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Web Hosting: Don’t bother doing it yourself

Wed 26 Sep 2012
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Of all the IT centric services required by nearly every company in business today, web hosting is perhaps the one which best lends itself to outsourcing.

That’s in part owing to the simplicity of the task (on the face of it) and in part owing to the necessity for websites to be available at all times without fail.

Let’s start with simplicity. Web hosting is easy, right? All you need is some server capacity, readily-available know-how, and you’re in business. How hard can it be?

It is the second condition which quickly drives up the magnitude of the task. In today’s day and age, a website (or other hosted applications – since web hosting accounts for an ever growing number of services, some related to a website, others not) have to be online when people are. And people are online all the time.

To do your hosting properly, you’ll need to house that server somewhere, which means networking it and paying for rack space. Once you’ve got that in place, find a Systems Administrator to patch, update and maintain the servers.

Then get some staff members to provide support for everything from configuring Ioncube in PHP to adding FTP users. Whilst you’re at it, those servers need backing up; better buy a NAS device to take care of that. Oh, and while you’re there…set up some additional servers as your needs are bound to expand (they always do, for the ambitious business); add switching gear to cope with capacity and maybe hire a Network Engineer make sure it all runs smoothly.

Now you are hosting!

It is perhaps an unfortunate truth that web hosting often starts out so blindingly simple that it seems obvious to keep it in-house…but it very quickly grows and spirals into a complex environment which is increasingly depended-upon by your business.

Keeping the services running depends on a team which is prepared to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Web hosting is a tough mistress that never rests; technology is a capricious beast in which those servers that were bleeding edge today are suddenly creaking with age tomorrow, needing operating systems updates and rebuilds. This means more work, maintenance, downtime, hassle.

Unless you opt to outsource the problem to a specialist, where the skills, the technology and the ability to scale to meet your ever-changing requirements are an integral part of the package.

Done by a service provider, web hosting should come at a greatly reduced cost, which removes the burden of complexity and which can be purchased off the shelf from any number of well established service providers.

For most IT managers, the question is simple: why spend tens of thousands of dollars in capital expenditure to build something you have to manage, when you can spend a few hundred or a few thousand a month in operational expenditure?

Leaving web hosting to a specialist simply saves time, money and obviates a major and ongoing headache.

By Robin Dickie - Web Drive General Manager

This article can be found in the latest issue of IT Brief Magazine, available here

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