Low Cost or High Performance Clouds – Each to Their Own

To get to where you want to go, you can take a taxi, limousine, armoured truck or private jet. It all depends on how you value the various considerations—security, speed, etc.—coupled with what you can afford. 

The same applies for web hosting.

Sure you can get a website hosted for $20 a month. You can also get the same website hosted for thousands of dollars a months. But the difference isn’t just about price, because then the choice would be simple. It’s about what you get.

To be able to offer webhosting at $20 a month, a hosting provider would need to adopt a high volume/low margin strategy. This can mean using a standardised shared environment, and charging extra for things such as technical support or out of hours maintenance. 

If you only have the budget for $20 a month, then the choice is easy. But don’t risk putting any valuable data on the site or rely on your website staying up and performing well 24x7x365. What might be cheap on paper may end up costing your business a lot more money in the long run, through downtime, lost sales and extra resources and man-hours to keep it afloat.

If your website is mission-critical—ie; if it hits problems, your business loses money—then you need to consider a few other factors before deciding which service is genuinely the best value.

How Secure is Your Data?

The value of your data could be tangible, such as an eCommerce transaction, or intangible, such as the reputation of your brand.

If your website handles eCommerce transactions, you will need to up your security. Check whether the hosting provider has Payment Card Industry (PCI) certification, indicating that their hosting infrastructure is secure enough to keep you out of trouble.

You may also need to encrypt the data stream using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Secure Socket Layer protocol (SSL). 

To protect your intangible assets, such as your brand reputation, you need a High Availability service to ensure maximum uptime and performance. There isn’t usually any third party certification you can check to prove a provider’s high availability or performance claims, so it is a good idea to have a checklist of questions to interrogate the provider and get past the marketing spin. Also, ask for references and check them out.

(Naturally, Offis supports all of these protections.)

How Fast is the Service?

This refers to both the speed and volume of data. It is vital your hosting service can adjust to the constantly changing requirements of your website or app.

For example, if you are running a mobile application, the speed of the hosting service might need to be very high to handle the potentially millions of requests from mobile devices. But as the data sent in response to each request might be relatively small, the overall volume off data being transferred could be low.

Alternatively, if your website contains a lot of training videos, the speed required may be relative small and more constant because there are fewer individual requests, but the volume of data required by each connection will be much higher to stream video effectively. A high number of user connections will also consume more CPU resources to process all of those requests.

Both your speed and volume requirements may change as well, depending on a number of factors—current promotions, seasonal behaviours, new technologies, and so on.

So you need a burstable internet link, capable of giving you extra speed or volume when you need it. You may also need a Content Distribution Network (CDN) to distribute the videos around the world for fast access for anywhere in the world.

What can you afford?

So when deciding what your business can afford you need to consider the value of your data and how much your business will depend on the smooth, fast performance of the application. Get these wrong or undervalue their importance and you may compromise your competitive advantage, lose customers and, eventually, maybe even your business.

Low cost, high volume hosting will almost always mean a standardised, shared environment. And that comes with limitations. That’s why more businesses seek out a customised hosting service, paying a bit more to access the skills and service to get the job done right first time. This can mean that one server can cost from $500 to $1,500 a month, depending on the resources and services assigned.

Offis provides a high value, high touch strategy. We deliver customised, high performance, secure and complex cloud hosting infrastructure for mission critical websites and applications. That’s why Offis is behind the speed and performance of successful online services such as TabCorp’s mobile betting app, OzforEx’s exchange platform, Pepper Homeloan’s loan processing applications and Secure Parking’s payment processing.