Hosting and Server Considerations

technical server considerations

Many clients ask us what type of hosting they should choose for their websites. We want to share with you the most frequent questions we get and what our answers are regarding the topic of hosting and technical server considerations.

Does My CMS Influence My Hosting Decision?

Most general use CMSs can be hosted on almost any generic hosting solution. The communities themselves recommend various providers they have worked with in the past or have a partnership with. Additionally, many hosters will provide CMS-tailored features that make deployment and maintenance easier.

We’ll explore all these options together and analyze the advantages and drawbacks of each.

What Do I Need to Consider When Choosing a Host?

Choosing a good host can positively impact both the performance and the security of your website.

For instance, in a shared hosting environment, if one of your ‘neighbours’ is having a high spike in traffic, it can negatively affect your website. Chances that one single website does this are relatively small, but a shared machine can host even a few hundred websites. However, if you’re hosting a static website and don’t have complex user interaction or server-side features, this might not interest you that much.

You can also be faced with a slow reaction time in the case of potential security vulnerabilities if you’re sitting on a shared machine.

Other factors you should consider are availability, supported feature set and the quality of support that you are receiving from your vendor.

More to the point, you should care if the latest versions of PHP / MySQL are used and are up to date, if the support you are receiving is available over various channels and if your hosting partner is patching security vulnerabilities on the host level. Also, it’s very important to consider what the community is saying about various providers.

If having your website up at all times is critical for your business we recommend you invest in proper hosting and choose a dedicated machine (either virtual or bare metal).

Do I Choose a Managed or an Unmanaged Hosting Provider?

You shouldn’t even ask this question. The short answer is you want an infrastructure that is always up to date against the latest threats, which is synonymous to managed. A high quality managed solution also includes support when dealing with migration, scaling and monitoring. Most providers will also offer backups and disaster recovery solutions.

The total cost of ownership (TCO) might seem greater at first but you won’t need to pay a third party to manage your servers and in the end you will end up spending less.

What About the Cloud?

Nowadays everyone is talking about the cloud and choosing a cloud provider for your business might be the best choice for you. Cloud solutions offer clients greater reliability and scalability than traditional hosting options, but you should ask yourself: do you really need this?

In the cloud your data is distributed across several servers, rather than being stored in just one place. This means that if one server goes down, the remaining ones will distribute the load amongst themselves, resulting in no loss of data or downtime.

Scalability is the major selling point the cloud is offering. With cloud services you can quickly scale your resources horizontally and get more server instances almost immediately. If you have a website that that sees huge spikes in traffic cloud hosting is worth considering. A cloud provider takes care of this for you and you will never be caught off guard on Black Friday or if your business grows spectacularly over night. It’s important to note that cloud hosting is more complex than traditional hosting and only a good option for bigger projects.

With standard hosting services you know exactly how much you are going to pay. In the cloud you pay as you go for the exact amount of resources you use. When making efficient use of horizontal scaling capabilities, the cloud is generally more cost effective than traditional hosting. However, if you end up using more resources than you had anticipated, you may be facing a larger bill than you had thought.

Cloud hosting definitely used to be slower than traditional hosting due to the overhead introduced by virtualization. This has significantly improved over the years, but do not choose the cloud for application speed. High load is where the cloud will help you instead.

Should I Go Public or Private If I Choose the Cloud?

There is no reason to go for anything else than a public cloud, unless you are handling sensitive information or have very custom needs and a generic cloud offering is not enough. This can apply to financial and medical services or very complex websites.

If you go down the private cloud route you can still draw resources off a public cloud provider to compensate for traffic spikes or simply because it makes more sense to do so.

What Hosting Options are Available in the Market?

The Drupal community showcases several providers that have shown their commitment for the project. Similarly the WordPress community partners with four major hosting providers they consider offer the most reliable hosting out there.

Other than the options above, there are the big players on the market (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform etc.) and some newcomers (DigitalOcean, Cyon and more), each of them with their own pros and cons.

Conclusion

To put things into perspective, shared hosting is like renting an apartment with a couple of flatmates. It might seem OK if you’re in university, but once you get a job sleep will become more important to you.

Eventually you’ll move out and rent an apartment just for yourself, similar to renting a VPS. You won’t get randomly woken up by your flatmates, but it’s still not your apartment and you can’t change anything according to your taste.

In the end, you’ll want to buy your own apartment and have a dedicated place just for yourself. You can make that place look and feel exactly how you want it to.

After you buy it you’ll start thinking of what will happen if a fire, earthquake or any other disaster will hit. To cover for any potential damages you’ll get an insurance that will take care of everything. Sure, you can choose to pay less and the chances for your apartment to catch fire are small, but do you really want to take that risk?

You’ll also think of what will happen if someone will break in. You can install security cameras and guard your own apartment, but that will take time and ultimately you are not the right man for the job. To solve this you’ll hire a security company to monitor your place in your absence.

Both scenarios are similar to what managed hosting can provide.

Ultimately you’ll choose based on your budget, how critical your web application is for your business, its features and how much margin for error and flexibility you want. Exactly like getting an apartment.

We Work With

We have dealt with plenty of hosting providers and the ones we are most happy with and have been excellent in terms of support, performance and feedback from our clients are Cyon for smaller WordPress projects, Hetzner for fully customizable machines and nine.ch for our larger clients in Switzerland wanting a more high-end solution.

Costs also play an important factor and everyone is looking for the best feature to cost ratio so we recommend you consult with us to help you make the best choice for your business.

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