Finding Scalable Solutions for Business Web Hosting

By Sue Poremba

Sue Poremba is a freelance writer focusing primarily on security and technology issues and occasionally blogs for Rackspace Hosting.
Your website is the public face of your company. You want a site that easy to navigate and that provides all of the basic information about your company.

Your website also needs to be available when your customers need it. A website that is down for even an hour or two can be a serious blow to a small company’s reputation.

Do you know how reliable the provider you want to use really is?

“I always look for stability in both the networking hardware layers. If you don’t have stability there, no one can hit your web site and everything else is a waste,” said Vaughn Anderson, AppRiver’s internal applications manager.

Then there are other essential areas to consider: provider support, compliance and pricing.

“We view hosting as a commodity, especially during the development process,” explained Don Coleman, Director of Consulting at Chariot Solutions.

There are three essential areas that should be investigated when looking for a hosting provider: scalability, managed hosting, and reliability.

Scalability – Oftentimes people want something that will scale from the beginning but they don’t have the budget. It’s okay. As your application grows, many hosts expect you will need be able to tweak or migrate things. If you don’t know what these things are from the beginning, find a hosting partner that does so they can help you create a growth plan from the onset of the relationship.

Managed hosting – It really depends on your goals, as well as your skillset. If you are a development shop, going with a managed solution enables you to focus your efforts on developing a web site or application.Others want to have root access to their devices and don’t want others interfering with their equipment. In that case, a non-managed solution is best.

Reliability – Reliability today is measured by the host’s ability to react to the unknown. Many of the common problems of a decade ago have since been resolved.  Things like power outages from a host lacking a generator or network outages because of non-redundant networking gear are very rare. These days, reliability is closely related to security. If you are hosting in the same data center as someone getting attacked, you could be impacted.

Once you have these concerns researched, Anderson said the final step is to ask the provider to show you the breakdown of their services and strengths. “I would take those lists and try and compare them to meet the needs of your organization,” said Anderson. “If you don’t match yourself up with the right host, it will be a miserable experience for both of you.”