In the early stages of a growing IT department one of the biggest decisions managers face is whether to follow an on-premise or outsourced technology strategy.
This is often a tough choice, which can have long-term implications for the company both in terms of cost and complexity.
If a company decides to build their own server infrastructure and data centers they need a strong stomach for change, complex installation (and maintenance) issues, security challenges and a realization that costs may escalate exponentially if incorrect technology decisions are made.
Generally, there is a strong argument for off-shoring your IT complexity to a remote web hosting company who has spent considerable amounts of dollars and time in building robust, stable and reliable server platforms in ultra-secure data centers with world-class backup and support facilities.
Once you have made the decision to offshore your website and IT operations to a hosting company you then need to choose a flavour of server hosting you feel comfortable with. This choice is often tempered by costs, complexity and the amount of control you feel comfortable with.
This is the most basic level of web hosting available to a company or consumer. It’s also the cheapest due to the fact that you share resources with up to several hundred other customers on the same server. This popular package allows you to start off small and fine-tune your website without spending an arm and a leg on server infrastructure.
It’s great for basic websites, blogs or small database-driven websites with small amounts of monthly visitors.
Once you start to grow you may find this solution does not meet all your performance or storage requirements.
An alternative to shared hosting, is to leverage a dedicated hosting package with your host. This allows you greater control of your box via remote management tools. You are safe in the knowledge that you are no longer sharing resources with other websites.
High bandwidth and a generous amount of disk space allow you to customize the server in just about any fashion you like. Install applications at will and partition drives if you so wish. You can implement various layers of security and access further VPN and firewall options provided by the hosting company.
Dedicated servers generally cost a bit more in monthly fees, but this is offset by the ability to customize your solution and manage growth. Generally a web host will help you monitor and troubleshoot your server giving you an extra level of comfort.
In last several years, a revolution has been taking place in web hosting which promises to combine the strengths of both shared hosting and dedicated servers. It’s called cloud hosting and allows a company to access server resources “as a service” over the Internet.
This “on-demand” approach allows you to self-provision resources, as you need them in a pay-as-you-go manner.
Further, the technology is self-healing: If there is a hardware failure your website will automatically start up on another server in seconds.
In short, cloud hosting promises to lower costs, reduce complexity and ensure you only pay for what you need.
The previous discussion demonstrates the choices available to you between reliable traditional hosting packages and hot new emerging server technologies encompassed by the cloud.
While each package has its own strengths and weaknesses the ultimate success of your selection depends on the reliability, stability and customer support options offered by your web host. Carefully analyze these areas before making your final decision.
Guest Blogger: Jason Stevens from jason-stevens.com / Freelance web developer, tech writer and follower of cloud computing trends. Follow him on Twitter @_jason_stevens_
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