1 Increasing website performance for creative agencies and their clients A study comparing the benefits of buying a server versus outsourcing to a web host to increase website capabilities and cost efficiency. 1
2 Contents Executive summary 3 Powering the business 4-5 Choosing the right platform 6 The case for outsourcing your servers 7 Making the right choice 8-9 Summary Sources of information 12 About us 12 2
3 Executive summary This report compares the cost savings and performance benefits for creative agencies investigating buying their own server, compared with outsourcing the server with a specialist web hosting company. One of the key factors to consider when buying IT hardware is the costs associated with owning a server which go beyond the initial investment. Servers need to be stored, set-up, secured, maintained and updated regularly to ensure optimal performance, factors which are both time consuming and costly. One way of taking care of all of these areas is to hire a specialist technician, however this is yet another on-going cost to account for. Managing clients websites on a server through a web host avoids these costs, with the added benefit of an improved long term hosting solution. The web host will also support the customer with technical assistance should the server suffer adverse performance issues, as well as taking responsibility for the security and safe storage of the hardware. In addition to the financial and customer service benefits, outsourcing a server also enables the agency to get the latest technology from the web host, increasing their clients website performance. 3
4 Powering the business 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site following slow load times Gomez, 2010 (Econsultancy) Creative agencies can suffer the knock-on effect of a client s website underperforming. Research has shown how poor website performance can lead to a loss of revenue, and how consumers are turned off by slow load times in particular. A report by Gomez (a web performance division of Compuware) found that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site following slow load times. Further to that, a study by consumer data platform QuBit in 2012 estimated that slow load times cost UK websites 1.73 billion in lost sales. If these problems are encountered by the client of a creative agency, then they are likely to consider their options and find a better service. The choice of hosting has a direct impact on curtailing these fears, both for the agency and their clients. For creative agencies reaching out to more and more clients, the need for a powerful and reliable solution to increasing performance often leads to considering investing in specialist server technology. There are two options an agency can pursue in this instance: owning and managing their own servers in-house or outsourcing them through a web hosting company. Running your server in-house Slow load times cost UK websites 1.73 billion in lost sales QuBit, 2012 (Econsultancy) The benefits of owning a server are that the hardware is easily accessible, giving the agency the means to make adjustments to it as they see fit. The agency may hire a specialist server administrator to monitor and maintain the hardware, meaning that any issues can be addressed as soon as they are noticed. Also, with buying a server, there are no monthly rental costs beyond the initial purchase. Despite this, there are a myriad of other costs associated with servers. Maintenance costs Maintenance is one such outlay, as the owner needs to make sure that the equipment that they have invested in is constantly operating to its full potential. As we have mentioned before, a specialist server administrator would need to be in control of the server, who would not only command an average salary of up to 60k a year (source: PayScale.com), but would also be expected to work out of office hours in the event of a failure, an eventuality that they would have to be reimbursed for. 4
5 Storage costs The web host absorbs all the costs of maintenance, running, repairing, monitoring, housing, and securing, leaving the customer to concern themselves only with using the product. Storing the server is another consideration for the owner, given that the hardware must be kept in a controlled environment, with temperature and humidity levels affecting server performance. IBM recommends that server rooms are kept at 22 degrees centigrade and at a 45% humidity rate. Not only does this require time and attention to achieve, but also the resources required to maintain the conditions need to be available. Security costs The server also incurs the on-going costs of security measures such as antihacker and anti-spam software to avoid the risks of data theft and, like any piece of hardware, the server will eventually be replaced by more recent and advanced technology, presenting the problem of purchasing add-ons to keep it up to date or even replacing it with a brand new server. Taking the example model of a Dell PowerEdge R410 server, we can see just how expensive owning a server can be: l Price of server: over l Salary of server administrator: up to 60,000. l Total cost: over 62,000. This, of course, does not take into account the amount needed to effectively maintain a server room. The other on-going costs we have identified, such as security and updates, further heighten the cost of owning the server. Cutting the costs Adding a server to a web hosting account however, helps companies achieve their goals at a fraction of this cost. The web host absorbs all the costs of maintenance, running, repairing, monitoring, housing, and securing, leaving the customer to concern themselves only with using the product. What s more, creative agencies can take advantage of the technology by putting their clients websites on the server, increasing their clients overall performance and the agency s reputation for customer service. 5
6 Choosing the right platform A good web host will provide a choice of server platforms to enable an informed decision about which platform will best serve those needs. The choice of server will depend entirely on the needs of the business. A good web host will provide a choice of server platforms to enable an informed decision about which will best serve those needs. There is little point in investing in a super-powered server if the demands of the business do not justify one, whereas underestimating the power needed will also have a negative impact. Considering the specific requirements ensures value for money as well as maximum performance. Shared web hosting Shared hosting users website and data are stored on a server they share with thousands of other customers and the resources are divided between them. Whilst this is an ideal entry-level to mid-level hosting solution, the user s website can be affected by other activity on the server, and it is not designed to host large or mission critical websites. Virtual Private Servers Virtual Private Servers (VPS) offer a server platform which is far more exclusive than shared hosting, meaning that more resources are available to the user at all times. With a much smaller contention rate than that of shared hosting, the resources of VPS have less of a strain placed on them, allowing sites to perform at optimal levels. Hybrid Servers Hybrid Servers are so called because they combine the resources of both VPS and Dedicated Servers. Although this type of hosting shares resources such as CPU, Hybrid Servers are more exclusive than VPS and feature guaranteed resources such as Hard Drive and RAM. Dedicated Servers Dedicated Servers are a 100% exclusive hosting platform. As there is no other activity on the server, the user has complete control over how the resources are used. Dedicated Servers provide top-level hosting for mission critical websites that need to be able to deal with high demands. Dedicated Servers are the most powerful and reliable hosting solution on the market. Shared hosting Entry level solution. VPS Hybrid Servers Dedicated Servers Highly powerful hosting platform. More exclusive than shared hosting. Low contention rates. Performance affected by other users. Scalable to suit individual needs of website. Combines resources of both VPS and Dedicated Servers. Complete exclusivity on the server. 6
7 The case for outsourcing your servers Maintenance Servers are constantly monitored to ensure uptime and therefore save the need for a creative agency to employ a specialist to look after the hardware. Aside from the technology that these platforms offer, web hosting companies take care of all the maintenance issues with dedicated support teams, meaning that servers are constantly monitored to ensure uptime, therefore removing the need for a creative agency to employ a specialist to look after the hardware. For this reason, when choosing a service provider, a company that offers around-the-clock support should be considered as servers are being monitored 24 hours-a-day to ensure optimal performance. The web host also stores the server in specially optimised data-centres, ensuring that the temperature and humidity levels are constantly monitored and controlled so that the server has the right environment to perform at its highest level. This not only has a financial advantage (not having to pay to create the ideal server environment), but also overrides the need to monitor and adjust the environment accordingly. Reputation The cost of making sure the technology is of the highest quality falls on the web host, removing the problem of having to update or replace an outdated server. Whilst many web hosting companies can provide a choice of server options, it s important to select one with a reputation not only for providing great service, but for experience in dealing with creative companies. A web host that understands the typical needs of a web design company, for example, is ideally placed to offer support and guidance to other web design companies as well. Security Keeping the servers secure and up-to-date is also in the interest of the web host as they look to be able to provide stable and risk-free hosting across the board and offer an attractive product to entice new customers. As a result, the cost of making sure the technology is of the highest quality doesn t fall on the user, removing the problem of having to update or replace an outdated server. This should be a major factor in deciding which web host to obtain a server through. A web host with a reputation for security and for providing the latest technology will ultimately be the best value for creative agencies looking to outsource a server. 7
8 Making the right choice We certainly recommend Heart Internet for any size of business. They are extremely professional, helpful and above all, reliable Nixon Design, Heart Internet customer since Choosing the appropriate server depends entirely on the objectives of the business and its website. At Heart Internet our server options have been created to cover a diverse range of business types so that our customers can make their own decision on which suits them best. Latest technology Our VPS are fully customisable, allowing the customer to choose exactly how much RAM, Hard Drive and CPU they need for their site and giving them the freedom to alter this at any point. Our Dedicated Server range has been created to offer a choice of superpowered hosting solutions for businesses with mission critical online objectives. The options available allow creative agencies to choose the server which best suits them, ensuring value for money as well as high levels of performance. Hybrid Servers In addition to the Dedicated Server and VPS platforms, the Hybrid Server option has been developed to offer our customers yet more options when considering a more advanced web hosting package. With a combination of dedicated resources and advanced virtualisation technology, the Hybrid Server takes the best of both platforms to bridge the gap between the two. Our Hybrid Servers feature guaranteed resources such as RAM and Hard Drive space to give customers the stability of a dedicated server but makes use of shared resources such as CPU to keep the cost down. Dedicated support In addition to the choice of server available, the customer will benefit from a 24/7/365 UK support network dedicated to resolving problems as soon as possible. Security and storage are also taken care of as all servers are stored in state-of-the-art UK data centres which are optimised to ensure maximum server performance. Because these costs are all absorbed by the web host, the price of outsourcing a server to Heart Internet is less than a tenth of the cost of owning one. With discounts available for paying annually, this figure can be reduced even further. 8
9 Dedicated support (Cont.) This table shows the other savings that can be made by outsourcing a server to Heart Internet: In-house server Outsourced server Purchase hardware Over 2,000 Free set-up Salary of server administrator Up to 60,000 0 Create controlled server environment Minimise downtime Monitor and maintain server environment Monitor server performance State-of-the-art-data centres 24/7/365 UK support team Replace outdated hardware Buy new server 0 Yearly rental cost 0 3,959 Annual cost: 62,000 Annual cost: 3,959 Working with web creatives Creative agencies make up a significant sector of our customer base and we continue to support these customers with the resources and products that are deliberately curated for them. Our VPS platform, for example, has fully customisable features giving the user a flexible approach to server management depending on their specific needs at any given time. Voted for by industry professionals alone, Heart Internet is the number one ranked hosting company for web designers on Whichwebdesigncompany.com In addition, we regularly sponsor events such as Ampersand, WebDevConf, New Adventures in Web Design and WordCamp as well as contributing to leading industry publications such as.net magazine. As we strive to offer innovative and market-leading products, our customers get the benefit of advanced server technology, making the need to replace old and outdated hardware unnecessary and saving the initial costs of purchasing high performance servers. 9
10 Summary High powered servers provide a more stable and secure platform for websites, which is vital in maintaining uptime and creating the impression of security and professionalism to customers. For any creative agency, the performance of a client s website can be enhanced with a server platform which speeds up page loading times and minimises downtime as well as providing powerful solutions for essential added services such as , database hosting and app hosting. This increased performance leads to customer satisfaction and, in turn, a positive message about the company s reputation to continually provide an excellent product. Whilst powerful servers are the way to do this, there are financial barriers to owning a server, including the initial purchase of the hardware, maintenance, storage, security, and the eventuality that the server becomes outdated and the need for replacement technology arises. In order to effectively maintain the server, the need to hire a specialist technician arises, pushing the cost even higher given that the average salary of a server administrator is up to 60,000 a year. Add to this the initial purchasing of the hardware and the costs of running an effective server room, and the prices continue to rise. Outsourcing Obtaining a server through a web host means that these costs are dramatically reduced. The responsibility to maintain and keep the equipment up to date falls on the web host, ensuring that the customer benefits from powerful hosting technology at a fraction of the cost of owning a server themselves. What s more, the web hosting company has specialist employees to deal with managing server performance, meaning that there is no need to hire technicians to ensure the server is working as it should be. 10
11 Heart Internet servers All the features of our server products have been designed to take the strain away from maintaining and running a server and help the customer focus on using the product to do what they do best. Our server hosting platforms are monitored around-the-clock by our 24/7/365 UK support team, ensuring that performance is constantly monitored and problems are spotted instantly. We also take care of the storage and security of the server, making use of our state-of-the-art UK data centres designed to keep servers running to their full potential at all times. With all these costs included in a server hosting package, the annual cost of obtaining a server through us is less than a tenth of owning one, with prices for the most powerful Dedicated Server at Heart Internet less than 4000 for an entire year. With three server platforms (VPS, Hybrid Servers and Dedicated Servers), businesses of all sizes and demands can be catered for. With a comprehensive range of server technology, the exact package to suit the specific needs of a business can be chosen, ensuring maximum value for money as well as consistently high performance levels. All the features of our server products have been designed to take the strain away from maintaining and running a server and help the customer focus on using the product to do what they do best. 11
12 Sources of information tempandhumiditydesign.html Server/Salary Figures for average salary of a server administrator correct at time of writing. About us Launched in 2004, Heart Internet has grown rapidly to become one of the UK s leading web hosting and reseller hosting companies. Offering the UK s most advanced reseller hosting package, Heart Internet s core values are based around high-quality products at competitive prices. Heart Internet strive for innovation within the web hosting industry by continuing to develop market leading technology that benefits their customers websites. Heart Internet Ltd 2 Castle Quay Castle Boulevard Nottingham NG7 1FW 12 t:
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