Switching to VPS Hosting

The most basic websites start off with a shared hosting plan – which is cheapest and requires the least technical knowledge/ability to start.

Advantages and disadvantages of a shared web host (source: WHSR).

Shared hosting accounts shared a pool of server resources assigned by hosting companies – if one of the shared hosting accounts gulps a large share of resources – other websites hosted on the same server will suffer slow load time or even outage. This is a common problem for a web host that practices overselling.

An article on Winning WP says that:

You should almost definitely consider moving away from shared hosting if you’re running a serious online business

I beg to differ. As long as your website is working alright there is no reason to switch to a VPS. But if you need a hosting environment with better security, flexibility, and reliability – a VPS host is your next move.

Here’s when you should consider switching –

  • Getting high incoming traffics – you need to upgrade your server capacity. Sometimes you will get notified by your shared hosting provider when you are pulling too much resources from the shared server.
  • When you need a stable stream of server resources for better reliability.
  • To implement better backups, advanced monitoring, and security features (secure shell access – SSH).
  • When you need complete control over your web host – to install a custom software or custom configuration, for examples.
  • To manage multiple clients’ website hosting on your account – for example if you are a web developer who help your clients to design and host their websites; and you want to give server access to your clients.

A comprehensive guide to VPS hosting

Comprehensive guide on VPS hosting (source: HostPapa)

Three Useful Pinterest Boards for Bloggers

Pinterest presents an easy way to consume web content – especially for visual-based learners. For bloggers, experienced or newbies, here are the three Pitnerest Boards I highly recommend:

Run2 Blog

Digital marketing, social media, SEO, PPC, UX design, business ideas – Run2 Blog Pinterest Board covers pretty much everything you need to start and grow a blog.

URL > https://www.pinterest.com/run2agency/run2-blog/

Smart Passive Income Podcasts

From running an eight-figure business to motivational speaking and jumping higher – Pat Flynn has done it all. This Pinterest Board collects Pat’s weekly interviews as well as his advice for building an online business. Your blog is a business – so build it.

URL > https://www.pinterest.com/patrickflynn/smart-passive-income-podcasts/

Writing Advice, Tips & Tools

The universal rule in blogging: Better writer = better blogger. Tips shared in this board will help you to be a better writer.

URL > https://www.pinterest.com/kamigarcia/writing-advice-tips-tools/

On Choosing A Web Host: My Best Is Not Your Best

There are 1000 hosting companies in the world and they all claim they are the best.

And majority of them are, in fact, correct.

Because “Best” is relative.

What’s best for me is best for (well) me. What’s best for you might not be right for me.

If I am hosting my school projects that I only need the site to be alive for the next 6 months, a free web host with limited features like 000 Web Host or Award Space would be *the best* for me.

Not only that your “Best” hosting provider – like this one, that gives ultra fast network, excessive server resource,  and spoon-fed customer support that charges $200/month is not best, it’s not even in my first 100 consideration list.

Truth is – those looking to emerge on the internet have a slew of options and an abundance of hosting providers.  You have got your free web hosting services – as mention earlier. Then there’s shared, VPS, dedicated, cloud, as well as managed cloud (something only seen recently).

It really depends on what you want and need; and how much you are willing to pay. Different websites have different needs – you should select a host that suits your budget and requirements.

Knowing your needs before signing up the “best” hosting

So what does your website need from its host?

Can you answer that question in clear-written bullet points? Some basic questions to ask yourself include:

  • What kind of website or blog are you building?
  • Are you going to build and host just one website; or multiple?
  • Do you need to park a lot of unused domain names with this host?
  • Do you want something common (a WordPress blog, perhaps) so it’s easier to get help?
  • Do you need Windows applications?
  • Do you need support for a specific programming language (like Java or Python)?
  • How much your website traffic is going to grow for the next 6 months?

Hosting Reviews and Best Lists?

Don’t rely too much on what you can find on Google – 9 out of 10 of these “best hosting listing” are heavily biased and manipulated by affiliate commission. There’s a reason why people nowadays all push for iPage, SiteGround, BlueHost, Hostgator, and so on as the “Best” web host. Because these are the companies that pay the fattest commission.

Look for lists that rank a web host based on performance data and real user reviews. Usually this means the list consists of both popular and less well-known names. Check site owner’s credibility before trusting their reviews and advice.

If a deal sounds too good to be true – very likely it is.

Here are three best hosting list I found useful – there are data-driven, comes with clear earning disclosures, and their authors are out from the dark (known for their reputation). If you were looking for a web host, start with the brands mentioned in these guide.

Characteristics of a good web host

To say any hosting service is best (or even good), they should perform exceptionally well in following aspects with consistency:

  1. Server performance – How often your host goes down? Is your host loading quick? Does the company provide SLA on server and network uptime? What is the compensation if your server goes down?
  2. Hosting upgrade options – Is there room to grow? Can you upgrade your host easily?
  3. Numbers of addon domain – How many domains and websites can you host in one account? Domain names are so cheap these days – you WILL own more than one website.
  4. Costs – Simple question, can you afford the host?
  5. Email hosting – Can you host your own email?
  6. Site backup – How often is your account backup? Can you restore your backup by yourself easily? Does your host charge restoration fee?
  7. After-sales service – Can you get help easily?

Again – when you are choosing a hosting solution, bear in mind that what you want is to select the one that suits you the best. It’s not about finding the best web host in the world, it’s finding the best web host for your website and business.

Hosting Operating System (OS): Unix & Windows

Operation system, or normally known as OS, is a platform for your computer to work. An OS has to be installed on your computer before any other software. The operating system is so important that it takes care of almost all the basic operation on your computer: from shutting down the PC to handling the memory to coordination among hardware.

Now in case you not know, not just that your personal computer needs an OS.

Your hosting server needs one too! (surprise? duh…) In the world of web hosting OS, there’re two major players, namely Unix and Windows.

Unix (Linux & FreeBSD) Hosting

While there are more than 80% of the PCs runs on Windows; there aren’t so much running on servers.

Instead, web hosting server are normally runs on Unix base.

Note that Unix is not a single operating system. It offers many modern variants also referred to as flavors, types, distributions, or implementations, which branch from its origins in early 1970s mainframe computing.

Reason Unix-based OS is so popular is because that the OS is an open source operating system – thus free to use.

The 2 most popular variations are Linux and FreeBSD.

Windows Hosting

On top of personal computer OS Windows 10, 8, Vista, XP, etc; Microsoft do have their own operating system designed specifically for servers.

One of the well-known server OS from Microsoft is Windows Server 2003, and in case you’re familiar with Windows, you should be aware that Windows Sever 2008 is already in the market.

Unix > Windows?

Unix is developed in the Universities for the purpose of research and has been focusing more on networking and speed. Windows is a commercial product developed and targeted to the home users. Unix is built to be more powerful, secure and fast while Windows is built to be more user friendly and easy to use.

Most webmasters and developers lean over Unix systems as they are  generally better, in term of stability and security, Windows OS.

(* I didn’t find hard proof on this claim though).

After so many years of development, Unix has been evolved into a very stable, secure and powerful platform for the servers. On the other hand, Windows (Microsoft Corporation) is still consider to be a new comer to the server market.

What you need to know: Unix or Windows?

You should always go for a Unix web host unless you have some specific requirements that require Windows platform.

Not only Unix is more powerful and secure in networking but it is also cheaper because Unix is *FREE*! If a web host setup their servers to run Windows 2003, he will need to purchase the license from Microsoft and this will increase the hosting price.

You will need a Windows host if you want to use some Windows-only features. The most common are ASP, ASP.NET, ColdFusion, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, etc. If you have never heard of any of these application, you most probably won’t need a Windows host.

Cut it short, ASP.NET and ColdFusion are scripting language. Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access are databases.

 

List of Free / Discounted Hosting Deals for Students

Dear students –

I just bumped into this Quora thread  and am sick with the amount of spam flooded there.

Chances are you need a web host to host your course work cheap (or better, for free). And you only need a small space and bandwidth for the project.

If this is your case, it’s better to stick with a student hosting plan – where plans are cheap (or free) and hosting capacity are small.

To help, I am curating a small list of hosting services that offer free or discount plans for students here.

I do not use affiliate links nor accept advertisement on this blog. Feel free to use (and share with your friends) this list at your own risks.

List of Student Hosting

What to expect in student hosting plans?

Usually a small shared hosting plan is offered.

Shared hosting is the most popular webs hosting service over the internet because of its economic budget and newbie-friendly features.

Shared hosting is the perfect solution for individual and small scale websites – like a student project 🙂

Cost efficiency  The best benefit associated with shared mode of web hosting is the budget price. As the specific server hosts several websites over the internet, thus the cost is distributed over each of the website leading to much cheaper rates which you cannot find on other hosting service packages. Normally, the annual cost lies with shared hosting ranges in between $50 to $100. And you don’t have to compromise with the web space and speed as you will get great web space of around 5 – 50 GB.

Feasibility and operational ease As the servers under shared hosting are associated with dozens or hundreds of websites, so any users do not have to worry much about maintaining the server. The hosting company IT experts will look after the server performance and security.

Utility Management Tool  Irrespective of the number of websites shared over a single server, web-hosting companies provide the administrative utility panel to each of the website separately (usually cPanel or Plesk). Through this admin utility control page, a user can do the modification and customization of the web pages. Also one can issue the subdomains and can create site emails as like the normal web hosting features.

Limitations associated with Shared Hosting

Though shared web hosting technique is money valued and featured hosting package but still there are few drawbacks that comes with the service. Some of such drawbacks are listed as under:

  • The main drawback is related with the safety issues. A shared web hosting service offers less security as many websites share the common server.
  • The shared hosting holds good for small websites but its performance highly degraded with bulk weighted websites
  • Less robustness is also a limitation which one has to deal with shared hosting.
  • No dedicated IP address

 

FatCow Review by Peter Benson

This informative FatCow (site: https://www.fatcow.com/) review was published 7 years ago. I received this review from a user named Peter Benson. FatCow’s price has not changed much today and the review is still somewhat useful today.

If you are considering FatCow Hosting, you should check it out.

User Feedback on FatCow

I think you have FatCow rated too high

I tried FatCow for webhosting a local political campaign site based on good reviews like these. The price was decent – $44 for a year.

The campaign was successful, and I took the site down afterward. Unfortunately, I did not cancel the account, and it autorenewed at _$107_ for a year. When I went to cancel it, they told me there would be a $35 cancellation fee. When I said I didn’t remember seeing that when I signed up, they said it’s in “Terms and Conditions” – buried with a ton of legalese. Their “cancellation fee” is almost as much as the first year of web hosting. For what it’s worth, I had _much_ better luck getting a refund for unused time from JustHost.

Anyway, fool me once and all that. I told them I thought their policy was misleading and abusive, and I won’t be back.

(PS- They also take _forever_ to answer their phone – it took three tries to get this cancelled since one time I had to leave after ~20 minutes on hold and the other time I was cut off after a similar wait time.)

Anyway, I think you have them rated too high, and I think you ought to let people know about their loss-leader, bait-and-switch pricing and high cancellation fee.

– Peter Benson / Minnesota @ September 4th, 2011

Other helpful FatCow review you should read:

Alternatives to FatCow

The best thing about FatCow is price. If FatCow is not for you, some other budget hosting providers you can look into include: BlueHost (same owner with FatCow), FastComet, and Hostinger.

On-Page SEO Factors

Once upon a time, search engine optimization (SEO) seemed pretty straightforward. The formula stayed the same article after article. Choose a keyword people were looking for that was even slightly related to your site or article. Use that keyword over and over a set amount of times, use it in a heading or two, add a bit of code, some meta data and wave a magic wand. Your site would rank great in Google.

Then, a new animal arrived on the scene in 2011.

Google Panda

Pandas are supposed to be cute and cuddly right? Not always.

It would behoove website owners to remember that pandas have claws and so did Google Panda. Many content farms saw their traffic drop by the millions during the early implementation of Panda and some innocent bystanders got caught in the resulting tsunami.

While the positives and negatives of the changes can be argued (less poor content, better content for site visitors), it won’t change the fact that SEO as we knew it is gone forever.

As website owners, we can adapt or be scratched to death, and Panda wasn’t the only change Google has made or will make. In fact, Google reserves the right to continuously change their algorithm and you can be almost certain they will do so to keep advertisers happy as advertising is where the revenue comes from.

Optimizing for better site rankings

Your website’s search rankings depend on both on-page and off-page factors. In this article, we will look into some on-page factors you should take care of.

1- The quality of your content

If you run a site for more than 5 years, it’s perhaps time to do a content audit.

Have a look on your website and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who wrote the content?
  • Is the content helpful to your targeted audience?
  • Is the content up to date?
  • Is the content gramartical correct?
  • Is the content meeting your targeted keyword searchers’ intention?
  • Is your content properly structured?

Content is one of the most important on-page SEO factors. Your content needs to be written by someone who is familiar with your users’ needs and who knows a lot about your company and your field of business. Also, it needs to be well structured into easy-to-read paragraphs with titles, subtitles, and bulleted lists, and it needs make use of bold letters where appropriate.

2- The amount and optimization of visual material

Customers should trust your knowledge about business, so websites are the best place for you to show what you can do and what is their benefit for trusting and allowing you to run your business with them. Use your website to showcase everything you have. Images, video, animations, it all comes in handy.

What you need to do is pay attention to whether your images are optimized with an alt tag, and make sure you are not using flash excessively. Both of these help search engines find their way round your website and pick up all the signals it is sending, which makes search engines happy and ready to improve your rankings.

3- The structure of the URLs and website structure

What is of paramount importance here is that you have a clear website structure and that all of your URLs are static, taking the form examplex.com/my-post/ or examplex.com/my-category/my-post.

As for the website structure, you need to have a clear way of connecting different part of the website into a whole. For example, if you own a blog, the best way to organize it would be into different thematically based categories, which would be interrelated every time you link an old related post to a new one across categories.

Basic HTML for Bloggers

Ten years ago, you had to know some web coding to protect yourself, but now there are so many editors and plugins available that even knowing the basics of HTML is no longer required to run a successful blog.

 

The problem with this is that if you don’t know a few basics, you can easily get into real trouble in your blog and have to hire a pricey developer to fix what may be a minor problem. Not only that, but creating  changes to your blog such as adding a custom text widget requires a little knowledge.

And if you are experiencing content layout doesn’t look right, HTML knowledge can get you back on track.

Here are some very basic HTML pointers for bloggers.

Word of Warning Before Writing HTML

I want you to get comfortable using these tags, but you should always remember that if you leave out a portion of the tag, you can cause serious problems.

Each tag has an end and a beginning, and leaving one of those out tells the computer that the tag is still open… and all the following code will be included in that tag.

In addition, please type it out. If you copy and paste what I’ve written, you may get problems when the site interprets your code.

Links: The <a> tag

One of the most important things to know is how to make links. The latest update of WordPress  is experiencing some issues with some “no follow” plugins, so while you are waiting for a compliant plugin, you’ll need to know how to set up a nofollow link for your sponsored and product review posts.

The tag looks like this:

<a href="http://www.websiteyouarelinking.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Website Name</a>

In the “a” is the tag, “href” tells the browser where to take the visitor once she clicks the link. The target “_blank” tells the browser to open that link in a new tab – very important so that visitors don’t leave your website completely. Next, we have the all-important “nofollow” link that you need to ensure you don’t get penalized by Google for compensated posts. (If you are writing a post that is not compensated, you can leave out ‘rel=”nofollow”’ to give the link a boost on Google.) Next comes the title – make it accurate and SEO-friendly. Finally, “</a>” closes this tag.

Images: The <img> Tag

Sometimes you’ll want to create text widgets that includs images or linked images.

This is the code –

Pulling in a single image:

<img alt="Gluten Free Brownies" src="http://mom-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014016_brownies.jpg" width="490" height="293" />

Notice that this is a SINGLE tag, but it ends with “ />” to close the  tag. In this tag, you’ll see “alt” tag. This is what you fill out after you load your image and is necessary for visitors who are visually impaired. (Make sure you use it to denote what the photo is, and not what you want your SEO to be.) “Src” is the link to where your image is actually located. “Width” and “height” are just that – the size of your image in pixels. This is optional, and should match your actual image size, or else the image will appear warped.

Here’s how to set up an image with a link:

<a href="http://www.websiteyouarelinking.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Gluten Free Brownies" src="http://mom-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014016_brownies.jpg" width="490" height="293" /></a>

As you can see, you simply replace the text from our <a> tag example (“Website Name”) with an image link and viola!

The Paragraph Tag: <p></p>

Obviously, this tag puts your text or image in it’s own paragraph with spacing above the opening <p> and after the closing </p>.

Usually, your theme’s blog or will have it styled so that there is a certain amount of space above or below it. You can easily adjust that by with a bit of style right in the tag.

This is how it’s done:

<p style="width:200px; padding-right:5px; text-align:center;">Welcome to my blog!</p>

That style tag allows all kinds of sizes and options, but here are these basic ones.

  • “Width” is the actual width of that paragraph. This had created a 200 pixel width paragraph. Make sure you width is NOT bigger than your column or  just leave width out to spread  text to the size of the column.
  • “Padding” literally puts space around your paragraph. You can add 5 pixels of space just to the right, for example, like it’s done here, if you feel your paragraph is too close to the edge on the right side. You can do the same for padding-left, padding-top and padding-bottom. You also have the options of “padding:5px” to put 5 pixels around each and every side.
  • “Text-align” justifies your text within the paragraph. Options are center, left, right and justify which spreads the text out to be even on both sides.

Finally, you can use a paragraph with images and links as well but make sure your images’ width fits in your column too. Note that padding is added to that width:

<p style="padding-right:5px; text-align:center;"><a href="http://www.websiteyouarelinking.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><img alt="Gluten Free Brownies" src="http://mom-blog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014016_brownies.jpg" width="490" height="293" /></a><p>

The Link Break Tag: <br />

This tag  gives you a one line return without a paragraph. It can be used inside a paragraph if you want a series of lines where you single line breaks that you select yourself (so that you can even out the lines) and still have a paragraph around it, like so:

<p style="width:200px; padding-right:5px; text-align:center;">Welcome to my blog!<br />Come in and make yourself at home.</p>

Styles

Now that I’ve already showed you some styles, I’m going to quickly list a few more that are useful for creating those text widgets:

  • BOLD: Place bolded text inside these tags: <strong>Text goes here</strong>
  • ITALICS: Place italicized text inside these tags: <em>Text goes here</em>
  • BOLD+ITALICS: Place text inside:<strong><em>Text goes here</em></strong>

Heading Tags

For SEO purposes, you may want to use critical tags with your site’s main keywords in text widgets (on your sidebar, footer, etc.) These are heading tags and Google gives more weight to them. For example, your blog’s theme will usually have titles and site name within these tags.

These tags are:

  • <h1>Text goes here</h1>
  • <h2>Text goes here</h2>
  • <h3>Text goes here</h3>
  • <h4>Text goes here</h4>
  • <h5>Text goes here</h5>
  • <h6>Text goes here</h6>

hese tags are in size order, with <h1> being the largest. Google gives the most weight to text in <h1>, next weight to <h2> and so on.

Often, <h1> tags are quite large and may have a color. To eliminate that, you can enter something this:

<h1 style=”color: #000; font-size: 12px; font-weight:normal;”>Your new title here.</h1>

That will give you black text (color: #000;) in a 12 pixel font (font-size: 12px;) and remove bold (font-weight:normal;). If this does not work, your site may have been coded in a more complex manner and you may simply want to select a smaller heading tag.

Bullets

Bulleted or numbered lists are a great way to show content to your audience. But you might find “weird” or inconsistent spacing when you edit them. This is what they should  look like in your text editor:

<ul>
   <li>Item 1</li>
 <li>Item 2</li>
 <li>Item 3</li>
 </ul>

<ul> means “unordered list” – this will give you bullets. (If you want to use a numbered list, simply change all the “ul” tags to “ol.”) <li> means list item. There are times you’ll hit a return and it will create another <ul> within your list or close your list and start a new  one in the middle. It should look like some variation of the above, so if you see extra “<ul>” opening and closing tags, you can delete them.

Try Writing Your Own

This will help you get started, but please make sure that you back up your site fully first (including theme) so you can restore.

If you get into trouble with a widget, you can just remove it to figure out where you wrote the wrong code.

Finally, feel free to type as normal in your visual editor and compare what you see in the text editor to get a feel for these basics.

More Resources:

Magento Ecommerce: Market Segments & Best Practice Websites

Magento usage trends can be categorised in numerous market segments.

From these it is most commonly found in shopping, business and vehicle ecommerce websites. To properly migrate and integrate Magento as an ecommerce platform of choice, businesses in these sectors are typically employing a web hosting provider to deliver an entire online experience. Doing so provides consistent hardware, software and networking capabilities for ecommerce to run smoothly, with minimal downtime and optimum performance.

Magento Homepage

An online business lives or dies by the quality of its digital presence through brand reputation, product and service delivery. Without a reputable ecommerce platform and hosting provision there is little chance of achieving sustainable growth and online revenues.

Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of Magento in action…

Dynamic Usability

Many thousands of hosted sites (Breville, Nike, and Pental to name but three) use Magento ecommerce to power rich multimedia engagement. Magento has a complex yet powerful database structure that essentially delivers optimum performance levels for websites to run high quality graphical user interfaces without losing speed and efficiency.

This helps establish and maintain brand reputation at every phase of website navigation and transaction processing. Usability and speed of service are further enhanced through superior site design and customisation.

Powerful Database Structure

Other Magento platforms, (Paul Smith, Stussy, Toms and more) harness the powerful database architecture to store and query high volume/high quality collections of products. Seamlessly integrating the shopping experience with real-time response times is critical, enabling you to establish user confidence, support staff and generate leads.

Delivering an ecommerce experience that customers expect from such reputable names is a minimum requirement, but it should never be taken for granted. With Magento, the powerful mix of faster querying and transaction processing maximises ROI from an online shopfront.

Localised Service Delivery

Physical stores today are struggling to keep the lights on, as such more and more are turning to ecommerce as a way to reach customers. It is those that have simple and clean ecommerce options for localised services and stockists that create the most value for both global and local customer bases.

Take for example Goodyear, Interflora and TimeOut.

All three, offer vastly different products, yet are savvy to localised online demands. Providing prompt service, effective marketing and sign-up services that keep customers engaged with their brand within the community.

Creating a pleasurable, no fuss, no frills online experience for customers is the first step towards ecommerce nirvana. Whether visiting the Goodyear site to enquire about new tyres, using Interflora to order a bouquet of flowers, or looking at an online subscription to TimeOut magazine, having the capability to target global, regional AND local clientele with vastly different requirements gives a huge edge to your site as a scalable online service.

Summary

These are the types of companies and market segments where Magento ecommerce provides power, speed and agility for the perfect online store. Hitting your niche with local service delivery is crucial to elevating customer awareness and brand loyalty. As is delivering an end user experience that is intuitive and aesthetically pleasing for a potentially global audience.

Ecommerce platforms built with Magento are resilient and compliant, but above all are the perfect platform upon which any size and scale of business, SMB to global enterprise, can create the perfect online shopfront.

Latest Trends in the Cloud

1. Improve Security in the Cloud

From Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader to Apple’s integrated cloud allowing extensive Mac device communication, even the most casual user is aware of the power of the cloud. Small and medium sized businesses are slowly adopting cloud hosting in even the most staid markets. Major enterprise cloud solutions have been in development for years and are being deployed at a high rate.

But the security aspects of the cloud are still being worked on.

Many suggest that hackers are focused on big potential breaches in cloud security. Therefore, it’s increasingly important for hosting companies offering cloud products to anticipate weaknesses in cloud security and address those aggressively.

Customers are also becoming savvier with respect to potential security issues connected with the cloud. As a result, hosting companies are developing stronger communications around this issue in the form of copy, collateral, and training for their sales teams. The need to fight malware and abuse is a major theme affecting all kinds of hosting companies, not just the cloud hosts. Continuing investments and upgrades in this area remains a major theme for hosting companies.

2. Increased Differentiation Among Cloud Providers

The last few years have seen hosts focused in on providing infrastructure needed to support cloud hosting* and rolling out basic services.

In the coming year, prices are likely to increase as providers layer differentiation and additional services on top of existing hosting plans. An important trend is the degree to which individual providers are able to do so in an automated way that minimizes the need for human intervention. The more automated this process is, the higher margins will be on individual accounts. As a consumer, it’s helpful to understand how efficient your potential host’s processes are in this respect – it will save you tremendous amounts of aggravation when an issue does occur.

In addition, cloud providers seeking differentiation will need to find other avenues for communicating their advantages to customers.  Quality customer service is important, but it’s not enough. Instead, cloud hosting providers need to find real points of differentiation and market those effectively. 2012 so far has proved a big year for marketing spending in the hosting industry, and this is likely to continue as hosting companies work to educate the public. Differentiation is especially key as cloud hosting companies compete against Amazon, which has to a certain degree commoditized cloud services.

3. Increased Reseller Activity And Partnerships

As more big players like Amazon and others move in to the hosting field, it’s growing increasingly important for smaller players to have strong partnerships. Affiliate and reseller relationships are becoming a mainstay of how these businesses profit, as a number of small to medium sized hosting companies become bundlers for the specific services packages needed by small business users and online companies.

Competitive pricing, niche specific approaches, and stellar service will all play a key role in how this growing class of middlemen continues to evolve. Some speculate about whether hosting companies will actually phase out their own infrastructure altogether in favor of acting as straight resellers with lower infrastructure costs and therefore higher margins for Amazon and other larger players.