HostingCon 2013: Insights from the Web Hosting Conference

hostingcon 2013 - web hosting uptime

Cloud Hosting and Web Hosting Uptime at HostingCon

Held in the June heat of Austin, TX HostingCon 2013 veered away from the security focus of prior years and focused on new horizons and the fundamentals; namely, the “cloud” and web hosting uptime and performance.  On the one hand, hosting companies were eager to begin to offer new cloud services, or to augment their current cloud offerings to customers. Several hosting company CEO’s spoke of customers asking for cloud services in advance of the hosting company having anything in place. On the other hand, a fundamental of web hosting i.e. “uptime” included both ensuring uptime for customers, as well as the ability to augment uptime in an effort to differentiate from competitors by including additional uptime-related managed services offerings.

In general, as Liam Eagle, Editor of Web Host Industry Review recently noted, “Hosting service providers are in the business of removing complexity from the operations of their customers.” With that in mind, external-based monitoring is part of the complex ecosystem that hosting providers manage on behalf of their customers in several important ways, including:

  • Provide SLAs around Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings: Hosting companies offering IaaS to customers need to provide details on service level agreements (SLAs) associated with using the IaaS. External-based IaaS monitoring ensures web hosting companies and their IaaS customers have a full, unbiased view of network and server performance details associated with using IaaS.
  • Retain Customers as they Shift to the Cloud and IPv6: As customers shift from IPv4 to IPv6 and in-house data centers to cloud / colo solutions, they are taking a risk by making a change. Position your organization as a service leader by smoothing the way for customers to take those risks. By providing cloud monitoring and IPv6-enabled monitoring you’re reassuring your customers that they are making a correct choice, which is a building block in a long-term customer relationship.
  • Use the API to retain current hosting customers – Build Trust: By monitoring your own customer websites and servers from an external perspective you’ll know and  have diagnostics on network problems, webpage problems, and server issues before before your customers know.   Use both the push and pull API of performance data (as well as a CPanel integration) to set-up a real-time uptime monitoring Dashboard in your NOC for your use and provide individual real-time monitoring Report Cards to each customer.
  • Fight the Big Guys, Carve out your Niche! – As market consolidation in the hosting marketplace occurs the large providers are able to replicate (in part) external monitoring services and in turn they are offering basic external monitoring as a managed service in order to to skim customers away from niche and SMB hosting companies. Fight back! Include a more robust monitoring service as part of your offering and extend the monitoring to web application and web page speed test monitoring.
  • Offer web application monitoring and page speed performance monitoring services – Customers are looking for tools to improve their bottom line whether they are selling online via a shopping cart, or ensuring optimal website speed. As a primary trusted service provider in the ecosystem of web services your customers will  typically start looking inside your network for tools that solve problems before they look for outside tools. You have the opportunity to offer them the tools – web application monitoring and webpage speed monitoring – that further your ongoing relationship and add to your bottom line.
  • Validate your “99.9 uptime!” marketing – Unsupported uptime claims by web hosting companies have lost validity. External monitoring with robust filtering adds credibility to uptime claims and  ensures network anomalies and scheduled maintenance of servers etc…are not included in uptime or downtime metrics.
  • Improve your customers’ website performance – Your customer s want fast servers and a fast website. Oftentimes the issue with speed isn’t your server, its their webpage or third-party hosting webpage elements. Give your customer the tools – free worldwide Website Speed Test – that pinpoints webpage elements and third-party hosted elements that are under-performing.


A look ahead to HostingCon 2014 held at the Miami Beach Convention Center

HostingCon 2013 was an eye-opening review of how quickly the hosting marketplace and customer needs can shift. Where the topic of security dominated at HostingCon in previous years, at HostingCon 2013 cloud hosting pushed firmly to the front and in the face of increased competition from consolidating market giants the validation of fundamentals took on new urgency. We expect the movement to the cloud and focus on web hosting fundamentals at HostingCon Austin 2013 to play out fully over the next year in the form of continued growth of monitoring as a competitive differentiator for hosting companies.  Moreover, at HostingCon 2014 Miami we predict there will be a continued emphasis on cloud monitoring, uptime fundamentals, as well as increasing set of managed services involving IPv6 monitoring, API monitoring, web application monitoring and website speed monitoring by forward looking SMB hosting companies making strategic decisions to carve out high-value market niches.

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