One of the most basic and essential components of a tech startup is a website. Many people though, underestimate the importance of, and the time required to manage the essential heart of the website – the server.
Here are some basics you must understand in order to appreciate why you never want to manage a server by yourself.
Things can go wrong
As with any technology, a server can experience technical difficulties. These might be related to the network itself, and could be either wire- or equipment-related. Still in the realm of equipment, there could also be issues with the hard drive.
Finally, there is the very life force of the server – the power supply. Power supply can impact the very computer your website is run off of, it could impact the data centre where your computer lives, or in extreme cases, it could even temporarily impact the geographic area in which your server is located.
Although companies who provide hosting services understand the critical role they play, do or at least should have backup generators for such emergencies, sometimes they are not powerful enough to carry the whole load or not equipped to handle longer-term outages.
Not the best use of time
Managing a server takes time – time to install and manage weekly updates, and time to check regularly that things are performing as they should be. Understanding that your value, and the value of your team, is in serving your customer and growing your product, this ongoing task serves neither you nor your customer.
Ideally, the only role you have with respect to your server is deploying new versions. Everything else should be in the hands of someone else.
There is technical skill required
A startup trying to save money at the outset may think that buying their own server to host their site is a less costly move than paying an ongoing monthly or annual hosting fee. This is not true. Setting up and managing a server takes time, as noted above, but it also takes technical skills which you will have to pay for. By the time you factor in the cost of the initial outlay of equipment, the cost of an engineer to set up the site, and then add in the cost of paying that engineer again to perform updates, you will have spent more than what was required, both in time and money.
Even if your developer has a technical background, remember it is better to have their attention and time directed where it is most relevant and cost effective – developing your product.
In seeking a Web hosting provider, you want to secure a service that is large enough that it is not single computers running individual sites, but rather a large computer running many virtual servers.
A cloud provider is also preferred over a classic provider because production should always be automated, and this is a function available through the cloud.
I would recommend you to read a previous blog post I wrote about infrastructure for a booming startup to better understand what your growing company may need and why it is best to get the right provider from the beginning. You might also want to to check out the course on how to select a provider.
Understand that the server is the heart and life force of your tech startup and that you should choose well from the very beginning.