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 June 1, 1999

Who’ll host your Web site key decision for Net success

You’ve invested considerable amounts of time, effort and resources developing your company’s Web site so that you can attract new customers, better support your existing customers and do business around the world.

The question of where your Web site will “live” should receive no less consideration than its development. There are many factors to consider when deciding who should be given the responsibility of “hosting” your business Web site. You will want your Web site to be available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. After all, if you are doing business on the global Internet, business hours are around the clock. Hosting your corporate Web site in-house requires a reliable, high-speed connection to the Internet, as well as a skilled in-house Internet service staff capable of keeping your systems up and running all the time.

In-house hosting offers greater ability to integrate your Web site with your business process, including tight integration with your corporate database, sales and lead tracking systems and customer support systems, but it also carries with it huge security ramifications. Make sure you have appropriate security and a knowledgeable networking team in place before considering in-house Web hosting.

In many cases, outsourcing your Web site makes sense. It allows you to concentrate on running and growing your business, without worrying about system and network management, security or other technical issues. Make sure that your Web-hosting partner has the resources and technical expertise to keep your Web site running and secure. There are more then 7,000 Internet Service Providers (ISP) and even more Web Hosting Providers and resellers. Choosing the provider that is right for your company isn’t an easy task.

Make certain your Web-hosting provider (or, if you are hosting your Web site in-house, your connectivity provider) is not the weak link in the communications chain that connects your site to the world. Networks are not all created equal. A good ISP should be willing and able to provide detailed historical reliability and performance data, as well as an up-to-date procedure for data backup and recovery, redundancy and for threats to physical and data security. They should have more than one connection to the Internet to ensure maximum availability.

Much like reliability, performance plays a major role in the experience visitors to your site will have and the impression you will make. If your site is slow, unreliable or unresponsive, most people will wander away rather then wait. Ask for details about your potential hosting provider’s server and network utilization, as well as their plans for managing growth and network scalability.

You’ll need to decide in advance what type of support you need. If you are looking for help integrating your Web site with your existing business process, implementing electronic commerce solutions, database integration, video and audio support or help with integrating other technologies into your Web site, you will want to find a company that has a proven track record of delivering these solutions and working with companies of your size.

The Internet is an enabling technology. With it you can do business around with clock and around the world, without having local offices. Similarly, your Web site can live anywhere in the world that has good Internet connectivity.

If you prefer face-to-face meetings with the people who are responsible for your Web site, you’ll almost certainly prefer a local company. However, using e-mail, video conferencing, and the good old telephone, you can often get just as good, if not better, support from a full service provider in another location. It’s more important to find a partner that you can work with, is responsive to your needs, understands your company and its products and market, and has the staff and technical know-how to deliver the solutions that will help you grow your business.

Regardless of where your Web site lives, here is a fundamental tip for a happy life on the Internet: Own your domain. Too many businesses hang their Web sites off their provider’s domain. This ties you a bit too closely to the fortunes of your ISP; if your hosting provider changes its name, gets bought, or worse — goes out of business — your Web site will disappear and your e-mail may be lost.

You should always own your own domain, if only so that you can move your domain to another provider if things don’t work out with the one you’ve chosen. Having your e-mail and Web site address persist can be easily accomplished by investing in a domain name for your company. Changing your Internet address is more difficult then your postal address, and, given the high turnover rate for ISP’s, a domain name is cheap insurance. Don’t give up control of your corporate identity.

Steve Goldsmith is the president of SEG Network Technologies Inc. For information, visit segNET’s Web site at www.segnet.com

You’ve invested considerable amounts of time, effort and resources developing your company’s Web site so that you can attract new customers, better support your existing customers and do business around the world.

The question of where your Web site will “live” should receive no less consideration than its development. There are many factors to consider when deciding who should be given the responsibility of “hosting” your business Web site. You will want your Web site to be available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. After all, if you are doing business on the global Internet,…

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