Let’s look at how you might select hosting options based on the factors that matter most to your business. Of course, none of these factors exist in a vacuum. In reality, the wisest choice for your business will be one that strikes the best balance for your unique needs.
The X-Factor: Performance
Here, we’re talking about server hardware and storage features, such as CPUs, RAM, storage type, etc. Performance considerations also include issues like bandwidth, availability, and network latency — all of which will affect any applications you might host on those servers will perform (e.g. your website).
Note: Page load time is a particular concern for business websites. Slow page load times can affect your site’s ranking in Google search results (it’s part of their secret sauce algorithm). In addition, when a web page loads a few seconds too slowly, people are quick to abandon via the “back” button. If that happens, not only have you lost a potential customer — their bounce-back also drives down your “average time on site” stats, which adds insult to injury by (you guessed it!) driving down your site’s Google search ranking. In general, the faster the hosting package, the speedier web pages will load. But sharing resources with other organizations may also affect performance. When evaluating your options, it’s a good idea to ask for performance metrics and, as much as you can, compare apples to apples.
The Safety Factor: Data Security
If your organization needs to store or exchange important data (and whose organization doesn’t?), security should factor into your hosting decisions. Depending on the nature of that data and the industry you’re in, you may also need to consider how to comply with important federal regulations, such as Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA, Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), etc. Before looking into any in-house or third-party hosting options, make sure you understand the full scope of data security issues you might need to address.
The Flex Factor: Scalability
For many organizations, hosting needs aren’t static. Some have aggressive business growth plans and expect a dramatic upswing in e-commerce transactions. Some are hosting an event and expect web traffic to spike within a certain time period and then fall off precipitously. Others need to host a specific application or data set for use during a defined project window.
If your organization is facing something similar to any of these, scalability should be a key part of your hosting decisions. How much does it cost if you need to add server space? What happens if you want to ramp down? Are your hosting needs seasonal, recurring, or highly changeable? How quickly can various hosting options adapt to changes? It pays to ask questions and think things through, particularly if cost is a key concern.
The $ Factor: True cost of Hosting Options
Budgets are tight everywhere, and many third-party hosting providers can be found for a low fee. However, monthly bills should not be your only consideration. Make sure you understand the full picture of potential costs with any hosting solution. In addition to monthly fees, your costs can include:
- Charges for any traffic above your monthly limit
- Setup fees
- Software licensing fees
- Cost for upgrades, such as added memory or hard drives
- Service and support
- Backup and data protection fees
- Staff training
- Adding or reducing capacity
In addition, lower-priced offerings may involve compromising reliability, security, and customer service. This puts your organization at risk of downtime — and only you can judge how much of an impact that could have on your business. If your website or email goes down, can you afford to sit idle? If data or applications aren’t available, how much can your staff get done? Keep these “true cost” issues in mind as you’re looking to maximize your budget.
Ready to learn more? In our white paper, Hosting: The Strategic Decision SMBs Should Take More Seriously, we take a comprehensive look at how and why hosting should be a strategic decision — and make key recommendations for which options are the best fit for different priorities. Want a more personal perspective? Contact a Codero team member today.