What is Web Hosting and How To Get Started

Learn about web hosting services, various web hosting environments, and important factors to consider when selecting a web hosting service.
Web hosting as a service

Web hosting is a service that provides the resources necessary to make your web application (typically a website) accessible via the internet. This is critical in this day and age when every business must have an online presence. Web hosting as a service makes your company and services more accessible to a larger pool of potential customers. This also allows you to practice eCommerce, where your customers can directly purchase your goods and services online. Have you ever wondered what you’d need to get started? If you answered yes, this is the article for you.

1. Domain registration

This is the first thing you need on your journey to web hosting.  A domain is a distinct combination of characters that uniquely identifies a web resource on the internet, and belongs to an individual or organization. To acquire a domain name, you need only pay the required annual fee to a domain registrar, and check for the availability of the domain name of your choice. A good domain name should have the following characteristics:

  • It needs to be short and concise.
  • Meaningful.
  • It should correlate to the name of the organization, product, or service as much as possible.

The above characteristics ensure that your domain name is memorable and promotes your brand. On the creation of the domain name, you will also be asked to specify DNS servers. Don’t worry, this is not as complicated as it sounds. A DNS server is simply used to store configurations regarding your domain name. This is what is changed when you want to configure a mailing system so that you can have domain emails (e.g [email protected]), or when mapping your domain to a new website.  Given the importance of a DNS server, care should be taken to ensure that your provider’s service is reliable enough to always ensure that the DNS server is available. Its lack of availability usually leads to the downtime of all other systems that rely on your domain.

2. Website/web application development

Next, you have to work with a web developer or agency to create your web application or website for you. The cost for this would be dependent on the features of your website, the type of website, and the technologies used on the website. Most websites are built on top of a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is software that allows users to easily modify parts of the website, publish new content and interact with a website’s configurations with ease. The most commonly used CMS is called WordPress. WordPress currently accounts for 37% of all websites and a whopping 60% of content management systems (CMS). This also means you are more likely to find developers and agencies that can work using WordPress, as opposed to other technologies.

3. Choosing a web hosting environment (On-premise hosting vs Cloud hosting)

After your website has been developed, you need to determine the environment in which it will run. Websites and web applications need a server to run on. Some organizations own their own servers (this is called on-premise hosting) while others prefer to use servers that are leased by service providers (this is called cloud hosting). The challenge with on-premise hosting is the overhead caused by having to buy expensive equipment, maintain technical personnel to manage the servers, perform hardware maintenance, secure servers, and server rooms, ensuring you have a redundant internet connection and power supply, among other things. With on-premise hosting there is also a lot of wastage of resources given the servers are inherently powerful, yet there is often a tendency for them to be underutilized. This is because web applications and websites may not be resource intensive. On the other hand, in scenarios where the website experiences periods of peak traffic, on-premise server capacity may not be sufficient to handle the load thus leading to a poor user experience. For these reasons, you would rather go with cloud hosting.  Cloud hosting is a model whereby you rely on server resources provided by a third party. The third party takes care of all the overhead such as purchasing and maintaining servers, server security, having continuous power, and an internet connection, among other tasks performed on physical servers. The third-party/service provider simply provisions enough capacity for you based on the type of workload you are running and the amount of compute (computing power) you require. However, with cloud hosting there are still two more models to choose from: shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

4. Choosing between shared hosting and dedicated hosting

Shared hosting is a model provided by cloud service providers whereby your website or web application is hosted together with those of other customers, on the same server. This is done by service providers so as to better utilize server resources and provide the service at a cheaper cost. The downside of this model is that the performance of your website may be impacted since your web application is competing for resources with others. This model may also carry security risks given the layer of isolation between different web applications running on the same server is very thin. In addition to this, a shared hosting environment may not allow very complex use cases, since customer access to the hosting environment is very limited. Due to this factor, some types of web applications are completely unsuitable for hosting in shared hosting environments.

On the other hand, a dedicated hosting environment provides you with a virtual server on which you have full control/access. This is also only reserved for a single client, thus there is no longer the risk of your web application being starved of computing resources. This is especially convenient for websites that experience high traffic. The elevated level of access you get in this environment also allows you to deploy web applications of more varied nature (rather than just WordPress websites) such as custom-developed websites, eCommerce applications, and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, among others. The only tradeoff with dedicated hosting is that the price is higher than that of shared hosting. Regardless, the additional feature you get makes it worth every penny, given that your website could be the biggest driver of customer acquisition for your business.

5. Choosing the right Cloud provider: Google Cloud for web hosting

The web hosting service you choose is about more than just providing the infrastructure you need to get you site up and running. It governs how your website functions, how quickly it loads, how available it is during downtimes, and how secure it is, all of which directly impact your customers’ experience and the success of your website as a business tool.

Many cloud service providers exist and their offerings are comparable to each other with superficial and cost-related differences (this is an oversimplification, however, it is largely the case). However, Google Cloud stands out as the platform of choice because this infrastructure has proven to be reliable because it is used to run Google’s own applications (Google Workspace, YouTube, etc.). Google Cloud also provides additional offerings that tie into web hosting, for example, facilities that enable backup and disaster recovery. Other features that come with using Google Cloud web hosting include

  • Outstanding availability and uptime with a Compute Engine Service Level Agreement (SLA), where any dip below a monthly uptime of 99.99% will result in financial credit.
  • Live Migration of virtual machines that ensure your website stays available during infrastructure and maintenance upgrades.
  • Google Cloud’s unrivalled throughput with VMs having nearly 3x the network throughput of their AWS and Azure counterparts (check out this study here). This means that a website hosted on Google Cloud will not experience longer page load times during peak traffic.

6. Why work with a Google Cloud Partner like Pawa IT Solutions?

As a Certified Google Cloud partner, Pawa IT Solutions endeavours to ensure it has qualified Google Certified Engineers; these engineers will walk you through the web hosting service you need and proceed to aid your implementation efforts. They break down the complexities of the Cloud for you and take your business requirements into account so as to provide the highest return on investment for your company.

Pawa IT Solutions also guarantees quality technical support. Along the way, you’re likely to encounter issues with your website hosting setup. When this happens, you’ll want a quick, simple, and comprehensive support solution to troubleshoot whatever problems you’ve run into. Pawa IT Solutions offers accelerated response times with an SLA, more communication channels, greater availability, and escalation choices for more immediate issues.

Additionally, we have provided cloud solutions to more than 300 businesses across 22 African countries. Pawa IT Solutions has a better idea of the challenges businesses and organizations face and will help your organization make the most out of its web hosting.

Summary

As you can see, there are numerous benefits to using cloud hosting and partnering with a company like Pawa IT Solutions to move your website to the cloud. You and your customers can benefit from the peace of mind of knowing that sensitive data is protected by state-of-the-art security and a team of experts. When you need support, you can reach out to Pawa IT’s expert support professionals, who are available as per your agreed Service Level Agreement.

After all of this, the only question left is: What are you waiting for? Save time and costs while maximizing site performance with:

  • Instant help from our website hosting experts.
  • FREE SSL implementation.
  • Worldwide Availability.
  • Resource Scaling: Horizontal and vertical
  • DNS Management.

All of that and much more, in one plan with no long-term contracts, assisted migrations, and partner management and support. Check out our cloud hosting plans or talk to sales to find the plan that’s right for you.