Where do you go when you want to build a business website? You can pay a consulting firm to build the site, but you still need to place the code on a web server somewhere on the Internet so that people can reach it. Whether you are a small business owner or a division manager within a corporate environment, your choices for the location of that web server are limited. You can set up your own Internet-connected web server, but you have to manage all aspects of it from the operating system to the pipeline that connects it to the Internet.
Or you can find a company that will “host” your web server. This type of arrangement has become quite popular because it allows you to quickly build and deploy a website by outsourcing all of the hassles of setting up and maintaining an Internet-connected web server.
The Host with the Most
The concept of Web Hosting is to let another company manage the physical aspects of the computer(s) on which your website reside. These aspects include:
Connection to the Internet
Security and Protection of the Machines
24 Hour Support
Depending on the contract you have with your web hosting firm, they may also provide:
Software Maintenance and Support
The monthly web hosting fees will depend on whether you are using your own equipment (located on their site) or are sharing the company’s resources with other website clients.
The Equipment Involved
Depending on the complexity of your website, you may have more than just a web server. Your set-up may include multiple web servers (linked together), a database server or a streaming media server (to provide streaming video/audio).
Each of those machines may have more than one operating system and require special software to be purchased and licensed for use on those servers. Application server software (like ColdFusion, Active Server Pages, etc.) may also be required.
Just the needs of the hardware and software alone will be enough to convince you to outsource this to a web hosting firm. But that is just the beginning.
The Rest of the Deal
If you visit a web hosting company’s website, they will talk about the capabilities of their hardware (processor speeds, memory, etc.) and the software they have running on the machines to help you build a business website. The hard disk space is always important, for this is where you will store all of the files, images and data that make up your website.
Then they will describe to you the concept of monthly transfer rate. Since they are paying for the high-bandwidth connection to the Internet (and make sure you are getting more than just a 720 Kbps DSL line!), they will allot you only so much traffic across that connection. Under this method, your business is paying for the fractional cost of the high-speed Internet connection.
Transfer rates of 5-20 GB per month are common (GB stands for “gigabytes” – one gigabyte is one thousand megabytes). This traffic is measured by the amount of data you send and receive from your web site. For instance, if your home page has 2 graphics that are each 20k in size, plus some text that adds another 40k, then your home page is a total of 80k in traffic each time a user requests the page. At that rate, 100,000 visitors to your home page in one month will take up approximately 8 GB alone in transfer traffic.
FTP Access is usually offered and necessary to upload any HTML, images or data files you need on the web server. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is the method of connecting to an Internet server in order to upload or download files. You cannot view web page files using ftp, only move them from one source to another.
SSL Encryption will be offered if you wish to have a secure server on which your visitors can conduct secure transactions. This is indicated in a visitor’s browser by the “https://” protocol in front of the web address. This also requires you to purchase a certificate from a registered company. That company will verify your company’s information and issue a certificate that contains information a visitor can view to see with whom they are dealing.
And finally, some web hosting services will offer Email Accounts. This usually involves a limited number of email addresses (usually called “POP” email accounts) and a limited amount of storage for your email messages. These accounts will usually also include “email forwarding” and “email autoresponders”.
“Email Forwarding” allows you to set up another email address to which you want emails sent when they arrive to a certain email address in this account. “Email Autoresponders” let you set up a standard message that is automatically sent back to someone who sends a message to a particular email address. Both of these functions are useful to business people who manage multiple interactions with their customers.
The idea of outsourcing the management of all web server hosting aspects has created a whole new industry. Most companies, large and small, find it more convenient and cost-effective to allow these new web hosting companies to do all of the work. This type of arrangement allows your business to build its website’s capabilities without having to be hardware and network experts.
Not every web hosting deal is equal. Read over the details carefully. It is important that you understand the type of website you will be building, the type of traffic your website will receive and the budget you have. All of these constraints will determine the best web hosting deal you can make.
Ishtot – Describing Technology in Terms of Business
Paul Carney has helped build and sell two online businesses and now uses his technical background and business knowledge to help business leaders understand today’s technical concepts in the context of business. For more information, visit www.ishtot.com
Ishtot – Describing Technology in Terms of Business Paul Carney has helped build and sell two online businesses and now uses his technical background and business knowledge to help business leaders understand today’s technical concepts in the context of business. For more information, visit www.ishtot.com