Photobooks, cards, stationary, birth announcements and wedding invitations via the Internet are fairly modern things, but Shutterfly’s CEO Jeff Housenbold traces the beginnings of what his company does back much further.
“The essence of what we do has been intrinsic to human kind since the beginning, when cave men were sketching on cave walls,” he said during a panel at SXSW earlier this year. “The technology has changed, but we’re just helping people tell their story and share life’s joy,” – at internet scale, the panel moderator Michael Dell interjected.
In 1999 when Shutterfly pioneered online photo sharing, Housenbold says it was hard to convince people to take their pictures and put them on to their server. Users worried about sending their personal keepsakes into the cloud, but the desire to share easily with family and friends created an inflection point.
“Since then we’ve been scaling and are now approaching 100 petabytes of data and 22 billion of our customers precious memories safe in the cloud in three different locations,” said Housenbold. Shutterfly has been through generations of technological advances to do that and “Dell’s been a great partner as we’ve come from a little company with a couple thousand customers to 65-70M users last year.”
Shutterfly’s CIO Geoffrey Weber says that technology is really everything to their business.
“Shutterfly is 100 percent online and 100 percent dependent on technology that’s high-performing, functional and cost-effective,” Weber noted. “If our customers come to the site and it’s slow, they will go to a competitor. They only have a finite amount of time to get a holiday card finished, and if they’re not having a great experience, they’re not coming back.”
Dell PowerEdge servers and the Dell KACE systems management solution ensure reliability for them and automate software deployment and patching. With Dell technology solutions, Shutterfly can easily provision its website during peak times; and the company can ensure high availability and a better customer experience.
That customer experience is vital to their seven premium lifestyle brands as Housenbold notes they are really in the business of “helping people connect and deepen their relationships with the people who matter most in their life and helping make the world a better place by telling your story and sharing life’s joy.”
The technology is at its best when those customers never have to think about it.