What is hosting and why do I need it?
10th October 2012
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Now and again a client will come to us at Novamedia and ask what hosting is and why they need to pay for it. Although we set this out upfront when beginning a job a client may sometimes forget about this service we are providing them with and the costs involved (after all, quality hosting should be something you are able to have minimal involvement in as it should just work!).

So after several questions about hosting from clients we have realised that perhaps we have not been clear enough in the past about what hosting actually is.

Hopefully this blog post will answer all those questions.

What is hosting? Hosting is literally where your website lives. A website must exist on a computer (called a server) which has access to the internet and is running web server software.

When somebody using the internet tries to visit a page on your website they send a request for that page over the internet from their computer to the server where the website is hosted (aha!). The server will then send the requested page back to the user’s computer which will look all pretty in their web browser.

In essence that is all there is to it although technically this can get quite complicated! A server can be any computer which is connected to the internet. Any PC or Mac with a connection to the internet and the correct software installed can act as a web server but you get many advantages when you use a server specially designed and installed for the job.

Our server Our server does not sit in our office keeping us all nice and warm but is installed in a datacentre.

A datacentre is a building with the specific purpose of housing servers. There are many advantages to keeping our server here:

  • The datacentre is temperature controlled so that the servers do not get too hot and can therefore provide their best performance.
  • The connection to the internet at the datacentre is unlike your broadband connection in your office or at home.
  • Datecentres lease a large amount of bandwidth so that upload and download speeds are very fast and very consistent.
  • The hardware used to connect to the internet is extremely high-end and there are backup solutions in place if hardware is to fail.
  • The datacentre is physically very secure so that hardware and more importantly data, are protected. Backups to an offsite location are performed regularly, ensuring that you never lose your important data.

The above advantages ensure we are able to provide high-availability worry-free hosting for your website or application.

Speaking of applications In order to create a website or web application which does more than present static pages of text and images to the user extra software is required on our server.

Most importantly we require a web application server and database server. We use Adobe ColdFusion and MySQL respectively.

ColdFusion provides us with an architecture which allows to efficiently build rich, scalable applications which can do almost anything you can think of.

MySQL provides us with a robust and well-supported database for storing the data which these applications rely upon.

Why do I need to pay for you to host my website? You don’t! But you will need to pay somebody to host it. The implementation and management of our hosting service obviously requires an on-going commitment for us and we believe that the service we provide is extremely good value for money.

The websites and applications which we build for you are specifically designed for the software environment on our server and so by hosting with us you can be assured that your site will just work (and in the rare case where there is a problem we have systems in place which immediately alert us to it so we can go about fixing it)!

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