11 Questions as You Decide Where to Host Your Websites

We all face decisions about what to do ourselves vs. what to delegate, and companies are no different.  When should a company do a task in house, and when is it far enough from their core competencies that it should be outsourced to trusted experts? For those companies with an internal IT team, one form this question may take is whether to host their website (or group of websites) with an external web host or to host them internally.

Here is a list of diagnostic questions we believe will help your company decide whether external web hosting is right for you. We are offering diagnostic questions because the approach we take at Ambitechstrous is more of a consulting approach rather than spouting off one-size-fits-all solutions. However, before we get to the list, here are some items we want to be up front about:

  • We are generally in favor of a 3rd party web host, but realize that it’s not a good fit for all companies.
  • We do not promote affiliate links with hosting providers. Any kickbacks for us would be so small they are not worth the time to even put the affiliate links on our site.
  • Our favorite is Liquidweb. After interacting with 10-20 different 3rd party web-hosts over many years (including all the big ones you’ve probably heard of), we’ve found them second to none. Liquidweb is a US based company with US based 24-7 support and have even ceased providing shared hosting so they can focus on premium support for server level customers.

Diagnostic questions regarding internal vs. external web server

  1. To meet changing market conditions, which option (internal or external web hosting) can scale up and down the quickest in terms of hardware, performance, & bandwidth?
  2. Which option provides the best redundancy in case of catastrophic hardware failure of the main server?
  3. Which performs faster for a better user experience?
  4. Which option fits more with your core competencies as a business?
  5. Since web hosting generally serves the purpose of marketing efforts, which option contributes to ROI by supporting marketing efforts with the most agility? (rather than becoming another cost center)
  6. Which option provides the most appropriate levels of technical, procedural, and physical security?  (“appropriate” takes into consideration the value of what is being protected and the reality of diminishing returns )
  7. Which option provides the most accessible (e.g. 24/7) & responsive (e.g. SLA time-to-response) support?
  8. Which option is the lowest overall investment, when considering factors such as hardware (acquisition, maintenance, and end-of-life re-purchase) & software (licensing, maintenance and upgrades)?
  9. Which option requires the least staff time in training & execution (e.g. Linux web hosting software configuration, SSL certificate procuring and installation, Firewall configuration, IP address configuration)?
  10. Which option best leverages economies of scale?
  11. Does either option provide intangible benefits that may not be easily quantified?

To see what the answers to some of these questions would be for an entry level Liquidweb VPS, please click here.

Diagnostic questions regarding different external VPS hosts

As an added bonus to the 11 diagnostic questions above, here are a few more if you’re trying to decide between different external web hosts:

  1. Reliability and performance and security are general factors of competitive parity.  in other words, to even get in the game a web host has to be outstanding in these areas.  Does the track record of the hosts you’re considering meet these requirements?
  2. One area where differences in web hosts become very recognizable is the support they offer.  Which of the providers offers support that is the most:
    1. accessible (times of day and means of communication and wait times)
    2. knowledgeable (e.g. do they have any experience or are they just continually referring to the company manual?)
  3. Another area to consider are ancillary services.  So which provides the most services (e.g. not just maintenance but security configuration)?

Why Liquidweb?

Again, Liquidweb does not pay us anything for this endorsement.  We commend them because we have seen them demonstrate their value above numerous other web hosts over many years.

  • Liquidweb is a leader in the web industry, demonstrated by their recent acquisition of iThemes.
  • Data centers in the US and Europe and headquartered in Michigan.
  • They have 24/7 instant US-based support.
  • Several years ago they left the commoditized shared hosting space and now focus only on premium web hosting.

For further reading

We believe that current marketplace trends also say that companies should stick to their core competency and outsource functions they don’t need to be expert in.  Here is more reading on that topic.

Deloitte on “The Role of the CIO Over Four Decades

Cio.com on “The Changing Role of the CIO: From Operating IT to Orchestrating IT