What is web Hosting?
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that hosts websites for clients, i.e. it offers the facilities required for them to create and maintain a site and makes it accessible on the World Wide Web. Companies providing web hosting services are sometimes called web hosts.
Typically, web hosting requires the following:
- one or more servers to act as the host(s) for the sites; servers may be physical or virtual
- colocation for the server(s), providing physical space, electricity, and Internet connectivity;
- Domain Name System configuration to define name(s) for the sites and point them to the hosting server(s);
- a web server running on the host;
- for each site hosted on the server:
- space on the server(s) to hold the files making up the site
- site-specific configuration
- often, a database;
- software and credentials allowing the client to access these, enabling them to create, configure, and modify the site;
- email connectivity allowing the host and site to send email to the client.
With the interruptions brought about by Covid-19 online business is growing as many businesses move online in order to continue offering their goods and services to their customers. This trend has opened opportunities for expansion for existing web hosting companies and further created room for new operators .The current focused suggest this trend is likely to continue as as many realize the challenges of physical stores with major brands closing some of their physical stores and opting for online stores.Even in instances where a physical store exists the benefits of an online store both for direct sales or for online marketing cannot be gain said.
Benefits of doing business online
The many benefits of online business include:
- cost savings emanating from fewer staff and also lower hosting cost compared to rents and other physical store costs.
- opportunities to manage your business from anywhere in the world.
- global access, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- less paper waste.
- improved client service through greater flexibility
- faster delivery of products. In the case of online services the delivery can be instant.
- increased professionalism and standardization of service.
What to consider
When setting up a web hosting service you have to make some key and critical considerations key among them being:
- Reliability and uptime
Being critical considerations we will discuss this further below in detail so us to give you a clear picture and assist you make your final decision. We will also where possible suggest solutions to assis you make an informed decision and further recommend products that we have also tested and used so we can vouch for.
Hackers are always on the lookout for server vulnerabilities. It is your responsibility to ensure your data is safe and secure. Minimize risks and be confident your data is safe on secure servers by implementing our server security. When running a web hosting server security is paramount in order to protect own data and that of websites hosted on your servers. Security is also very critical as it plays a role in ensuring the websites rank favorably in search engines. Search engines have confirmed that security is an important ranking factor and hence websites which are insecure will not rank favorably. Towards this end websites should be free of malware, brute-force attacks and phishing attacks and other vulnerabilities. key towards this is also the https protocol which ensures data transfer between the host servers and browsers are encrypted to safeguard site visitors from malicious attacks. There are available software to ensure the servers are secure and we have good experience with bitninja as a server security platform. Bitninja also ensures minimal use of server resources since it is cloud based and thus does not consume your own server resources. Further Bitninja is an all-in-one security suite enabling you to secure your servers without having to subscribe to multiple platforms to meet your server security needs
Reliability and uptime
It is also critical that servers have a high up-time which guarantees good user experience and crawlability by search engines. Without crawling content cannot be indexed and indexing ensures content will show up in search engines result pages (SERPS).With high incidences of server down time the search engines will pick up server errors( 5xx errors).With high errors the websites of your customers will also not rank as high as they should everything else held constant. It is important to put in mind that the success of your hosting business is as good as the success of your customers because it is through their success that they are able to continue subscribing to your services.
The cost of operating hosting servers is made of cost of acquiring servers, securing the servers, maintenance of the servers and also cost of managing and serving your customers. When it comes to acquiring servers you basically have options which include :
- acquiring own servers, and
- running cloud servers which is a concept that has lately gained ground as opposed to running own servers.
Choice of own servers is an expensive undertaking since you have to acquire the hardware and be responsible for maintenance of the hardware and also the necessary software to operate the servers and eventually the replacement/upgrade of the servers as you scale up you business. On the other hand operating cloud servers removes the cost of owning and managing the servers thus leaves you with the task of marketing your hosting services and managing clients. This removes a significant cost to your operations and in most cases guarantee regular upgrades since the server owners are responsible for owning and managing the servers and also take charge of the upgrades to keep pace with the trends in the industry.
Based on current trends where hardware-as-a-service (HAAS) is growing and costs reducing our opinion would be that this is the way to go for any aspiring web hosting company. In the recent past even old hands in the hosting business are opting to go the cloud hosting way and there are no shortage of cloud service providers with main players being Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Linode, Vultr,IBM cloud,Contabo,Kamatera,Liquidweb and many more. The choice of provider is both a mix of features and pricing.
From the foregoing it is therefore our opinion that in setting up a hosting business acquisition of own servers is not a good option and we therefore consider it a foregone conclusion that choice of cloud servers is the best option. In choosing cloud servers again the issue of cost and the owners involvement in managing the servers and clients come into play.
Here below we discuss the available options based on owner preference of cost absoprtion and also level of involvement in running and managing the business.
Alternatives to consider
1. Reseller hosting
Reseller hosting, sometimes referred to as white label hosting, allows you to create your own web hosting company without having to incur the costs of server maintenance, software, site uptime, and more. In other words reseller Hosting can be said to be a hosting service where you, the reseller, rent out your services to your customers, in turn, earning a profit. These web hosting services include server bandwidth, CPU, disk space, RAM, etc. You generally acquire a reseller hosting account with all the required hardware and software to run a web hosting business from an already established hosting company and offer the same to other customers who you acquire through marketing of your brand. Your customers will get acquainted with your brand while you are riding on the platform of a bigger brand.
This gives you the ability to launch your hosting business almost immediately.
Advantages of Reseller Hosting
Plans for reseller hosting are fairly cheap. This is why they’re a good option for people looking to get into the web hosting business. Additionally, it simplifies things because you don’t have to purchase the technology, infrastructure, and equipment usually needed to become a web hosting service provider.
- Focus on the Business
When you choose reseller hosting you can focus on the business aspects rather than the technical aspects of running a web hosting business. This is because all of the tasks related to updates, server maintenance, connectivity, security and so forth, are the responsibility of the web hosting service you’ve rented or purchased from.
- Room to Expand
If you have a website that gets a lot of traffic, has a lot of pages or your business has several sites, reseller hosting will provide you with a larger number of features and space. For instance, you can run different parts of your sites from different URLs and different servers without having to purchase additional hosting plans.
- Additional Features
In comparison to basic hosting plans, reseller hosting has a greater number of features. The control panel for the website will also be more powerful, enabling you to manage your site more effectively. Furthermore, a lot of companies will offer unlimited SSL certificates as well as features such as Cpanel.
- Build Your Brand
Although you’re selling the resources of another web hosting service provider, reseller hosting lets you build your own identity and brand. Essentially, this means that clients won’t know that you’re renting from another web hosting company.
- Income Opportunities
It’s possible to make additional profit from reseller hosting by selling add-ons such as SSL Certificates, Dedicated Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated IP, domain name registrations, etc.
Disadvantages of Reseller Hosting
- You’re Dependent on the Original Web Hosting Company
The quality of the original web hosting company will determine the success of your business. This means that if their server regularly goes down or if there are a lot of technical issues, your business will be affected.
- You’ll Need to Dedicate Time to Customer Service
If you’re providing a web hosting service, even if its reseller hosting, you’re still responsible for answering questions from clients. If you don’t take the time to answer these questions correctly, it could ruin your business.
- High Level of Difficulty
Unless you’re an expert at running a website you’re going to find the features and control panels of reseller hosting difficult.
- Changing Providers will Affect Your Clients
If you decided to change your web hosting provider you have to shift all the data from your clients. This can be incredibly difficult so it’s recommended that you have a dedicated server or Virtual Private Server (VPS). Having a dedicated server or VPS will make it easier to change providers but it does make things more expensive.
- Limited Access to the Server
You are going to have to go through your web hosting service provider for most things because reseller hosting only offers limited access to the server.
2. Own servers
- Virtual private servers
A virtual private server (VPS) is a virtual machine sold as a service by an Internet hosting service. The virtual dedicated server (VDS) also works in a virtualized environment but some CPU cores are dedicated for it, which is not the case with VPS. … A virtual server costs much less than an equivalent physical server.
- Dedicated servers
A dedicated server is a type of web hosting in which a client has the exclusive use of an entire server.A dedicated server will cost more and require more tech knowledge. However, it gives you the flexibility to run the server your way and won’t have your site slowed down by the others hosted on a shared server. You’re able to control your security measures, the software that it runs on and the server’s technical limitations. If you’re planning on generating a lot of web traffic or needing more data and bandwidth, a dedicated server is the way to go.
Advantages of Cloud Hosting
- Increased Server Uptime
Your website’s performance is directly correlated to the server uptime. The system of interconnected servers ensures there is no single point of failure. If any server goes down or cannot take your request, another server from the cluster takes over by default keeping everything running smoothly. With traditional hosting, however, any downtime or failure on your single server could result in extended downtime for your applications and website.
- Cost- Efficiency
With cloud hosting, you do not have to worry about capital expenditure on infrastructure – providers handle that for you. Additionally, you only need to pay for the services and resources that you are actually using. In a traditional hosting model, however, you need to invest in infrastructure and also pay a fixed amount for services and resources regardless of whether you use them.
- Increased Security
In the traditional hosting model, resources and CPU capacity on a single server are shared among multiple websites. Additionally, you need a private dedicated server to secure sensitive information which is costly.
Cloud hosting, on the other hand, comes with an established infrastructure with multiple layer security; data, network, application and physical security. Cloud service providers also provide secure and encrypted solutions, backup recovery, firewalls, identity management and data isolation and storage segregation.
- Scalability of Resources
Cloud hosting makes it incredibly easy to instantly allocate resources in accordance with the emerging needs of a website or application. You can add or reduce resources like storage, bandwidth, RAM etc. from the available resources in the cluster of servers.
A traditional hosting setup has rigid specifications and limited resources. You cannot instantaneously ramp up resources if the need arises.
- Independence of Location
Traditional hosting servers are tied to a fixed location. For this reason, you need to choose a server that is fairly close to you so as not to compromise your websites loading speed.
Cloud hosting servers, on the other hand, are available and accessible via the internet and with any PC or mobile device, from any location around the world.
- Increased Group Collaboration
Through cloud hosting, employees can access and work on the same documents or applications from any location around the world. This increases flexibility in work practices and productivity.
This feature is not feasible in traditional hosting.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery
The cloud hosting multi-server setup allows for data to be automatically backed up. This provides for a fast and easy disaster recovery feature.
In the single-server setup of traditional hosting, disaster recovery is not feasible as there is only one server that hosts your data and applications. For disaster recovery, you need to make special arrangements for backup.
- Latest Technology
Cloud hosting takes advantage of the latest technologies. You can automatically integrate and customise your software applications based on your business’ needs and preferences. This includes software versions, server upgrades and processing power.
Traditional hosting does not allow you to automatically customise or upgrade.
- Environmentally Friendly
Cloud hosting reduces an organisations carbon footprint by eliminating the need to maintain in-house servers.
Cloud servers are utilised to full capacity which saves energy and the environment.
When you opt for your own servers be they Virtual or dedicated you will also need some software to effectively run and manage the server and also since this is in the context of a web hosting company you will also need software to be able to acquire and manage your client/customers once you acquire them.
We will split this into two parts being software you need to run the servers and secondly software you need to manage your customers. As we mentioned since this is software we are already using to run our operation of a web hosting business and also given the limitations of what we can discuss in this article we will only list and not discuss the software except where it may be absolutely necessary but we will provide links to where you can further learn more about the software and if you opt you can also purchase directly from those sites.
- Web server- Runs in the background and is set up when setting up the server. This is the core operating system and manages all other installations on the server and facilitates connection of the server to the internet. Here you will find Apache, Microsoft server and Litespeed. We prefer Litespeed which is an Apache drop in web server because of its performance which greatly improves server speed.Since it is an Apache drop-in when the subscription expires your server revets to Apache.and reverting back to Litespeed is quite easy within the Cpanel control panel.
- Control Panel-This is to manage the server in terms of the features you want to run in your server and services you need to manage in the server.We have used both Cpanel and Cyberpanel at different times .Our choice and recommendation is Cpanel/WHM.
- Server security-This is purely to secure the server. There are many options but as mentioned earlier we settled for Bitninja which is an all in one web security suite.
To manage customer acquisition journey and also ease managing the same to on board and in enhancing customer retention you following will be in good company with the below applications:
Convertkit-ConvertKit is an email marketing software that helps online creators earn a living through email marketing. ConvertKit is an email marketing software for bloggers that have many paying customers, sends millions of emails per month, and grow revenue quickly. ConvertKit helps bloggers use email lists to grow business through attractive forms, trackable data, and simple but powerful automations.
WHMCS– Is the leading web hosting management and billing software that automates all aspects of your business from billing, provisioning, domain reselling, support, and more. WHMCS easily integrates with all the leading control panels, payment processors, domain registrars and cloud service providers.
If you are considering moving to the cloud, it is important to remember that cloud hosting is the newer technology and the trends are showing that it is the technology of the future. Therefore, sooner or later, irregardless of the many benefits that cloud hosting offers over traditional hosting, you will need to move to the cloud.