If you are a web professional such as a Web Designer or Web Developer then web hosting can be an attractive form of additional recurring revenue for your business. As long as you offer a good hosting solution to them which is fast and reliable then the chances are that you can develop a predictable, long term additional revenue stream for your business.
Getting up and running is surprisingly easy and if you have a customer ready to go then you could have them up and running in just a few minutes.
There are three main options for you as follows:
- Shared Hosting
- Reseller Hosting
- Virtual Private Server (VPS)
If developing an extra revenue stream for your business is of interest to you then read on because I’ll help you to make an informed decision about which is the best option for you.
How Does Hosting Work?
Before we explore the options in depth it’s worth taking a moment to quickly understand what hosting is and what are the key points to be aware of.
The Datacentre (or Datacenter) is the heart of the hosting operation. It is a secure, purpose built facility that houses the computer hardware and telecommunications connections that provide the hosting service. It also has the necessary environmental controls to keep the equipment at optimum operating conditions of temperature and the safety controls to minimise the risk of fire.
The Datacentre also has resilient power supplies and multiple generators to cope with any power outages and an onsite team of web professionals 24 hours a day to ensure constant connectivity.
Pickaweb operates from a Tier 3 Datacentre in North London which meets the very highest standards in terms of uptime and security.
Server Hardware Infrastructure
In terms of your data and your clients’ data, it is physically hosted in a server which is a powerful computer stored in a purpose built rack. Each server is purpose built to maximise speed and uptime. Here at Pickaweb we only use Enterprise grade servers and components with extra redundancy built in (redundancy means using dual components to minimise the risk of downtime caused by hardware failure).
Our servers are built with the following outline spec:
- Dual Intel Six Core Processors (CPU)
- 96GB RAM
- 10K SAS Enterprise Hard Drives
- RAID 10 Disk Configuration (Hardware RAID)
- Hot Swap Hard Drives
- Dual Power Supplies
- Dual Network Cards
This is just the minimum specification for shared hosting servers. Often you will be hosted on slower 7.2K SATA hard drives. We have prepared a comparison of SATA and SAS disks so that you understand the differences and why we only use 10K SAS drives as a minimum.
Cloud VPS HardWare Infrastructure
In terms of our VPS we offer these in a high availability cloud infrastructure. Basically a traditional VPS is where one physical server is divided into logical or virtual servers (VPS) so that multiple VPS can be hosted on one physical machine.
However, there are limitations to this approach since there are physical constraints imposed by the server itself. You can only expand as far as the server’s physical limitations permit, i.e. CPU, RAM and diskspace.
With a Cloud VPS setup that Pickaweb uses, the VPS data is spread over a number of servers which make up a cloud. This way there is less possibility of downtime caused by hardware failure. This is because one entire server can fail and it will not impact the overall performance of the cloud as the data is stored across several servers in the cloud.
At Pickaweb we offer VPS with 10K SAS Drives as standard and we also offer SSD VPS too.
Server Software Configuration
- Linux – Most popular OpenSource Operating System
- Apache – Web Server which allows files to be transferred from the Web Server and displayed on a web browser (i.e. your PC or mobile phone’s browser)
- MySQL – Popular database software
- PHP – Scripting language commonly used to perform MySQL database queries
Web Hosting Control Panel
On top of this setup there is also a Web Hosting Control Panel which is a graphical interface used by the Server Administrator, Resellers and end users (i.e. customers).
The Control Panel we use is cPanel and it is a hierarchical software as follows:
- Full WHM (Web Host Manager) – used by Server Administrators and offers full control over a server
- Reseller WHM – reduced set of server administration features intended for use by Resellers
- cPanel – end user control panel to perform day to day tasks associated with a web hosting account
Additional Server Performance Software
The server’s software configuration plays an important role in offering fast, high uptime hosting. For our shared servers we offer a number of enhanced software components which many hosts will not include as part of their service but which are standard for all of our hosting plans. These are:
- CloudLinux – A Lightweight Virtual Environment (LVE) tool that restricts the resources available to individual accounts. This prevents ‘noisy neighbours’ from hogging key server resources such as CPU and RAM which can result in degraded server performance and downtime.
- SpamExperts – SpamExperts is an Enterprise grade spam filter which is over 99% accurate at identifying and preventing spam and other malware based email such as phishing. Pickaweb uses SpamExperts to monitor all outgoing email to reduce the possibility of our servers getting blacklisted. Having a good IP reputation is vital to ensuring a high level of service to our clients.
- LiteSpeed – LiteSpeed is a drop in replacement for Apache Web Server. It offers much higher speeds than Apache. Pickaweb offers LiteSpeed hosting as standard.
Different Types Of Hosting – Shared, Reseller And VPS
Now that you understand the main components of a hosting service, let’s turn our attention to the three main different types of hosting. We’ll look at the advantages of each so that you can make an informed decision about which is the right one for your circumstances.
Shared hosting is where individual web hosting accounts are hosted on a server along with other websites. They effectively ‘share’ the server’s key resources such as disk space, CPU and RAM. As noted above, Pickaweb uses CloudLinux on all shared hosting servers so the risk of degraded service due to ‘noisy neighbours’ is dramatically reduced as each hosting account has a limit on the resources it can use. These limits are generous enough to ensure a high level of performance whilst at the same time protecting other users from abuse by one or two accounts.
With Shared Hosting the client receives their own cPanel login and they can self manage by creating email accounts and domain parking and any other day to day tasks.
In terms of support, clients can access our 24 x 7 support team by phone, chat and email. Our team of trained technicians will work with them to resolve any issues they have.
Is Shared Hosting Right For You?
Shared hosting is a good option for you if you want to refer your clients to Pickaweb and earn a commission on referrals. This way you can earn extra revenue without having to do anything other than refer your clients.
Pickaweb will do all of the support for your clients so you don’t have to worry about that. You can just continue with your main business.
This is an important point if you are a Web Designer or Developer because providing basic support for clients such as configuring emails, resetting passwords is maybe not the best use of your time.
The downside is that it is not the most attractive solution for you from a financial perspective. If you are prepared to support your clients then Reseller Hosting or VPS is a much more attractive option as we shall see.
If you are interested in earning commissions on referrals just contact us and ask about our affiliate scheme.
With Reseller Hosting you are allocated a bulk amount of diskspace and bandwidth to resell on to your clients. As long as you are within the limits of these resources then you can sell as many hosting services as you like.
When you sign up as a Reseller you have a login area to a system called WHM (Web Host Manager) which works with the hosting control panel, cPanel.
With WHM you effectively become like a hosting company where you can create hosting packages/plans (e.g. Gold, Silver, Bronze) and you can create hosting accounts for your clients.
You have the ability to suspend, unsuspend and terminate accounts as well as upgrade or downgrade them and offer more advanced features such as DNS records (e.g. MX Records, etc.).
There is no licensing to pay for WHM or cPanel or anything like that – this is all included in the price.
As a Reseller you are expected to provide first line technical support to your clients. Our 24×7 support team is there in the background to support you if you get stuck, but you must always maintain the contact with your customers.
Is Reseller Hosting Right For You?
If you check our Reseller Plans you will see that you would only need to sell a few hosting services to your clients to have an additional, attractive ongoing income stream for your business. So it is definitely more attractive from a financial perspective than Shared Hosting.
With a Reseller Plan each client gets their own cPanel access so they can service themselves and perform most of the day to day tasks. In reality this would mainly involve setting up their email accounts.
As mentioned above Reseller hosting allows you to create a high number of hosting accounts within the main limits of disk space and bandwidth. However, there is little room for scaling resources such as CPU or RAM.
Also with Reseller Hosting there is less flexibility in terms of the applications you can run and there may be more security restrictions than with a VPS. This is because we need to offer a standardised hosting environment. This shouldn’t really pose a problem though unless you are running more exotic applications or have particular security needs.
Also with Reseller Hosting the learning curve is quite gentle. You don’t need to be an experienced Server Administrator or anything like that. We have a comprehensive library of Reseller Tutorials and if you get stuck we are here to help you 24 x 7.
However, Resellers are responsible for first line support for their clients. This may sound worrying at first, but what you may find is that there is an initial period of familiarisation when they need help configuring their emails and then there will be infrequent support requests.
Don’t necessarily think that you will be inundated with support requests unless you really do scale your business. In this case you could probably afford to invest in some kind of support infrastructure for your clients.
You would also be responsible for billing your clients. In the early stages with one or two clients this won’t be an issue and you could probably maintain good records on a spreadsheet. If your business does grow though then you would need to look at a more robust solution to save you time and also maximise your opportunities.
In such cases we do offer a fully automated web hosting billing tool called WHMCS for free with our Reseller Plus plan. This is ideal if you are really focused on developing the hosting side of your business and it automates many key features such as automatic hosting provisioning, welcome and reminder emails, automated domain registration and recurring billing.
With VPS Hosting you effectively get a full server with complete control. With a Reseller you get a limited set of features, but the VPS offers you complete control over the software configuration as well as allocated RAM and CPU so you have a much more flexible and powerful solution.
Not only that, you have a much more scalable solution. Because our VPS are cloud based you can add as many resources as you need, when you need them. If you want more CPU, RAM or Diskspace you can just add it as you need it.
Unless you are building extremely demanding websites that are going to be processing huge volumes of traffic a VPS solution should be perfect for the foreseeable future.
However, power and flexibility comes at a price. A VPS is a slightly more expensive solution and you will also need to purchase a cPanel VPS licence which we provide, whereas with the Reseller Hosting the cPanel cost is included.
A VPS also requires more technical knowledge than a Reseller account. That means you would need to configure the server security settings on setup and then perform normal housekeeping tasks such as updating the Operating System Kernel to the latest version, removing unwanted packages, installation and configuration of firewall and other ongoing security related activities.
If this doesn’t sound like something you want to do then you could let us do it all for you as we offer a full VPS Management Service, but that will push the cost up again.
Is A VPS Right For You?
If you are starting to grow your hosting business and you are getting a consistent number of clients onboard each month then you should consider switching to a VPS as soon as possible.
The costs may be higher but you will find that you have much more flexibility in terms of the power and configuration as well as the ability to scale up as your requirements grow.
Even if you aren’t that technical you can use our Server Management Service to keep your server fully up to date and protected.
Also, if you are a Web Designer or Developer and you are building powerful websites for your clients then it makes sense to host them on an appropriate platform. A VPS will offer you the ability to upsell a higher value service where more power can be added as required to ensure that their sites run really fast.
Choosing between Shared Hosting, Reseller Hosting and VPS depends on several criteria.
If you just want to pass on your clients and receive a commission then Shared Hosting is the best alternative. It is a clean process and there is zero ongoing responsibility on your part. The service is fully managed and you do not need to provide any support to your clients.
If you want to develop an ongoing revenue stream then a Reseller Hosting is a good choice. It can be very profitable for you and whilst you don’t have to worry about server management or anything too technical you are responsible for first line support for your clients.
If you want to offer high levels of power and you need the flexibility to configure your software exactly as you want it then a VPS is the best solution for you. It is slightly more expensive and you would need to pay for a cPanel VPS licence as well as offering first line support and managing your own server. If you aren’t comfortable with the technical side of things then we offer a Server Management Service.