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The Silent Partner for Your E-Business?
By : Lisa
We have all
been hearing the hype about online business--proponents declare that it's
the way of the future; detractors claim that it will never replace
brick-and-mortar business...which is reality?
The truth falls somewhere in the middle: Online business will never replace
brick-and-mortar, but an online presence will be integral to the business
model of any successful business. Already, e-commerce revenues are in the
billions, and experiencing exponential growth. Any business that wishes to
be competitive in this new marketplace--including your business--cannot
ignore the power of e-commerce.
Many of you have taken that first step in putting your business online: You
have done your research, identified your brand, and chosen and registered a
domain name that speaks to your brand. That was the easy part. If you
haven't yet registered your domain name, don't fret! You can easily do it
After domain registration, what follows next may be one of the most
important decisions you make for your e-business...finding the right hosting
company. This is as important to the quality of your business as finding the
right partner, and many people--even experienced webmasters-- find the
experience daunting. I would like to share my hosting experience with
you-perhaps it will make your decision-making process a little easier.
Hosting isn't glamorous, but as you know, it is the backbone of your
That is why I refer to it as the "silent partner." A good hosting company is
dependable, with a steady "up-time" track record. After all, what good is a
web site if it's down? A good hosting company should operate like the
electric company--every day you wake up, it's there, working. However, even
the most reliable companies need to periodically take the system down for
maintenance. Your hosting company should inform its customers in advance,
and perform that maintenance at off-peak hours--so as not to unduly burden
your web business.
The next things to look for I call the "Four S's:" Service, Software,
Support, and Space.
An extremely important (and often overlooked) factor is Service.
Unfortunately, many hosting companies end their relationship with you the
moment the server sale is made. This leaves unanswered the crucial question,
"Okay, I've got a server--now what?" This is critical when you consider that
some companies are so controlling that web masters are discouraged from
customizing and/or managing sites for their clients! Other hosting companies
give you space on a server, but nothing more--you have to configure the
server and set up all the back-end functionality manually!
As you have probably done this before, I don't need to tell you what a
time-consuming and laborious task this is. My best service experience has
been with Virtualis. So much so that I've spent the last 2 years with them!
If you have questions, they are on-call 24/7 to answer them--they even have
discussion boards where fellow customers can offer advice and helpful tips.
Good service means providing a community of resources throughout the life of
In addition to Service, the ideal hosting solution also provides easy-to-use
web management tools. This is the third "S:" Software. Although many
companies offer some of these features, my choice for the hosting company
with the best overall tool suite is Virtualis. They offer tools that are
easy enough for a novice to quickly understand, and customizable enough for
a web master to optimize. In my experience, one of the incredibly useful
tools is the Virtualis Email Manager.
The email manager has saved me a lot of time from manual configuration. You
can quickly and easily set up email accounts, set up and remove POPs, create
auto-responders, create aliases, and more. Virtualis has 21 tools in
all--certainly more than I can cover in this article! One of the best
features of the Virtualis hosting software suite is that it is totally
web-based. This allows for instant accessibility, no matter where you
are--certainly helpful if you travel frequently or have customers covering a
wide geographical area.
Even for experienced web developers, a primary consideration is Support.
Questions always arise as you develop sites and add features and/or
functionality. The ideal hosting company will be there to assist you along
the way, as well as talk you through any rough spots. Since support issues
are rarely constrained to regular business hours, make sure that your chosen
hosting company offers support 24/7 (just in case), and offers a variety of
means to contact support, such as telephone, email, and web-based access.
Finally, "Space," refers to how much server room you will need to
store/manage your digital data. How much space you need can be determined by
how much content you will post, how much data you will store, and how much
traffic you are expecting. Ideally, you should find a company like Virtualis
that offers both shared and dedicated servers--that way, you can start
small, and expand as your online business grows.
Shared servers are simply servers that are shared with other businesses.
Most small to medium-sized businesses prefer shared hosting because it is
cost-effective and can be scaled to the amount of space that your business
needs. Virtualis offers shared "Virtual" servers that range from the VS
Mini, at 30 MB of space, all the way up to the VS Meta, which has 300MB of
disk space. Of course, if you require more space, a dedicated server option
is likely best for you. Virtualis offers five different dedicated servers
that range in size from 4.2 gigs (the DEDA1) to the huge DEDA5, which has 18
gigs of space.
I hope my experiences will aid you in your hosting selection process. You
need to look at reliability, service, software, support, and space. That
way, you can wisely choose the "silent partner," who will deliver steady
uptime, sophisticated time-saving tools, and supreme customer support. After
much personal research, and after consulting my good friend, Jim Daniels, I
chose Virtualis. From getting my domain name to finding the right hosting
package for my needs, my silent partner-Virtualis-made getting my business
online impossibly easy.
For more information on how Virtualis can be your silent partner, go to.....
About the Author :
This article was written by Lisa Schmeckpeper of LRS Marketing and
published in their free newsletter, Website Success Monthly. To receive a
free copy of this informative e-zine just send email to
or visit their website at
Copyright © 2000 [LRS Marketing]. All rights reserved.