Posts Tagged ‘website hosting’
Why do some organizations choose to host their own Web site on their own managed servers, while others contract with a Webhosting company or purchase their ecommerce hosting services through an ISP (Internet service provider)?
While cost (including risk) and flexibility are often the two primary considerations when choosing how to host a website, understanding distinctions among Webhosting options and the pros and cons of each will help you pare down the list to something considerably more manageable, ensuring that you make the best decision.
Webhosting plans can be categorized broadly into two types: virtual server hosting and dedicated server hosting. Small to medium-sized businesses typically choose a virtual server plan where multiple ecommerce web sites are hosted on space within a single server. This service allows you to share a server with others, but your site is further protected or isolated with its own server resources including processor, memory, and disk storage. This arrangement works well for small sites that rely on dynamic generation of content from a backend database, small ecommerce sites, or for customers who wish to manage several separate web sites.
The reason that vendors can offer low-priced domain hosting for virtual private servers is because the customers look the same and require a set of web services that are essentially identical from site to site. Webhosting vendors who are able to package similar services across a huge volume of customers most effectively are generally the most successful since they can capture substantial economies of scale.
Dedicated hosting on the other hand is an option for mid- to large-sized businesses that require or desire the flexibility that comes with dedicated servers. While more expensive, this type of plan generally provides a higher level of security, support, and maintenance with a guaranteed level of availability. Offering this type of guarantee generally reflects a level of redundancy within the vendor’s data-center operations that severely decreases the chances of downtime or removes the risk all together. Depending on the vendor’s plan, flexibility means you can write and run your own custom scripts or applications and even use a content management system to manage the web site but not worry about managing the network, server hardware, or operating system.
The easiest decision will likely be whether you intend to host the site yourself or contract with a webhosting vendor. Scale is the primary decision-making factor. Going it alone takes money and the willingness to assume the activities and risk associated with managing the server hardware, software, and connectivity. For organizations that already have a dedicated IT staff and data center, hosting may be an affordable option. The IT department may, in turn, offer a shared server arrangement where organizational entities such as the organization’s library are provided space on the server. But for those who are unable to tap into existing resources or who are working for companies without IT resources, contracting with an external webhosting provider is the only cost-effective option.
Narrowing the choices down can be difficult since there are so many vendors from which to choose. The first step is to list your requirements for developing, managing, and offering a web site to your users. For very simple sites, the vendor may provide tools for creating and managing your site along with available services to extend your site’s offerings, such as online form capabilities. Alternatively, you can use your own HTML authoring tool and upload pages as needed.
Vendors try to make choosing plans as easy as possible by packaging most-requested services together into specific webhosting plans. Doing so allows customers to more easily select what they need; they also benefit from a cost structure that can be kept fairly low. Most plans require an upfront set-up fee along with a monthly fee covering the plan you choose and any additional services (extra e-mail boxes, additional storage, etc.) that you request.
Finally, choosing a webhosting vendor can be confusing due to the array of options. A winning approach includes developing your list of requirements along with a plan for current and future growth to allow you to substantially clarify how your needs map out against your domain hosting options.
For those webmasters whom desire more control over their website hosting environment, virtual private server, or VPS web hosting is a viable alternative. The extremely low cost web hosting service provided by shared hosting has it’s limitations. Because a single server is home to possibly several hundred websites, some of their resources such as CPU, disk space, and bandwidth have to be shared by all of the individual hosting account customers. These shared resources normally are not necessarily an issue for small to medium sized sites. The major limitation is the restraint of control over system level software such as http servers, mail servers etc. You don’t have options such as being able to select a different operating system and you cannot compose programs or do administrative functions like putting Spam filters or firewalls in place. For most of you this isn’t a problem because you either don’t know how or don’t want to do that stuff anyway! The majority of website owners don’t have any interest or the skills to deal with this sort of work and are content to leave it to the hosting company. Those who want or need more control over their server situation or desire to try out new software, however, can attain this level of management with a Virtual Private Server.
A virtual private server (VPS) is a physical server that has been split into several virtual machines by software. Each of these divisions acts as an autonomous dedicated server. The physical resources such as RAM, CPU and disk space are still shared, but each VPS acts independently of the others. Each VPS can even have a different operating system and can be configured any way you want. The central asset of VPS is that it lets each VPS administrator have access to the root level of his virtual server. This accessibility allows the web master to install and remove software, set permissions, and create accounts. You have the same control as if it were a “real” server. In addition to allowing you a greater degree of control over your hosting environment, a VPS is more secure than shared hosting. If a hacker were to gain access to the root of a shared server he could wreak havoc on any or all of the websites on that server. A VPS is sub-divided in such a way that even if a hacker were to obtain entry through one account, he could not get to the others. Each VPS is invisible to the others and there is no way to set up root level access from one VPS to another.
The most common configuration of virtual private servers (VPS) is to evenly divide all of the physical resources by the number of accounts. So if there are 10 virtual servers, each would be allocated 10% of the total bandwidth, CPU, memory and disk space. The control that a VPS account provides can get you into a real mess if you don’t understand what you are doing. You are capable of deleting files, setting permissions improperly, allowing virus-laden software on the system and, in general, really putting your website in jeopardy. If you don’t have the skills necessary to administer a server, or are not able to get assistance, VPS is not a wise choice for you. If your website has grown beyond the capabilities of shared hosting, then, VPS may offer an affordable option to dedicated hosting. Be certain to ascertain how system resources are divvied up, how many VPS accounts are on each physical server, how you upgrade if needed, and what the choices of operating systems are.