E-commerce: Six Things To Know Before Choosing a Web Host
Choosing a Web site host is an often overlooked piece of e-commerce strategy. Because it’s such a specialized portion of the e-commerce puzzle, many catalogers are unprepared to make an informed decision regarding Web hosting. Following are tips to help you make the right decision when choosing your Web host or considering a change to your current provider:
1. Understand the distinctions between different hosting options. As the e-commerce business has matured, hosting offers have split into several distinct categories, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
* Shared hosting allows you to share server space with other companies. The host manages the server almost completely, although you still maintain your site. The Good: It’s a cheaper option since multiple clients pay for the server. The bad (or potentially bad): But if one of those other companies experiences heavy traffic, your site’s performance will suffer.
* In collocated hosting, you purchase a server from a hardware vendor, such as Dell or HP, and you supply this server to the host. The host then plugs your server into its network and redundant power systems. The host is responsible for making sure its network is available, and you’re responsible for all support and maintenance for your server. The Good: Good hosts offer management contracts to their collocation clients so you can outsource much of the support to them and come to an arrangement similar to managed dedicated hosting. The bad: It’s up to you to come up with the hardware and software.
* Unmanaged dedicated hosting is very similar to collocation. The good: You lease a server from a host and do not actually own it yourself. The bad: Some limited support, typically Web-based, is included, but the level of support varies widely from host to host.
* Managed dedicated hosting means leasing a server from a host and having that company provide a robust level of support and maintenance on the server that’s backed by quality guarantees. The good: This maintenance typically includes services such as server uptime monitoring, a hardware warranty and security patch updates. The bad: Make sure your host is specific about which managed services are included so you can be sure it isn’t disguising an unmanaged dedicated offering as a managed dedicated server.