Part I.(1) How to Start Your Own Web Hosting Company


Part I.(1) How to Start Your Own Web Hosting Company

Are you planning to set up your own web hosting company? After all, the sheer number of hosting companies out there must mean that they’re on to something. Maybe there’s money to be made off it? And the fact that quite a few hosting operations are run by young guns, probably has you thinking, ‘How hard can it be?’

Well, before you even start ‘fantasizing’ of a life of leisure, spending money you’ve earned off your hosting venture, here’s a reality check. Not only is running a web hosting company a trial, starting one is even more challenging.

How challenging?

To begin with, here are some things to consider:

* Money – Or how much of it you’re willing to spend. Even if you could find ‘free’ software, hardware does cost money, not to mention personnel if you don’t have,

* Technical Know-How – Have you done your research on the latest hardware & software and how they work?

* Time – Or how much of it you’re willing to devote to the business. After all, many hosting clients demand 24/7 support.

Okay, let’s say you’ve thought about the above considerations at length and still want to go ahead, what do you need to start?

1. Company registration – you need to register your trade (Doing Business As) name before you can even start operating.

2. Servers – Lease, rent or buy, it’s still going to cost you.*

3. Space – Where do you keep the servers (and run it from)?*

*These two are intertwined:

* If you buy: it’s going to be really expensive but you can get them custom built to suit you exact needs (as desktop quality PCs aren’t really recommended.). Consider: :
o Running from Home: Although you’ll have more control over your servers, keeping them in your garage is really NOT recommended, unless you can ensure, among other things: uninterrupted power; climate control; security; and decent network connection

o Colocation: Your hardware is kept in a data center where you have 24/7 physical access and the data center merely provides electric and fast connection to the internet.
+ Pros: very flexible; you can build your own servers and determine how network is set up; easy set-up of a private network or a firewall; offers you free reign over hardware configuration

+ Cons: expensive; you’re responsible for your own hardware (repairs and replacements)

* If you rent: The data server owns the hardware and rents it to you.
o Pros: they’re responsible for the hardware; faster repair times than collocation since there are always techs there to perform them for you; data centers are also able to buy servers in bulk so hardware costs are considerably lower.

* If you lease: Consider:
o Lease-to- own: plans are available from such companies as Dell or Gateway

o Resellers: You get a special shared account on the server, with a web-based control panel (usually cPanel) for adding domains and accounts.
+ Pros: ideal if you’re just starting and have not-so-strong system administration skills
+ Cons: no root level access; you’re responsible for what your customers do on the server; your service is only as good as your host’s

o Virtual Dedicated Servers: Acts like its own unique server.
+ Pros: with root level access; has many of the strengths of a reseller arrangement with greater flexibility

4. Bandwidth – DSL or cable just won’t cut it. You need at least a T1 connection to satisfy your clients’ speed requirements.

5. Personnel – If you’re not really savvy about how servers run and how their associated software work, you need to either hire people for tech/customer support or outsource them. This is also essential if you can’t devote 24/7 to answer customer queries etc.
6. Software – To automate all your hosting tasks. Includes (but not limited to):
Operating Systems; Control Panels; Customer Support/Tracking/Management

Whew! Quite a list huh? But wait! We’re not through yet.

More things to consider in Part II.