Digital experiences and hosting services

Should one continue hosting with a traditional multi-service provider or consider newer, specialised hosting and digital services?

Hosting companies, over the years, have added services to their portfolio and the promise is the ‘cPanel’ that an organisation gets with all the services on offer. You can ftp, manage databases, host WordPress sites or others, manage email and more. It has been a compelling footprint of services.

Given the cyber security environment, is it advisable to be in a single vendor scenario? The risks of account compromise ( at user end) or service compromise ( at vendor end) will result in multiple things going down. Is there merit in revisiting options to make use of newer service offerings, improve security and do things differently?

The options are :

  1. Continue with the current provider and upgrade to a more contemporary package in their offering. From a policy standpoint, ideal would be to move away from their legacy accounts and plans and onto newer infrastructure. Legacy plans tend to have downgraded service levels. That is a risk!
  2. Move to another vendor with a similar set of services. Even there, unless an organisation has good IT teams to manage infrastructure, it is better to opt for managed services. The managed services aspect maintains a level of response that you can expect.

In both scenarios, the single source of failure is a significant risk that needs mitigation or at least understood. Given the current cyber security environment, the risks of account compromise ( at user end) or service compromise ( at vendor end) will impact multiple services.

That brings option 3 into the picture. This itself can be viewed in multiple ways.

  1. In this option,
    • Evaluate managed services
    • Have multiple vendors instead of one
    • Local data centres or one that is near your city / country

Broadly, an organisation has 3 core areas in the traditional plan

Email – It is better to be on managed email services than email on shared hosting plans! You aim for a high availability and secure mail solution. It might change the cost structure because these services are on offered on a per user basis. Cloud drive space, productivity or business applications form a part of these managed services bundle. This would entail a migration process at the backend and then for user email id setup but not complicated.

Databases / Business application – If your business databases or business apps running on php, these could be moved to one of the cloud services. There may be no re-tooling of the application and a migration of service providers might do the job. A preferred data centre could help boost application performance or compliance objectives of the organisation.

This transition can be an opportunity to consider low code platforms to create a more modern application that is also accessible over mobile apps. The objective being to manage the business information aspect of the work, connecting other workflows and reduce the technology management.

Websites – An organisation running WordPress or other content management systems should consider managed hosting for that platform. The benefits of automated plugin updates, core updates and optional content delivery network or additional security services is a necessity.

If a business has a static site, then Jamstack based static site generators can be evaluated. They promise high speed sites and potentially better security. Variants range from open sourced and to dedicated services and complex workflows. These may involve recreating existing sites within these platform but the cost / manageability may go down.

In summary,

  • The third option provides the organisation the flexibility of using a solution that fits the organisation’s growing requirements.
  • While finalising the stack, keep in mind that managed services will be more optimised and deliver better performance.
  • With the additional benefit of using any tech stack that future needs may require.
  • In moving from the traditional setup, there will be a multi-step transition and it would need to be planned adequately but it is not complex.

Indicative services to explore

EmailMicrosoft 365, Zoho Workplace, Google Workspace
CloudAWS, Azure, Google Cloud, Linode, Digital Ocean
Low Code PlatformsZoho Creator
ServerlessZoho Catalyst, options within Cloud platforms services
Managed WordPressWordPress.com, WPengine
JamstackSite generators

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