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High Level Hints: 4 Hosting Options For Software Companies

A lot of clients have questions about where their application will be running, and how much its ongoing server costs might be. Here is a quick overview of some of the more popular options, as well as a breakdown of the pros and cons of each possible choice.

Hosting TypeExample ProvidersMonthly Cost*Control**In house technical needs
Shared GoDaddy, Dreamhost $10 – $20 Low Low
Private Server/Cloud Amazon Web Services (AWS) $10 – $100 High Medium
PaaS Heroku, Rackspace $20 – $300+ High Low
Own your own datacenter   In house $1,000 < Very High Very High

* Estimates only based on typical client needs.

** Control refers to ability to scale your application quickly and easily as well as to make custom changes to how your application is run. It is mostly needed during periods of rapid growth and at consistent levels of high traffic once successful.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is a quick way to get a website off the ground that is never expected to grow in scope or traffic. Local business websites are good candidates for the affordability of shared hosting.

They will run into problems with unexpected spikes in traffic (national news stories or what have you) bringing them to their knees.

Their performance is also unpredictable because each site has ‘roommates’ on their physical machine. You don’t know what that site is, or when it might have surges of traffic that might also affect your server.

Private Server/Cloud hardware

A private server is a physical machine that you rent from a hosting company (or something very close to that in Amazon’s case). You enjoy the absence of neighbors that might slow down your site, but that adds to their cost.

They are also much more customizable as you essentially have total control over the machine. An expert system administrator can use this control to make your site run faster and more reliably, but those roles can be expensive to fill at an organization.

PaaS

PaaS (Platform as a service) offerings are a layer built on top of the dedicated hardware from the private server option above. The additional layer lowers the expertise needed to operate and deploy a website, while still enjoying the benefits of your own hardware.

Quick Left generally chooses to recommend this hosting option because it offers the best combination of future-proofing your application while allowing us to focus on what we do best: write code.

Internal datacenter

This option becomes viable at a very high level of traffic. If you’re not in the top 500 or so websites by traffic, generally you’re off the hook. You need large amounts of power, physical space, and personnel to make this happen. It pays off once the premium of a PaaS solution overtakes the salaries and up front costs of space and hardware (generally in the $x00,000 per month range). There are lots of resources for calculating when building a datacenter becomes efficient, though Quick Left usually works with clients before they reach this size.