August 30, 2019
Life is full of DIY projects that you can do without hiring a professional. Web hosting, however, seldom falls into that category.
Sticking to what you do best
When I built my first website around 20 years ago, it was a pretty rough affair. I built the site for a small non-profit for which I did volunteer work. Without fancy tools at my disposal, I had to edit the raw HTML myself and if I made one tiny mistake (like forgetting to close a tag), the outcome was less than desirable. Today, I’m smart enough to leave the development work to . . . well, developers. Fortunately, content management systems like Umbraco have made my life a lot easier, keeping me out of the code and letting me focus on my favorite task: creating content!
Many companies and organizations have marketing teams and writers in charge of maintaining their websites. They call in developers to handle the heavy lifting of creating new functionality, making CSS changes, and handling the more technical aspects of the site. But, what about hosting? You don’t have to be an expert to know that your site needs to live somewhere. What you may not realize is just how complex hosting can be.
The anatomy of a website
Pondering the many elements that make up a website is not unlike watching a technician repair an elevator. You may not necessarily want to see the myriad mechanical elements that keep the elevator running smoothly, but you know they are there. Similarly, a working website relies on elements like: a domain name, name servers, DNS hosting/management, properly configured web files, an SSL certificate and, last but not least: secure, reliable hosting.
It’s worth mentioning that, in some cases, these services can be managed by one entity or by multiple entities. To make life easier, it’s often a good idea to have all aspects of your website managed by a single provider. That way, you won’t be in a panic over who to call if there is an issue.
I’ve seen the DIY approach prove unsuccessful more than a few times over the years. I’ve definitely gotten blank stares when trying to explain the concept of updating a site’s DNS to reflect a new IP address. And why wouldn’t they be confused? Most people don’t have to understand concepts like MX record, A record, C NAME, etc. as part of their normal job duties. I learned the basics myself only out of necessity - it’s easier to work in the world of building and launching web solutions if you have at least a cursory understanding of the elements related to hosting.
Some companies choose to self-host their website. In other words, they set up a web server and handle all hosting aspects on their own. This can be an option for companies large enough to have a full-time IT staff (with staff members that don’t mind being on call on nights and weekends). It’s also necessary to think about variables such as climate control and physical access to the server. And of course we can’t overlook the most important aspect of all: security. Hosting cannot be taken lightly and if it’s not part of a company’s core competencies, it might be wise to embrace other options.
Hosting done right
At Fyin.com, we generally recommend external hosting. We don’t require our client partners to host with us but for those that want our help, we set them up on Microsoft Azure.
Just like letting the developers do the development, hosting with Azure allows us to leverage Microsoft to do the server management, infrastructure management, and security. We get world class physical and data security, best practices support, geo-redundant infrastructure, and access to software, hardware, and licenses for a small monthly fee. We call this “software as a service” or “hosting in the cloud.”
Other aspects of the cloud include the ability to scale, both up and out. If there is a regional event such as a hurricane or other disaster, the cloud allows us to move resources to non-affected parts of the world. Have a new product launch or event? Get mentioned on CNN? That huge spike in traffic might be a problem unless you can bring servers and bandwidth online on demand. A true benefit of this set-up is that you pay for only what you use; amazing capabilities are only a few clicks away and available when you need them.
Ready to turn over your website woes to a team of professionals? Contact Fyin.com!