Web Hosting Considerations

In the construction business, there are rarely ever any easy decisions. As companies adopt web-based construction software, they find themselves faced with a number of not-always-easy decisions surrounding where and how to host their applications and data. One common and understandable misconception is that cloud computing always means subscribing to software as a service and accessing your applications in the public cloud.

In reality, and especially for business management software, most applications will still be purchased and deployed in private clouds where you have more control over your hosting services. Which means it’s important to understand and explore your options. Here are four considerations that should play a role in your decision making:

Cost

One of the most important decisions to make is whether you should host your own cloud applications or use a hosting service. Like anything, there are costs and benefits going the do-it-yourself (DIY) route. The following are the primary costs to consider for both options:

Hosting Services:

  • Server resources
  • Data storage

DIY Hosting:

  • Server hardware
  • Data storage (onsite and offsite backup)
  • Server software
  • Facilities (space, racks/cabling, power, cooling)
  • Labor

Infrastructure

Whether you self-host or you outsource, moving more software resources to the cloud will mean changes in bandwidth usage at your company. Generally, you can expect greater demands on both upload and download requirements between your facilities and the Internet. If, however, remote or field staff are big users of your cloud software applications, then company network loads can actually go down. The only real way to know is to establish regular network traffic monitoring and look at trends over time.

Technology

Most of the time, we get what we pay for, and it’s no different with hosting technologies. When considering your options, be sure to compare how much money you are spending, investing or leasing and compare that to the data speed and safety services you’re receiving. Without going into detail, here are some technology topics to ask your service providers or vendors about:

  • Dedicated server resources
  • Fast and redundant link to the Internet
  • Intelligent routing protocols
  • Load balancing
  • Geographically secure data backup
  • Data snapshots
  • DDoS protection
  • Disaster recovery

And last, but not least…Security

Security may be your number one concern when choosing your hosting solution. After all, you’re talking about storage and access of vital and sensitive company information. Previously I discussed the relative security of cloud computing solutions. When properly deployed, a hosted application can be as secure a place for your data as a server behind your company firewall. Here are the primary requirements that you’ll want to ensure are part of your cloud deployment:

Standards

  • SAS 70 Types I, II, III, or…
  • SSAE 16 (with SOC 1, 2, 3)

Transport

  • SSL to TLS (asymmetric key cryptography)
  • 128-bit (“strong”) encryption

Physical Protection

  • 24/7/365 on-site security
  • Data center access protection (biometrics, etc.)

I know this is a lot of information to consider, so if you have any questions, please leave a comment.

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