Research conducted by international web hosting service provider Rackspace Managed Hosting has revealed 11 common failings that companies making use of web hosting services find “annoying” to the point where they seriously consider a change of service provider. 

Rackspace spokesman for the South African market, Geoff Dowell, says unhappy companies list the following failings as rating high on the “irritation scale”:
* Network unreliability;
* Lack of support at night and weekends;
* Slow response to queries;
* Slow response to problem solving;
* Lack of service level agreements to guarantee the quality of hosting;
* Hourly charges for support;
* Inability to deal with complex configurations;
* Lack of Microsoft/Linux knowledge;
* Prices disproportionately high to the level of service;
* Lack of financial stability; and
* Inadequate levels of security.
“It is therefore not surprising that user companies are questioning what the hosting market is offering and are focusing on the need for expertise, cost-efficiency, reliability and service level agreements that are meaningful from the client viewpoint and actually bind service providers to high levels of delivery,” says Dowell.
Among the major arguments in favour of the managed hosting approach are flexibility, taking responsibility, cost-efficiency and removing burdens from the client’s shoulders.
“Customers would rather not pay for dedicated lines, routers, servers, chassis, firewalls, load balancers and software up front. A serious managed hosting solution provider should be able to remove that financial burden and take on the responsibility of owning equipment that will depreciate so that the customer doesn’t have to,” says Dowell.
“The company should also be able to upgrade on the fly without incurring the significant capital outlays associated with a co-located or in-house solution.”
Two other critical factors for customers regarding managed hosting solutions are:
* Complete management of the solution without downtime or the cost of holding spares and employing technicians; and
* Removal of the need to co-locate or host in-house, which requires re-creation of network infrastructure and is a very expensive option which, when all is said and done, remains a risky single point of failure set-up in which business will be lost if the connection goes down.
“The option for companies who co-locate is usually T1 or T3 at a high monthly cost on top of the hardware and maintenance costs. However, perhaps more important than the cost, is that this is a single point of failure. If this connection was to go down then business will be lost, no question” says Dowell.
“By tying up funds in hardware, re-creating the network, taking on hardware depreciation and failure, as well as hiring staff to man it all, companies commit significant resources into just one area of their business. This adds up to high risk and cost.”
Dowell concludes that the route for companies go is to make a small investment in time and effort to assess the managed hosting market and find a service provider that has the capital clout, the technology, the expertise and – most important of all – the service philosophy, attitude and infrastructure, to ensure customer satisfaction.