There’s no denying that Internet web hosting has undergone significant changes over the years. It’s not surprising, really, when you consider the massive changes in technology that have directly influenced computing and web design. In the infant days of the Internet, people were content with just being on the web, everything else was a la carte. How things have changed. From single-man server rooms and virtual hubs to cloud hosting, web hosting has expanded both technologically and physically to offer virtually unlimited capabilities for today’s static and mobile user.
Rise of the Server Room
Hosting services used to be managed at a desk by a sole IT professional. Upfront costs were low and it worked okay. Trouble was when a tidal wave of visitors suddenly flowed into a website, network demand rose like a tsunami and an IT pro had to be called in to control the flood. These e-disasters led to putting web servers and hosting equipment in the safety of a dedicated server room, which also made physical upgrades easier. Data centers were more spread out and fail-safe measures were added to handle sudden traffic surges. Dedicated server rooms allowed for hardware redundancy, alternate routing systems, more energy sources, and air conditioning units to reduce the heat generated by more powerful servers. Along with these came physical security measures to keep out unauthorized ‘players.’ Dedicated teams were assigned to monitor, override, update, and repair bugs or glitches. All this came at a price—a major investment in manpower, physical space, and materials.
Enter the Virtual Hub
CIOs eventually had to shift gears and take a serious look at where ‘the server’ was headed. Tech breakthroughs in web hosting rose several orders of magnitude when the physical constraints of server rooms finally gave way to virtual thinking. This was borne out of a need to beef up the security of critical data while users were allowed data access in locations where security could not be controlled. This had never been a problem in the days of dial-up Internet. But the rise of e-commerce and mobile devices gave users increasing access regardless of their physical location. This created a demand for a more free-ranged, secure hub and the Virtual Private Networks (VPN) was born. As VPNs continued to evolve, they become more organized, increasingly flexible, adding more capabilities, further enhancing a repertoire of services.
The Cloud with a Silver Lining
Finally, there was cloud hosting. Here, even newbie users enjoy easy access to e-networks. Cloud hosting services like Dropbox, Gmail, and WordPress, which today offer a smorgasbord of many diverse hosting options, gave users virtually unlimited access and choices. While similar to VPNs, cloud hosts present users with far more resources than a single or physical hub. Cloud hosting has the ability to match the needs and efficiencies of a broad spectrum of users. SMEs (small-to-medium enterprises) were finally able to offer the scaled-up benefits of virtual hosting—enhanced network capabilities and financial flexibility—to users. Some virtual service providers expanded the topography of their offerings with new technologies, creating more opportunities for business.