Unless you work in the industry, nothing seems to change from year to year when it comes to Web hosting. However, the past several years have ushered in a new era. No longer just a place to store websites, hosting now impacts Web business as a whole; including e-mail, e-commerce, communications, SEO and more.
Two hosting trends in particular — hosting in the cloud, and content delivery networks — have quickly become hot issues in the industry. They are, in no uncertain terms, two of the biggest developments the hosting industry has seen in years. Let’s take a closer look at both of these issues. It will not only help in understanding the current environment, but prepare you for what to expect the next time your company wants to address web hosting in the boardroom.
When discussing “the cloud” in the hosting industry, inevitably the term Software as a Service (SaaS) will also come up. In fact, it is SaaS that brings the most value to website owners. In short, the cloud offers software on demand — eliminating the need to store large amounts of data on-site which, for small businesses, can often be expensive and resource intensive.
“The trend of cloud computing — that is, applications and infrastructure moving away from the desktop and a private data center and into the cloud — means that the playing field is being leveled and the barriers between these different service providers are being broken down,” says Seth Nesbitt, VP of marketing, Parallels, a hosting infrastructure provider.
While not new, CDNs are quickly becoming the go-to solutions in the hosting world — and that’s mostly due to higher-than-ever expectations from today’s Web users.
A September 2010 report by Equation Research titled “When Seconds Count” showed that nearly one-third (32 percent) of consumers will start abandoning websites if they don’t load within one to five seconds of landing on the page. Worse, more than a third (37 percent) said they would not return to a slow site — 27 percent would likely jump to a competitor’s site.
And, user expectations of fast load times is compounded by the fact that they expect resource-intensive content, such as streaming video and other interactive media. Add in the recent introduction of search upgrades such as Google’s Caffeine index and the evolution of the real-time Web and it creates a perfect storm for website owners. It’s more important than ever that our websites are available, fast and meeting the expectations of our users.
A CDN can have a tremendous impact on our online presences. Essentially, these systems deliver content on-demand through a network of hosting locations spread across locations (referred to as edge networks) to avoid bottlenecks of data being transmitted. The user gets a faster, better experience and the website owner can be assured of high availability and increased capacity for transfer.