Understand Hosting

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Steps to Planning Hosting Services

 

  1. You must be absolutely clear why you are considering a hosted service. Make sure that terms are defined, objectives are clear and that all parties know exactly what is expected of them and how process improvements can be made.

  2. Scoping. You will need to ensure that you scope your requirements accordingly. While you might have plans for a global ecommerce site, you might not initially need a comprehensible service with a price to match! It is much easier to increase your requirements as and when your needs change.

  3. It is important that when you request proposals that they meet your business and technical demands, but also that they are ‘like for like’. While it may seem obvious that the most expensive is not necessarily the best, you should make sure you find out why one company is more expensive than another. Perhaps they have a more secure or resilient service. Make sure you ask why there are differences.

  1. Security. It is important that your data is protected and that unauthorised access is prevented. For example, a bank will have an undertaking to protect its’ customer records and financial details. This protection must be ongoing even with backup data. Unauthorised access of customer records will be in breach of the Data Protection Act.

  2. Length of agreement. The agreement should allow you flexibility so you can change certain areas of the agreement especially when it comes to renewing or cancelling it. Ensure that the agreement is long enough to make a difference and short enough to remain flexible.

  3. Scope and terms. Make sure that terms within any agreement are defined, and that any objectives and the SLA’s are clear. Ensure that all parties know exactly what is expected of them.

  4. Will the SLA compensate your organisation should you suffer financial loss due to an issue caused by your hosting provider?

  5. Compliance. If your organisation is effected by legislation or codes of conduct such as Sarbanes-Oxley, this must be considered and be potentially written in to any agreement. Legislation and codes of conduct relating to records generally fall within the remit of your companies IT function so ensure the new system keeps you compliant.

  6. Backup. You need to ensure that backups or copies of vital information are kept regularly. This will ensure that if any of your vital information is lost or if you experience some technical issues your data can be quickly and easily recovered.

  7. Transition plan. You will need to work with your hosting company to fully identify how the services will be transferred if you are moving from another supplier.

 

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Service Level Agreement

 

A service level agreement (SLA) is a list of services and objectives that the hosting company agrees to deliver. These terms can differ according to organisation type. For example, if your company uses the website to sell goods or services and this service wasn't working properly this would have a negative impact on your business and credibility. It is important that you agree on a SLA to ensure that any commitments made by the hosting company are legally binding.

 

The SLA provides a framework that both you and your service provider agree to. In broad terms, it may be that the hosting company must respond to an issue within a fixed time, provide you with problem management and resolution and offer performance measurement reporting. 

 

If the SLA conditions are consistently not met, you could terminate the agreement and your supplier could face penalties. Theses penalties are often financial and therefore act as a deterrent to delivering poor service (unless there are justifying circumstances).  

 

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Summary of Hosting

 

Hosting is a very effective way of reducing costs and providing companies with web based services such as e-commerce that would otherwise be extremely expensive to provide.

 

However, you must have very clear objectives and ensure that any agreement you enter into is scalable to meet your future business requirements. The hosting service you choose should be flexible to adapt with your changing business requirements. It is best to start with a service that you can upgrade and change at a later date, if or when your business requires you to do so. As revenues increase you can increase your hosting services requirements in line with those changes. This will help you grow your business in manageable steps.

 

 

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