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Choosing the Right Hosting Partner for your Business

Date Posted: Friday, 29 May 2015 10:51
Posted By: Siv Rauv

How to Choose a Website Hosting Services Provider

Choosing a Website Hosting Services Provider

To be successful in business in the 21st century, regardless of what that business is, an Internet presence is absolutely essential. While social media trends come and go, a company website - both the public face of your organization, and the “back end” - where employees do their “behind the scenes” work - should be a major priority for any technology decision maker.

But deciding to have a website and finding a partner to host that website are two very different things. Truly, picking a company to host your website as well as other aspects of your organization can be a gruelling process. Some will offer a low price, others will tout the deliverables, and still others will try to charm you with lots of bells and whistles. The difficulty comes in picking the best of all of them, and being able to weed out the bad from the good.

Regardless of your company’s size or scope, the hosting service provider must be flexible to your ever changing needs, be experts in all things digital, provide top-notch, real-time support for any concerns or questions, and of course, keep the server running at all times.

In other words, an ongoing environment where your company’s website performs exactly what is demanded and expected of it from your CEO to an employee on their first day of work, and everyone from a customer who has been with you since your first day in business to the inquisitive Internet lead who just browsed your website for the first time today.

This sort of web hosting service provider is not impossible to find, but can be difficult to locate without doing some legwork first. The decision-maker or company management must first turn inward to decide what it is that the company wants and needs in a hosting service before going out into the marketplace.

The following questions must be addressed before a company can hope to find a hosting service dedicated to its needs.

These type of questions must be answered prior to venturing out into the market. After all, how can you find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for?

• Is there one person assigned to the company’s account or a whole team?
• How much flexibility is needed?
• How much IT support will we need?
• How quickly do we need new components to be ready?
• Do we want reactionary support or actual advisers on our hosted entities?

Steps to Choosing a Host

The decision-maker or company management must first turn inward to decide what it is that the company wants and needs in a hosting service before going out into the marketplace.

The following questions must be addressed before a company can hope to find a hosting service dedicated to its needs.

These type of questions must be answered prior to venturing out into the market. After all, how can you find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for?

• Is there one person assigned to the company’s account or a whole team?
• How much flexibility is needed?
• How much IT support will we need?
• How quickly do we need new components to be ready?
• Do we want reactionary support or actual advisers on our hosted entities?

The most frequently requested hosting services are:
Web hosting - Overwhelmingly the No. 1 selection in terms of volume. Every company, organization, and corporation is looking to use the Internet to reach out to its customers, potential customers, social media, traditional media, industry networks, etc.

Application hosting - As companies expand and workforces become geographically diverse – with co-workers sharing the same physical space less and less - application hosting has become increasingly prevalent.

Intranet hosting - The inverse of the company’s website is often its intranet, the network that includes corporate dealings, the human resources department, company email servers, discussion forums, and shared information.

Back-end hosting - Your company will definitely want a hosting service that is active behind the scenes, giving you the latest information, analysis, and applications necessary to ensure your company runs smoothly at all times.

Data hosting - Big Data is a major consideration in our rapidly-evolving digital landscape, and the need to find ways to collect it, store it, and harness it for future business success is rapidly soaring to the top of the ‘want list’ of CEOs and CIOs across the globe.

Choose Based on What is Offered

Your choice shouldn’t be one that’s informed by budget alone. Hosting companies vary in the level of support that they offer and it could be that you need a completely managed service, rather than just one that offers reactive support.
Managed services tend to implement all software patching for you on the server, the applications, and even on your CMS and web building software. Effective patch management is an area in which many businesses fail, and yet it’s vital to maintaining a secure environment.

When it comes to support, you also shouldn’t assume that the big name companies will offer the best. Some only allow contact through the website or email, whilst others only offer telephone support.

Take Care to Ensure a Comprehensive Level of Support is Offered

Ken Dillard, Director of Customer Care and Support at Managed.com, says that support is one of the most important considerations when choosing a hosting provider, going on to say that:

“We see companies that have such complicated hosting policies, it’s hard to figure out what you are getting, and when you can actually contact them. So I can call you at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday? Great. But will someone be there at 3 a.m. on a Saturday? Will someone be there to help me?”

He goes on to say that “your business needs shouldn’t depend on someone else’s schedule” so do check the SLA (Service Level Agreement) carefully before signing up to a host. If your site should go down on a weekend and you find out the hard way that nobody at the hosting company is manning the phones, it could cost you dearly.

Looking After Your Data

There may be legal reasons as to why your data has to reside in Australia. However, whilst many hosts offer a ‘Point of Presence’ in many areas around the globe, that doesn’t mean that they actually have a data centre in the country. With this in mind, you should make sure that they do or you could find your company liable.
Asking questions is the only way you’re going to get the answers that you’re looking for.

As Johnny Gregory, Senior Account Manager for Managed.com says,“Remember that you are the one doing the shopping. They should be willing to schedule time to answer any and all of your questions. You have a technical question? We even bring senior engineers onto a call to help. The point is, don’t settle for a ‘faceless’ organization. Look for a company that is willing to talk with you in detail about how they can best support you. And remember, if you can’t get a hold of them when you’re trying to give them money, what will things be like when you have a genuine problem and your site is down?”

Wise advice indeed to bear in mind. Look for companies which value communication and don’t attempt to duck calls. Of course, in the first instance, it’s likely that you’ll be speaking to a sales person, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t know the product or that they’re willing to go that extra mile and get the technical people involved where necessary.
So when purchasing hosting, there’s a lot to think about and it pays to plan and ensure that you have all of your bases covered in the event of an emergency.

To find out more about hosting services download our layperson’s guide.

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