Your Most Important Online Business Decision

Written by Barbara Camisa

Your web business depends on your site's uptime aroundrepparttar clock. When you want to make a purchase online, you most likely takerepparttar 134405 time to checkrepparttar 134406 credentials of that business. Yet, how many of you actually bother to check outrepparttar 134407 credentials and competency of a web host, which is absolutelyrepparttar 134408 stronghold of your web business?

I've been inrepparttar 134409 hosting industry as a reseller for almost 5 years. It's become a zoo out there. With so many hosts coming and going, or sites constantly going down or getting cracked into from lack of security measures (very common), how can you really know for sure if you're going with a reliable and competent host?

Emailing to test their support response is NOT a good indicator of their response time. Some will be very fast for pre-sales questions, but extremely slow or non-responsive for support once you are a customer. Onrepparttar 134410 other hand, sometimes very slow for pre-sales and fast for customer support.

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when shopping for a web host:

First of all, be sure they have a phone number posted on their site. There's no reason why they shouldn't be reached easily via phone.

Phone them and ask questions. It's preferable to get a technically savvy person to call for you. You need to be assured thatrepparttar 134411 host's staff is competent and security conscious. There are so many variables in securing servers. Only a competent technical person would knowrepparttar 134412 key questions to ask, but importantly, can also tell by conversing withrepparttar 134413 host how competent they really are. I may sound redundant, but you'd be surprised at how many hosting providers wing their way i.e. they learn as they go along, thus, causing downtime and/or slowing downrepparttar 134414 speed of your website.

Also, discuss with them what your needs are for your business.

If you need any ofrepparttar 134415 following, it's vital that you find out ifrepparttar 134416 host can accommodate you:

Streaming Media - for live audio and video feeds

SSH (secure shell) - SSH is a secure telnet - Some programs need telnet access for installation. Also, if you want to add more data torepparttar 134417 data base that may be too large to install using a web-based data base system like phpMyAdmin (a common program provided by most hosts), it will require telnet access. If a host provides unsecure telnet, runrepparttar 134418 other way!

SSL (secure sockets layer) Certificate -This is needed if you'll be using a merchant account to take payments fromrepparttar 134419 web.

If you use an SSL Certificate, it is mandatory that you get an IP based account, whereby you get your own IP number instead of sharingrepparttar 134420 same IP number with several other accounts onrepparttar 134421 server.

Mailing List Accommodation - Many hosts are not equipped to accommodate large mailing lists on their email servers. So, if you have a large list and use your own list software, getrepparttar 134422 specifics on this.

Data Bases - Think about how many data bases you'll need to start with. For instance, if you'll be running a forum using php software, it will require one data base. You may decide to use a program to make your site data-base driven, that will be yet another data base needed.

The Host With the Most?

Written by Jason Shpik

Web hosting in one of its various guises should be considered by any enterprise embarking on e-business. The potential for cost savings and benefits through reaching customers and coming to market faster is huge, but there are also great risks. The principal danger is of choosing a Web hosting provider that is either unsuitable -- perhaps being unable to deliverrepparttar level of service you require -- or worse, about to go bust. The dangers ofrepparttar 134404 latter were demonstrated byrepparttar 134405 high-profile agonies suffered last year by PSInet,repparttar 134406 company previously touted asrepparttar 134407 "Internet super-carrier", which is now threatened with bankruptcy. The problem withrepparttar 134408 Web hosting business is that to make it viable, major investment has to be made up-front in data centres, staff and network infrastructure, inrepparttar 134409 hope thatrepparttar 134410 customers will then come flocking in. Although rapid growth in Internet use continued through 2000 despiterepparttar 134411 dot-com debacle, PSInet suffered because it was over-ambitious in its projections and a little ahead of its time. Caroline Bryan, Web hosting analyst at Datamonitor, says, "It over-reached itself and sunk too much money into its IP network and datacentres, whilerepparttar 134412 services did not take off quite as expected," This showed that size alone is no guarantee of success inrepparttar 134413 Internet service business, sorepparttar 134414 question is how can a potential Web hosting customer make sure it is entrusting its Internet shop window torepparttar 134415 right provider. After all, inrepparttar 134416 case of full outsourced Web hosting, an enterprise might be relying onrepparttar 134417 service provider to collect a sizeable proportion of its revenue through e-commerce, as well as to deal with customers. According to Bryan, hosting companies that have spun off from some existing large players in telecommunications or systems integration are better placed, because they have independent revenue streams and so rely less heavily onrepparttar 134418 goodwill and patience of their financial backers. The best UK example is BT Ignite, said Bryan, which although still losing money overall has a huge existing network infrastructure it can call on, as well as BT's IT solutions business Syncordia and its outsourcing company Syntegra. This point is echoed by other analysts, such as consultant and analyst Ovum's ISP-watcher Henning Dransfeld. "ISPs with a telco background can leverage their telecom network and are in a good position to offer good quality of service," he says. This includes not onlyrepparttar 134419 big incumbent carriers such as BT, but alsorepparttar 134420 likes of NTL with cable TV networks and in future others exploitingrepparttar 134421 unbundled local loop. It can be argued that BT has over-reached itself withrepparttar 134422 huge investment in 3G mobile networks on which there will be no immediate return. There is alsorepparttar 134423 little matter ofrepparttar 134424 $1.25bn ([pound]8.5bn) it is spending jointly with US telecoms giant AT&T over three years in setting uprepparttar 134425 global network of at least 44 data centres forrepparttar 134426 Ignite Web hosting services. Butrepparttar 134427 principal risk is of takeover rather than collapse, with hopefully less disruption torepparttar 134428 hosting. In any case, at least according to BT Ignite's vice-president of sales and marketing Perses Sethna,repparttar 134429 company is on target to start making money on Web hosting by 2003. Some ofrepparttar 134430 individual country businesses making up BT Ignite are already profitable, for example in Italy, which recently had a successful initial public offering with BT retaining a 50.8% stake. But other Ignite businesses, includingrepparttar 134431 UK operation, are still making significant losses. Expansion The Web hosting story began inrepparttar 134432 US with basic co-location services and has since expanded into more managed offerings, including up to full outsourcing and application provision. There is now a broad spectrum of services on offer, but most analysts assign these to just three categories. For this reason, others such as Worldport only provide dedicated services. Few if any ISPs inrepparttar 134433 hosting business want to confine themselves purely to co-location because, as research director specialising in ISP issues atrepparttar 134434 Gartner Group Eric Paulak points out, it delivers a relatively poor return per unit of space and in locations such asrepparttar 134435 City of London, where property is expensive, it is only just viable. Matching hosting providers to these categories is easier said than done, as suppliers are reluctant to admit that they are only inrepparttar 134436 co-location arena, even if that is all they are capable of providing. BT Ignite addressesrepparttar 134437 entire spectrum, but Sethna admits cheerfully that all their marketing effort is pitched at dedicated hosting because that is whererepparttar 134438 most money is to be made. "If you look atrepparttar 134439 pricing for basic co-location withinrepparttar 134440 UK, it works out at about [epsilon]100 ([pound]65) per square foot," says Paulak. This figure can be increased by perhaps 25% by offering some additional management, for example ofrepparttar 134441 IP routers, but pales into insignificance when compared torepparttar 134442 pickings that can be made with dedicated services.

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