Archive for Features

Dec
12

Hosting Experts on Hosting

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Website hosting, vps, and dedicated servers are all shifting rapidly. The added uncertainty of the worldwide financial crises has created a new sense of urgency for hosting providers to adapt to this rapid change and thrive. What can we expect in the future for website hosting? Below are the expert opinions of four veterans of the web hosting, vps and managed server industries: Ron and David Dunlap – the esteemed publishers and editors of this blog and www.webhostmagazine.com, Daniel Foster – co-founder of UK vps hosting firm 34SP.com, and William Toll – an industry veteran of Affinity Internet, Intermedia and now with managed dedicated hosting firm Navisite. We asked each expert to render an opinion on the current web hosting state of affairs and to look forward into the future to share their thoughts.

Ron Dunlap: ”We have always believed that as long as the web hosting industry is a vital part of the Internet, the handful of objective web host directories and resource sites like WebHostMagazine.com will be around. Even as web host companies go through the inevitable consolidation of smaller companies getting gobbled up by larger ones, web developers, businesses, and others will be looking at honest web host resource sites like ours to find the best web hosts that meet their needs. We tend to think the industry will shrink in terms of the number of companies, but not necessarily in the number of customers. Back when the Internet bubble burst and the web host industry had some hiccups, we saw the larger web hosting companies buying up smaller web host companies more and more. We believe this will likely happen again. This kind of thing tends to be the norm. Smaller companies do not normally have the resources to handle their services as well as their customer’s needs. Many will be eager to sell their assets (namely their customer base) to larger companies looking for bargains.”

David Dunlap: ”A lot hinges on the size of the host, what their overhead is like, and what type of customers do they have. Times like these will be lucrative to hosts who provide enterprise solutions since many companies will be looking to outsource their hosting IT infrastructure. I would imagine these hosts will be looking to increase their marketing in order to obtain those customers. Conversely, I believe smaller budget hosts will probably decrease their marketing budget in order to stay lean. But as Ron said, this will be a time where larger hosts may be looking to consolidate by absorbing the customers of smaller hosts.”

William Toll: ”NaviSite’s dedicated hosting business will benefit significantly from several trends in 2009. First, we expect an increased interest from small businesses looking for a quality full service managed hosting provider to move to deploy their services and applications with. Small, financially questionable providers are now seen as a risk – while companies with significant experience with the enterprise that provide an affordable and accessible service for the small business will win new business.

Secondly, the capital crunch, and the increasing needs for additional and upgraded CPU power and servers are combining to drive interest in hosted managed dedicated servers and virtual dedicated servers. Windows Server 2008 and open source Linux based applications require new hardware and new licenses. The ”rented” high-performance multi-core CPUs and virtual CPUs and monthly license rental model is far more conducive to today’s finances than the massive capital outlays and consulting services required for onsite upgrades and new deployments.

Third, the interest in hosted applications, SaaS etc., has not only crossed over to the mainstream, but is now a preferable model for ‘utility’ needs like email, office collaboration/file and information sharing and CRM. The increasing popularity of hosted Exchange is the best example. With hosted Exchange businesses of all sizes can stop worrying about SPAM, increasing needs for storage and archiving and multiple mobile platforms for BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile and more.”

Daniel Foster: ”In 2009, I’m sure there will be more buzz about cloud and utility computing. I’m also sure that ”traditional” hosting companies which are good at what they do will continue to thrive. Not everyone has the technical expertise to manage a complex hosting solution so hosts that can provide solutions relevant to their customers should continue to see growth. At 34SP.com, we’re expecting to see our growth continue in 2009, and to be able to offer even better service and solutions to our existing and new customers alike.”

Ron Dunlap: ”We also see more web developers and business trending toward the grid and cloud computing options that are coming out. Each of these provide more security and reliability and as their costs come down, We can see them becoming dominant in more types of hosting services, including reselling and ecommerce.”

This content was written by Derek Vaughan exclusively for WebHostBlog.com.

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Nov
19

Reseller Web Hosting Options

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There have been a few developments recently in reseller hosting that focus the spotlight on some of the differences between different resellers and their approaches. Here are three resellers that have quite different approaches, but all offer solid products and services if you line up with the right one for your needs.

First on our list is the HostGator reseller programThat being said, the company is owned and run by Brent Oxley – a great young entrepreneur who has made service a genuine part of the HostGator culture. The other plus to this brand is that it is probably the single most popular subject at Web Hosting Talk. You can view this thread as an example of what users have to say regarding reselling through HostGator.

The next reseller program is one that while the smallest in our survey, may be the most compelling. The hosting reseller program at cheap web hosting company 34sp.com was recently in the news for a major revamp of the program. The reseller program is described on the company’s site as: ”You choose how your resources are allocated, you decide what domains you host and you control their exact setup. Reseller hosting is also provided in a non branded manner allowing you to resell hosting to your clients at any price you select.”

The 34sp.com program is probably best suited for those resellers in the European market or those who need a boutique style of truly personalized service. The reseller accounts are designed for those hosting between 1 and 50 accounts with larger reseller needs moving on to a VPS server. According to information provided by the company, each account ”permits the simultaneous hosting of 50 websites as standard. The plan also comes with support for 500 mailboxes, 50 MySQL databases, a full 1.5 GB of disk space, and a generous 15 GB of monthly transfer. Every reseller account also includes support for PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby on Rails, full log file access, cron and .htaccess. 34sp.com also includes a number of industry-leading tools with each account including free blog, CMS and forums installation.”

The company is owned and operated by two young and enthusiastic entrepreneurs, Daniel Foster and Stuart Melling. These partners run the business directly and have a strong sense of what can make resellers successful. As decribed by Mr. Melling, ”Mr. Melling added, ”Our reseller hosting accounts are perfect for professional developers, web designers, and small businesses looking to resell hosting services. The plan takes all the hassle out of multiple domain hosting. Everything within each account is controllable through a straightforward and easy to use online control panel. Clients can add, delete or modify their domain hosting as they want, and whenever they want. Each reseller account is backed by our renowned customer service team, which consists of experienced webmasters and developers. They know exactly what our customers need and how to best help them.”

The final reseller is also Europe based, but has recently announced a push to launch its reseller services in the U.S. Fasthosts operates a reseller program that begins to approximate the size and complexity of large reseller brands like ViaVerio. A great way to understand what the company is trying to accomplish is to view this video interview with the Chief Marketing Officer of Fasthosts, Steve Holford.

The company describes its reseller program as follows, ”Host as many domains and sub-domains as you need on your choice of Windows 2003 and Linux. No need for separate accounts or reseller web hosting providers. Set up and configure websites instantly.” Being a sister company to web hosting behemoth, 1 and 1 hosting, is both a plus and a minus for this company. The vast resources and marketing muscle of the world’s largest web host will launch the brand forward. The drawback is that huge scale makes swift change and nimbleness practically impossible.

One fact is evident from the recent developments in reseller web hosting – there is a wealth of opportunity is reselling web hosting on both sides of the equation.

This content was written by Derek Vaughan exclusively for WebHostBlog.com.

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Early in the morning, red lights go off and the network administrator once again has to address the problem of a server in the throes of death. An onslaught of terminated connections assaults the web site as the admin desperately tries to bring things back online.

Although this type of thing happens to a lot of companies who experience explosive growth, for SkyVantage enough was enough. It was time to clean up the network and find a practical solution to end the bottlenecks, split packets, and terminated SSL transactions.

The Skyvantage Airline Management System is a series of real-time modules that assist airlines through every step of their business. With passenger reservations, dispatch, flight operations to manage, and ensuring airlines could respond properly to the United States Department of Homeland Security, SkyVantage could not afford downtime let alone decreases in network performance.

When it came to their network, SkyVantage took more than half a year to test various load balancers to ensure they were able to have the best network possible, they owed it to their customers.

SkyVantage tried several load balancers from companies such as Zeus and Netscaler, but did not find the best solution until the tested KEMP Technologies.

SkyVantage determined a series of requirements for their load balancers. They would have to have high-availability, load balance across multiple servers, SSL acceleration, and use Layer 7 content switching. Since network availability meant everything, price was no option. When all their tests were down they were surprised at the outcome.

“We were very surprised to learn that the solution we selected was available at such an affordable price,” said Cory Robin, CEO of SkyVantage. “The KEMP LoadMaster outperformed every other product we tested, and some of the products cost as much as 100 times more than the KEMP product. At first, we found it hard to believe that the product with the highest performance also had the lowest price tag.”

After installing two LoadMaster 1500 appliances, SkyVantage was able to solve their network problems and paid for themselves upon installation. KEMP’s hardware wasn’t the only thing that one praise this day however. “We deal with many vendors at SkyVantage, and the customer support we get from KEMP is incomparable,” added Robin.

You might say this sound too good to be true or that it must be some sort of marketing ploy, think again. The LoadMaster 1500 appliance is a phenomenal load balancer and I think the testimonies of happy customers speaks far better than any sort of backroom marketing campaign.

If you want more information about the KEMP Technology load balancers they will be hosting a live online webinar on November 6th at 1:30 PM EST. As soon as more information comes out on this event I will post it here.

Until then happy hosting and may your networks always give you 100% uptime.

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Thanks to my friends at OpenSRS (the reseller service group of Tucows), I managed to get a copy of the results of one of their reseller surveys. What was interesting was the vast majority of resellers use social networking, but believe that social networks (or those who host social networks) are not a serious threat to their business.

This is a little naive I feel. I came to same conclusion that the folks at OpenSRS came to. I think Ken Schafer, VP of Product Management and Marketing at Tucows said it bets when he said:

“While the Web hosting industry does not view social networks as a threat to its business, people are going to functional-hosts for services that allow them to share information online. This demonstrates that there are opportunities for Web hosts to tap into consumers who embrace social networks – but these opportunities are being overlooked by the very industry that knows the Internet best.It’s important that as the Web hosting industry moves forward, we understand that Internet users are seeking a customized, personalized, Internet experience for both personal and professional reasons. Ultimately, it’s about customer relationships. Providers and resellers need to work together to provide the support, services and infrastructure that give users the best experience.”

Social networks are hosted by someone and they are garnering tremendous amount of traffic, the survey is a testament to that considering so many resellers are using them (60% of the resellers surveyed have their own blog and nearly 75% use one or more social networks like Facebook and Flickr).

There is untapped potential out their for the experts of the hosting industry, i.e. the Web Hosts, to cash in on this market. People have shown that the need these services and if they are not getting them from you, they will surely get them from others.

If customers are looking for the best experience then why not add a means for them to interact with and build a community? Giving them the tools will only go so far. If a customer of yours is building a community than it would be an opportune moment for you to help them. Maybe add a service that provides traffic or community awareness. Even post comments on their blog.

At the end of the day, the difference between you hosting social network services and a company like Facebook is that you can help provide the helping hand that will make your customers successful. Building relationships is not just for socializing it will (if not has) become a means for survival.

Take some time to think about that for a bit. And while you do that, happy hosting!

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A while ago I had written an article about web hosting data center operators preparing for hurricanes. You can read a copy here: http://www.hostpapers.com/article/228.

So now we are once again in the throws of hurricane season with the latest hurricance – named Gustav – poised to hit the Gulf coast almost exactly three years after Katrina hit New Orleans. This event brings to light an important but often overlooked aspect of online life: backing up your data.

So we all know that we should backup our data. If you work for a web hosting company then you know all too well the scenario where a site owner suffers catastrophe – only to then learn that the site data was insufficiently backed up.

I had a similar situation arise recently where my laptop was malfunctioning, and I realized that I hadn’t recently backed up my data. In reviewing my backup options and talking with some more technically minded friends who work for the VPS hosting experts at HostMySite.com, I came across a solution that I had not considered before (possibly because it wasn’t yet available): backing up my data to the ‘cloud’ through grid computing.

It turns out that Amazon S3 (Amazon’s grid computing offering) charges just $0.15/GB per month – that’s 15 cents per gig of data – to store whatever you choose to keep there. Additionally, you can access the data from any computer with Internet access – anywhere on the planet.

The mechanics of this – while not exactly rocket science – are not trivial either at this point. One needs an intermidiary piece of software to handle the mechnics of the backups and restore. You can read all the technical details of one person’s solution using S3 as a backup here: http://blog.eberly.org/2006/10/09/how-automate-your-backup-to-amazon-s3-using-s3sync/.

So why not just hang a USB drive off your laptop and back up to that? Well, first of all there is the cost. A decent hard drive costs over $100. If you need to travel and have access to the backups then there is the additional hassle and weight of taking the external hard drive with you.

Whatever the solution you choose – remember to back up your data early and often.

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