There are many things anyone needs to know when it comes to distinguish one Linux/Unix web hosting company from another. A reliable network, connectivity, hardware and technical support are very important for any web hosting business. You can buy all those! They are the base but at the same time non of them makes a web hosting company to stand out from it competitors.
Once a web host finds a reliable colocation solution or builds its own data center, then it is time to conceptualize web hosting, and to produce a unique product or service. Otherwise the company will line up to others on the market.
Web Hosting Standardization?
It is critical for successful web hosting business to establish its own-branded hosting platform that enables the company to better serve its customers.
Most companies purchase a web hosting software to run their servers from third parties and rely on software producers to ensure security and reliability of the solutions they use. I can not say this is not reasonable because there are many companies that run advanced web hosting automation software such as cPanel, Ensim, Plesk, H-Sphere, Helm and etc. Those set the standards in managing web servers and no one can say they are not good enough.
At the same time most web hosts (especially the shared ones) offer a standard service that includes a entry-level servers equipped with any of the popular web hosting control panels and run a dozen of free or paid open source software applications. As a result of that customers choose between thousands of providers that produce one and the same product. Some are little better than others, some aren’t but the product is almost the same.
The standardization of the web hosting services probably makes some web site owners to feel comfortable when they switch from one provider to another but it does not help the industry to grow. Imagine that 50 percent of the web sites worldwide have the same look, use standard design and change only the color scheme templates only. Would you like it? It is the same with the databases, scripting and other part of the web design.
If a large number of online businesses operate under one and the same software platform they will not be able to offer too many different options. That means the same functionality and less competition between web sites in a given industry.
One of the well-known shared web hosting companies – HostGator – focused global attention in mid September but not because of a positive development. The news wasn’t good neither for the web host nor for its customers. Netcraft reported that the company’s servers have been compromised by hackers who used a previously unknown security hole in cPanel, a server management software used by thousands of hosting providers worldwide.
“I can tell you with all accuracy that this is definitely due to a cPanel exploit that provides root access and all cPanel servers are affected,” said HostGator administrator Tim Greer. “This issue affects all versions of cPanel, from what I can tell, from years ago to the current releases, including Stable, Release, Current and Edge.”
“Please note that this is a local exploit which requires access to a cPanel account. If you believe you have been exploited through this vulnerability, you are welcome to submit a support request for assistance.” cPanel stated in its user forums.
Hackers gained access to web host’s servers and redirected customer web sites to third party web pages that exploited an unpatched VML security hole in Internet Explorer to infect web surfers with trojans.
Both the web host and the software producer said the other side has to take the responsibility of the compromised web sites.
Branded Web Hosting Services
There are many web hosting companies that use their own in-house hosting automation software systems. Some of them invested ten thousands of dollars to develop and release their own software solutions and to brand the web hosting services they offer.
The good news for the customers of those companies is that they host their web sites with providers that take their business responsibilities very seriously. Developing own server management software enables any web hosting company to create its own platform and to better control the business process. Branded software helps the web host to integrate the account management, billing, and customer care and to improve customer experience.
When a company has knowledgeable staff it can make a lot for its customers and can help them in their day to day web site maintaince and online business management. My advice to web site owners is to try to distinguish robotized web hosts from those who push the industry and web site business ahead. If you want to benefit from a good service always ask about the software and try to learn more about provider’s business approach.
It is easy to provide a reliable hosting service, but it is hard to make it advanced and innovative.