Ecommerce Website Development Series Part 1: Hosting Options

I just finished another graduate class last month (E-commerce Website Development) and this one was extremely relevant to my job (working for an e-commerce website development agency) so I decided to turn a few of my assignments into blog posts – since my New Year’s resolutions of reading more, cleaning more, working out more, cooking more, etc. etc. are leaving very little time for this blog. Maybe I should make a resolution to blog more…

So I hope somebody enjoys this 3-day E-commerce website development blog series. And begin.

Ecommerce Website Development Series Part 1: Hosting Options

When building a website, you have three main options for how your site will be hosted.

Internal Hosting

Internal hosting is when the company owns its own servers and hardware to hold all the website’s files and bandwidth. By hosting internally, you’re able to have complete control over every aspect of the website. From hardware to software to all the systems run on the web server, you’re able to control what’s done. You’re also able to make changes on your own schedule instead of having to wait for your provider to get around to them. It’s easier to manage optimal performance of your site when you’re able to access and make changes to all the things that affect performance.

The main disadvantage of hosting internally is of course the costs and substantial resources required. You need to pay for the web server hardware, constant high speed Internet connection, necessary software, and all the employees required to maintain the server. You need a team of skilled employees who can manage the server’s operations day-to-day and monitor for any issues. If a problem ever occurs, you need to have people available to fix the issue as soon as possible. There isn’t a contracted “help team” that you can just call when you need them, unless of course you pay extra or contract it in.

ISP Hosting

The most important benefit of ISP hosting is that you can take advantage of a large amount of bandwidth at a lower cost since you don’t need to invest highly into your own web server. This option also provides better protection against outages because of the back power solutions available. With this option, you own the server machinery and software, so you’re able to make changes and upgrades yourself without having to rely on your provider to do so.

On the other hand, you are putting your trust into your ISP that they will ensure availability and security of your website. You lose a bit of control over this aspect so it’s important that you are able to find a provider you trust. You’re also somewhat tied to your provider in terms of location. It’s difficult to find many colocation providers in general, so if you move, it could be hard to find a new one and if you need to do maintenance on the physical server itself you need to travel to where it’s located.

Third Party Hosting

With this option, you’re going through a third party to host your site. (Prime example: WordPress blogs!) Third party hosting is the cheapest option but allows much less control over site capabilities. Features required for your business may be unsupported with a third party. All of your site content is housed within the third party host’s server and you need internet access in order to make any changes to the site or upload any files. Because you’re at the mercy of internet speed, uploading files takes a lot longer than if you were able to just transfer the file onto the server itself.  This option is better for businesses with limited budgets and sites with low traffic, however once a site grows to a much larger traffic base, more bandwidth will be necessary.

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