams floating around an idea center as opposed to stacked based on skill. Ease of interoffice communication is key, not only in keeping member response time to a minimum, but allowing BlackSun to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. The people at BlackSun, their attitude and willingness to do things differently, are what gives us the leading edge over others in the industry.
BlackSun wants to lead the industry with technological trends and advancements. We have utilized leading edge technology before it was available on the market. This ensures that our clients receive better performance at BlackSun than they would anywhere else in the world, by employing technology up to six months in advance of any other in the industry.
All of this could not have been possible without the exceptional people who work at BlackSun. The company recruits ambitious, idea generating people who have the desire to use BlackSun as a vehicle, as the owners do, to continually raise the bar on webhosting services. BlackSun empowers these same people to take their ideas to fruition. The company’s unique environment encourages and communicates innovation. No idea, no mater how small, is ever passed over without consideration. Our company is like our province, diverse with culture and experience, comfortable with its past and looking to the future with enormous pride