These requirements will be different across all user segments, and even within your own vertical niche. Your hosting needs will be dependent on the type of site you require. For example, hosting a personal website will require different capabilities and technologies when compared to hosting a small business site, a software development site, an e-commerce shop or any high traffic data-intensive site. And dont forget your organizational needs for functionality for instance, email, messaging, storage, and back-up and disaster recovery all add different layers of complexity. A quick search on Google for hosting provider or hosting company results in literally millions and millions of hits; and perusing the websites for these companies is enough to boggle the mind. After all, dont they seem to all look and sound the same? According toPhilbert Shih, Managing Directorof Structure Research : Internet infrastructure is a highly fragmented market with pureplay hosters, MSPs, systems integrators, resellers and telcos all competing for the IT outsourcing dollar. The majority of providers decide to focus on a narrower set of services and capabilities rather than trying to be everything to everyone. This leads to technology specialization, local market reach and vertical focus. The end result is literally tens of thousands of providers. If you count all the companies in the business of IT outsourcing there could be more than 40,000 such providers around the world. Related Resources from B2C Free Webcast: Social Listening – Gateway to Innovation There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Few, if any hosting providers are capable of doing everything for everyone. There is just too much complexity and diversity in IT infrastructure for this to be possible. Providers inevitably zero in on certain use cases and leave the rest for competitors. The same is true from the customers perspective. No customer is alike and finding the right provider is about matching needs with requirements. Sifting through all of this can be very challenging. But the good news is that finding order within this complexity is a relatively simple task if you know where and what to look for and most importantly, the key questions to ask. The fact is hosting providers are anything but alike. They have contrasting strengths and weaknesses and offer up drastically different value propositions. It is a matter of comparing them on the right terms and asking the right questions. Below we take you on a mini-road trip that will hopefully answer most questions and allow you to get a better understanding of the landscape. Finding The Hosting Provider Thats Right for You
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Discovering the Cloud and Cloud Computing People use cloud as a buzzword when describing either the Internet or an intranet in association with some type of service or application offering. When you hear the term public cloud, think of the Internet; when you hear private cloud, think of your companys intranet. Usually, cloud by itself refers to the public cloud. The phrase cloud computing refers to Internet or intranet applications and services that you typically access, run, or manage via a Web browser. Such services often dont require you to install software on your computer. Heres another way to look at it: Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than as a product. Instead of purchasing, installing, and running a program on your local computers, the program runs on the providers computers, and you pay a monthly or yearly fee for access. You can find three main types of cloud computing service providers. Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, such as Google Docs, Microsoft Office 365, and Salesforce, are services designed for end users. As such, they represent the end result of cloud computing. Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings, such as Windows Azure, are services that IT personnel use in application development and for providing applications (SaaS) and Web hosting to end users. Basically, your IT staff gets remote access to virtual computers hosted at the providers data centers. PaaS providers typically offer a managed Windows or Linux operating system, which means that your business can dedicate more resources to development and fewer to configuring and maintaining the OS. The trade-off is that your IT personnel will have less control over the underlying OS. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers, such as Amazon EC2 and Rackspace Cloud Hosting, are similar to PaaS providers, but they usually offer your IT personnel more control over the OS. Although they typically dont provide automatic OS updates, your business can use the raw infrastructure to develop and deploy applications on pretty much any platform or OS. PaaS and IaaS Providers Ill focus on PaaS and IaaS providers here. If youre familiar with the concept of virtual computing , you might think of these services as providing virtual machines (like VMware or VirtualBox) via the Internet. PaaS and IaaS providers supply access to their shared data centers, giving you the reliability, redundancy, and security of a global enterprise data center network. This saves you time and money, because you dont need to purchase and set up servers from scratch, and you pay only for the resources you consume. These services are particularly cost-effective for short-term projects, but they also deliver scalable, on-demand resources. For instance, within minutes you can double the amount of memory that your website might need to respond to a surge of end users. One of the drawbacks of using a cloud computing host is that your data resides on another partys servers. This arrangement might raise privacy and security issues for companies dealing with sensitive data, but you can mitigate the risk by employing data encryption and choosing a cloud host with security certifications and accreditations. Most PaaS and IaaS providers offer per-hour pricing for each instance, role, or server. Each of these is, in essence, a separate virtual computer on which you can run one, a few, or even hundreds of applications. Windows Azure The PaaS platform Windows Azure can supply and manage the operating system, which is great if your applications dont require a specialized OS. You can concentrate on building, deploying, and managing cloud applications without worrying about OS updates and patches. Windows Azure offers three main roles, or OS choices. Web role: This Windows Azure-supplied OS, preloaded with Internet Information Services 7, permits the development of applications using Web technologies such as ASP.NET, PHP, and Node.js. Worker role: This Windows Azure-supplied OS can run arbitrary code or host any type of application (including Apache Tomcat and Java Virtual Machines), and you can use it in conjunction with a Web role.
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