For online businesses, choosing the right ISP (Internet Service Provider) is a crucial decision to get right. Your new online business will rely on the servers that your ISP maintains to keep your Internet enterprise open for business. Think of the ISP you choose as the premises for your new online business. As with any service you buy for a business it is important to ensure you receive a high level of service as your ISP is not only a service provider, but also a vital partner in the success of your new online venture.
Choose Your Server
The business ISP you choose will offer you two basic choices of server that will host the website of your online business:
- Shared Server
As its name suggests, your Internet business will share a server with a number of other online businesses. Shared servers are the cheapest option, but if one of the other businesses you are sharing the server with has a technical problem, this could have an adverse affect on your business.
- Dedicated Server
A dedicated server is much more expensive – but prices have continued to fall as online retail has taken off – but they offer you the opportunity to have a server just for your online business. Maintenance and expansion are much more reliable on a dedicated server. If you can afford it, buying a dedicated server for your business is infinitely preferable to a shared server.
Maintenance and Updates
When you are buying ISP services for your new online business, the maintenance of the server you are using is a vital component of the success of your new enterprise. In the world of online business, if your website is down for even a short space of time, this could translate into thousands of pounds of lost income.
Look closely at the maintenance and the service level agreement that the ISP you are thinking of using will offer you. Back up systems are also vital just in case a server fails. Look for a hosting service that is a member of the ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association) as this is the trade body of this industry. If you consequently have any problems with your ISP, you can take this up with the ISPA.
Security and Protection
Hacking and other forms of digital attack are now part of the business landscape. Your business ISP should have adequate protection in place on all its customers’ servers. Check that this is regularly reviewed and updated via your service level agreement. Don’t forget the physical security of your server. Servers have become lucrative commodities over the last few years. Does your business ISP have high levels of physical security at its premises to protect your sever from theft?
Bandwidth and Connections
The amount of bandwidth (the amount of data that can be sent over the Internet at any one time) that your ISP buys from their supplier will have an impact on the speed with which your business website will operate. Your ISP’s servers are connected to the Internet via what is called the backbone. These connections come in various sizes. The backbone connections are referred to as T1 and T3. Ideally, your ISP will have a T3 connection to the Internet as this is the fastest.
Buying Server Space
If you decide to buy dedicated server space ensure you buy enough. Servers come in a wide-range of sizes. The rule not surprisingly is that the larger the server (that is the more storage space it has) the most expensive it is. You will have to look closely at the amount of data that your online business will have to store to ensure your website operates efficiently.
E-commerce and Servers
As your online business will be e-commerce enabled, you need to ensure that your business ISP’s servers are set-up so you can use trolley and checkout systems on your website. Your website designers will liaise with your ISP to ensure the e-commerce systems they put in place can be hosted reliably on their servers. It is important to check this technical aspect of your server as you don’t want to cause any problems to your customers when they want to make a payment.
Business ISP’s also often offer a number of additional services. These can include multiple domain name registration when you need this service. They may also offer multiple email addresses linked to your domain name. Also traffic through your server should also be tracked. Tracking involves logging each visit to your website. This information is invaluable as it enables you to see how customers are using your Internet business, which can help you improve your online enterprise and increase profits.