13 Aug

Evolution of website hosting

Much like the human race, the world of web hosting has evolved into more advanced forms over the years. The difference is that while humans evolved through millions of years, web hosting technology has rapidly transformed over a period of just a few years. In fact, if the web developers a decade ago could catch a glimpse into the future of today, their jaws would likely would drop and their minds would marvel at how web hosting technology has advanced significantly.

Ready to jump back through time to see how things have changed in the world of web hosting? Here is the evolution of web hosting:


The earliest method of hosting web pages involved saving files in a workstation securely hidden under a computer desk or inside room cabinets. This primitive – and very unsafe – web hosting technology was exposed to the greatest risk of all: accidentally unplugging the power supply. Once power supply was lost, websites hosted on a workstation would be on shutdown status. That is why a person was assigned to ogle the machine at all times to ensure that it did not get disconnected for any reason whatsoever.

Data Center and Physical Servers

This upgraded version of workstations was more secure because the servers were situated in a special place in the room away from possible accidental power cut-off. Physical servers in a data center offer better web hosting capabilities with its redundant power and hardware. Maintenance of these physical servers is conducted by a team of experts in server technology.

However, the installation of a data center with many servers requires a physical space, which is disadvantageous in terms of capital expenditure and space constraints. The physical server system is also difficult to relocate, should the need arise.

Data Center and Virtual Servers

The solution for space limitations and prohibitive capital costs came with virtual servers, which separated the physical hardware and the operating system (OS) running in the servers. The physical equipment was significantly downsized because the servers were running on a common OS. Virtualization made web hosting more efficient both systematically and financially.

Despite the improvements in the use of physical space, data centers with virtual servers were still situated in physical locations. As the virtual servers grew, the localized nature of these virtual data centers lead to limitations as well.

Cloud Computing

Named after the ethereal, gaseous, and fluffy matter floating in the skies, cloud computing changed the way web developers think of hosting. If you want to save webpages in cloud servers, you don’t need to purchase physical equipment. Instead, a virtual hosting interface will be provided by big-name companies, which house powerful and redundant servers on your behalf.

As of this writing, cloud computing has become the industry standard in terms of web hosting. These systems have practically endless hosting capabilities (depending on the hosting plan acquired by the customer), sustainable APIs, and useful back-end applications for advanced developers. Web hosting over the cloud also affords the user with scalable web solutions, wiser expenditure (the user will only be charged for the memory usage), and airtight web security.

Some of the famous companies that offer cloud servers include: Amazon, Microsoft, and Rackspace.

Exciting times are ahead, especially since cloud computing is still being developed and morphed into hybrid applications. Only time will tell when every website is hosted on the cloud, or when a new technology trumps the already-advanced cloud technology.

[Photo courtesy of Torkild Retvedt on Flickr]
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16 Jul

Common website hosting terminology, Part 1

Web development involves a lot of terminology that might throw off business owners. While company executives and store handlers may not see the importance of learning the definitions of all the terms used in e-commerce hosting, knowing the basics will prove helpful in the long run.

For one, if the website exhibits any errors, the business owner who is familiar with hosting jargon may be able to understand the error and forward it properly to tech support. It also makes troubleshooting easier for the site developer if the company executive can describe what the displayed error is, and not just a generic statement like “something is wrong with my website.”

Over the next few blog posts, we will look at some of the most common web development terms.

Here is a list of terms that are commonly encountered by e-commerce website developers, as well as site visitors who may come across an access error in one of your website pages.

This week, we’ll cover terms from B – E.

Bandwidth is the rate of data transfer that a particular connection handles. This is usually expressed in bits per second (bit/s), although most rates are commonly measured in higher multiples such as kilobits per second (kbit/s) or megabits per second (Mbit/s).

Bot, or Internet bot, is any application that can run automated processes through the Internet. Some call it web robot or WWW robot but the function is the same: to automatically complete online tasks. The largest and most efficient use of bots is in web crawling, wherein the search bots browse through data from web servers.

Caching Proxy, also called proxy server, functions as an intermediate server between clients and servers. These servers create a more secure facilitation of web data because the server cannot determine which client is asking for information.

Client, while also used to denote a customer of the online store, is defined in computing terms as any application that sends or retrieves data from a remote server through a connection. Some examples of clients include web browsers and web applications.

Custom Error Messages are displayed when a browser encounters an error during the access of information over the Internet. The website owner may customize the message that appears in the error prompt.

Datacenter or Network Operation Center is a network environment that plays host to computer systems and related components in a secure and completely manageable structure. Datacenters can handle thousands of web servers, and are equipped with redundant power supplies to ensure uninterrupted service.

Data Transfer is defined as a physical distribution of data from one point to another using communication channels. The latest technology allows data transfer not only across wires and cables, but even through wireless means.

Disk Space, sometimes called Storage Space, denotes the amount of computer memory where files can be stored. The amount of storage space varies per medium (hard drive, USB flash drive, or floppy disk) and memory capacity. This figure is expressed in bytes, but is more commonly known in terms of megabyte (MB) or kilobyte (kB).

Domain Name is a unique text identifier connected to an Internet resource, such as a website or a media file. This is governed by the Domain Name System (DNS), a structured naming system that assigns the domain name to a particular Internet entity. The basic syntax of a domain name consists of a domain (.com, .net., org) and a set of labels such as the top-level domain or its subdomains.

Domain Name Registration refers to the process of using a domain name for the purpose as deemed necessary by its owner. By registering a domain name in the Domain Name System (DNS), the owner or registrant can use the name to connect it to a hosted webpage for viewing in a browser.

Electronic Commerce (E-Commerce) is the conduct of trading products or services using online applications and media. Customers can visit an e-commerce website to choose their desired products and purchase them through online payment modules. E-commerce involves scripts that process purchase and customer information via digital content.

E-mail Alias/Forwarder is basically an email address that forwards content to a real POP e-mail account. This usually appears as username@mydomain.com, but the account does not have a real username and password to log into. While an e-mail alias forwards content to another address of the same domain name, an e-mail forwarder can send data to addresses at another domain name.

We will continue next week with more common ecommerce terms.

[Photo courtesy of Dave Worley on Flickr]
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