Choosing the Right Hosting Provider ASP.NET

Our experience with several bad hosting companies provided valuable lessons about choosing the right hosting company.Page flakes started with very inex pensive hosting providers and gradually went to one of the most expensive hosting providers in the U.S.—Rackspace.They solved SQL Server 2005- and IIS-related problems that we frequently had to solve our selves. So,when you choose a hosting provider, make sure it has Windows 2003 and IIS 6.0 experts, as well as SQL Server 2005 experts.While running production systems, there ’s always a possibility that you will have trouble that is beyond your capability.Onsite, skilled technicians are the only way to survive a disaster like that.

However, the problem with such a top-tier hosting provider is the high cost.The reasonable web hosting configuration in Figure 10-1 would cost about $30,000 per month.Be sure to provision your IT budget before you sign with a top-tier hosting company.You don’t want to get into a situation where you need the space but don’t have the funds to pay for it.

Checklist for Choosing the Right Hosting Provider

There are a number of issues to be aware of when finding the right hosting provider:

  • Test the ping time of a server in the same data center where you will be putting the server.Ping time should be less than 40 ms within the U.S.and around 250 ms from several other world-wide locations including London, Singapore, Brazil,and Germany.
  • Ensure there is multiple back bone connectivity and intelligent routing capability that chooses the best hops from different countries. Do tracert from different countries and ensure the server is available to get anywhere in the world within 10 to 14 hops. If your hosting provider is in the U.S.,the server should be available within five to eight hops from anywhere else in the U.S
  • Ensure there are only three hops from the Internet backbone to your server.You can verify this by checking the last three entries in tracert.The last entry should be your server IP and two entries back should be the Internet back bone provider.This guarantees there’s only one gateway between your server and the Internet back bone.If there are more hops, that means the provider has a complex network and you will waste latency.
  • 24× 7 phone support to expert technicians. Call them on a weekend night and give them a complex technical problem.If the technician says she is only filling in for the real experts until they get back to the office on Monday,discard the provider immediately.A good hosting provider will have expert technicians available at 3 a.m.on Saturday night.You will usually need technicians late night on Saturday and Sunday to do maintenance work and upgrades.
  • Live chat support.This helps immensely when you are travelling and cannot make a phone call.
  • Ability to customize your dedicated servers as you want.You do not want to be limited to a predefined package.This will provide an indication of whether they have an in-house technician who can build and customize servers.
  • It can provide you all kinds of software,including SQL Server Enterprise edition,Microsoft Exchange 2007, Windows 2003 R2,and Windows Server 2008, once it releases in 2008. If it can’t,it probably doesn’t have a good software vendor.
  • It must be able to provide you with 15,000 RPM SCSI drives and storage area network. If it can’t, don’t consider this provider. You won’t be able to grow your business with a provider if it doesn’t have these capabilities.
  • Before you set up a whole data center with a hosting provider, make sure you get a server and make it something that you will need in two years.See how fast and reliably they can hand over a server like this to you. It will be an expensive exp- eriment, but if you ever get in involved with a bad hosting provider without doing this, the time and money spent to get out of the contract is much more than the cost of this experiment.

• Make sure the service-level agreement (SLA) guarantees the following:

  • 99.99 percent network uptime. Deduction in monthly rent if there is an outage in the amount of specified time and number of occurrences.
  • Maximum two-hour delay with hardware replacement for defective hard drives,network cards,mother board equipment, controllers,and other input devices.
  • Full cooperation if you want to get out of its service and go somewhere else.Make sure the hosting provider doesn’t put you in a lifetime contract.
  • if there is service cancellation,you will be able to delete all data stored in any storage and backup storages.
  • Maximum two-hour delay in responding to support tickets.

This is not an exhaustive list—there are many other scenarios in which things go wrong with a hosting provider.But these are some of the common killer issues that you must try to prevent.

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