One of the early questions any startup asks is “where should we host our new startup, and what plan should we get?” While there are a variety of answers, I want to give you some tips for making the right decision early, while keeping costs low and preparing for future growth.
Startup Hosting Tip #1: Avoid Shared Hosting
I still use shared hosting – for my blogs and for my family web site. Years ago, it was really the only option due to the difficulty and cost of getting your own server. Today, virtualization is key – it allows hosting providers to slice up a big server into smaller chunks and resale them, providing for some great flexibility at a lower cost. While those $9/month plans look appealing, just wait until someone using the same shared web or database server as you takes it down with a single stupid decision. Find a good hosting service that offers Virtual Private Servers (VPSs).
BTW, I recommend Slicehost. Smart people, great service, and competitive pricing.
Startup Hosting Tip #2: Always budget for more than you think
Even with the proper due diligence up front, you will always want a spare server (or two) for a variety of uses. You may need to quickly add a new server, or want a spare server to experiment with a new technology or approach. Perhaps even a dedicated staging server that allows you to deploy a duplicate copy of your production application where you can test operating system patches, security fixes, and patches before you roll them out to production. Whatever the reason, go ahead and get at least one spare virtual machine – they are cheaper than ever and always take longer to build when an emergency erupts than just having a spare around if needed.
Startup Hosting Tip #3: Hire a sysadmin
I have been maintaining servers for over 10 years now, from my early days as a sysadmin and ISP builder (I used to build the equipment that ISPs used to offer dial-up accounts in smaller towns just getting started with the Internet). I don’t mind sitting at a bash prompt and working through the installation steps necessary to get software installed, working, secured, and monitored. Not every developer is capable and willing to do this. So, if you don’t have one of those kind of developers around, hire a sysadmin. Even if you do, perhaps hiring a sysadmin is the right thing to do – especially at 2am when something goes wrong. Most VPS-based hosting services (Slicehost included) don’t provide managed servers or support, so don’t expect them to rescue you.
Do your homework, budget appropriately, and avoid the post deployment headaches often associated with bad hosting decisions.
Blue Jazz Consulting recommends Slicehost for your webhosting needs. Click the link, add me as a referral, and help me pay some bills. Thanks!