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  1. #1
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    Web Hosting is a commodity business

    I have been a member of this board for quite some time but I decided to look in just a few days ago.

    It seems that I have stumbled into a group stuck in the 1990's, stopped just one step beyond the time when web sites were hosted on the pc in daddy's den or mommy's bedroom and BBS's were the normal communication mode. You have moved the pc from the den and bedroom (maybe) to a data center and you have cell phones and facebook but not much else has changed.

    Technology has passed this group by. There is an entire world of customers out here that are looking for something that that you have not got a clue about. I see scrambling and I hear "But, but... we moved out of the den, we are big boys, aren't we?"

    Internet based storage and bandwidth are certainly commodity items but I see a number of things done by most here that can only be classified by using old sayings "Lipstick on a pig" or "Trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear"

    For example, can you tell me what good a "support team" is for this product? It seems to me like providing a valet at a self service car wash or a group of movers at a self storage location.

  2. #2
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    Can you be more specific, are you talking about poor customer service, poor service in general or both?
    Visit GoFGG.com (FernGullyGraphics) for useful information about web hosting and development.

    FernGullyGraphics --- 426 14th St. Suite #115 --- Modesto, California --- 95354

  3. #3
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    Hmmm... too wordy, sorry bout that.

    I am trying to sort out what the "service" is that is being provided by providers that are members here.

  4. #4
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    Ah I see, well I think the services really range from basic shared web hosting, to more complex VPS, Dedicated systems (all on different platforms). As far as the companies you will find on here, they range from the very experienced, to the inexperienced, trying to pass off as experienced..a.k.a kiddie hosts), so definitely proceed with caution. Are you looking for anything in particular?
    Visit GoFGG.com (FernGullyGraphics) for useful information about web hosting and development.

    FernGullyGraphics --- 426 14th St. Suite #115 --- Modesto, California --- 95354

  5. #5
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    Nov 2009
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    FernGullyGraphics;

    Thanks for the response. From my observation most fall into the last category.

    It seems that I see a lot of discussion about things that are added on to what is really a simple product, thus causing no end of frustration to the customers that also post here.

    For instance; I see much discussion about "support teams", support persons can do almost nothing at this level, this is providing the customer something that cannot work and raising their frustration level. Inflated pricing would also seem to be a result.

    Again I ask the general populace of providers here; Can you tell me what good a "support team" is for this product? It seems to me like providing a valet at a self service car wash or a group of movers at a self storage location.

  6. #6
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    May 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by srfreeman View Post

    I am trying to sort out what the "service" is that is being provided by providers that are members here.
    The services offered here revolve primarily around being permitted to put web content onto computers located in data centers where Internet connectivity is expected to be reliable and fast.

    In some cases the offer includes only files for one Internet domain - web hosting.

    In other cases the service includes a slice of an entire computer - VPS.

    In still other cases an entire computer - dedicated servers.

    The common element that raises the services offered here above what you might do at home with a DSL or Cable Internet connection is better throughput and location in a facility designed for high speed Internet connectivity.
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  7. #7
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    Oct 2005
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    If you think that support is not required for hosting clients that know nothing about hosting a website, then you don't quite understand things.

    Your analogy's are FAR from accurate.

    Someone buying a self storage unit knows that they need to unload their moving van, stick it all in the unit, and lock the door. It's a pretty simple process.

    Setting up a website (at the minimum requirement levels) is a bit more complicated than that...and most people that start from 0 knowledge do not know all aspects of managing it...hence the need for support.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by srfreeman View Post
    Again I ask the general populace of providers here; Can you tell me what good a "support team" is for this product? It seems to me like providing a valet at a self service car wash or a group of movers at a self storage location.
    Some of us get zero clients from WHT. The fact that you are reading this forum makes you unlikely to host with me. The typical WHT user, judging from their comments here, is interested in technical specs. They are the web hosting world's equivalent to the audiophile who will get passionate about the internal components in a high end receiver. And they want bang for the buck. Disk space, data transfer, connectivity, third-party uptime stats ... all of that matters to them, and yes, they are buying in what amounts to a commodity market.

    My typical customer is a small business owner, non-profit or dedicated hobbyist who wants to get his website running. They have no idea how to do it. They may not even know how to do anything other than check email, and sometimes they need help with that. I have one customer who finally "trusts" email, but mails me a check, wrapped in several sheets of paper, because he won't use Paypal. These customers don't care about "web stuff" ... one responded to me "OK, you said 'blah, blah, blah' but all I want to know is can you fix it?"

    They don't care about the specs, they just need a web site because their competitor has one, and they realize they need to compete. They are too busy in real life, earning money, to spend time combing message boards.

    So, does that customer need support? You bet he does. He needs someone to watch and increase bandwidth allotment temporarily if his boat design gets featured in Wooden Boat Magazine. He needs someone to help him figure out why his email keeps filling up. He needs someone to call and ask why the hell his buddy is getting Viagra ads from HIM.

  9. #9
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    Nov 2009
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    srider;

    Thanks, that is what I see too, one step beyond daddy's den.

    Daniel B and fshagan;

    So you are providing consulting services to the customer and you are actually the consumer of the hosting services on behalf of your client. I was more concerned with the vendor providing the hosting service direct to the consumer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by srfreeman View Post
    FernGullyGraphics;

    Thanks for the response. From my observation most fall into the last category.

    It seems that I see a lot of discussion about things that are added on to what is really a simple product, thus causing no end of frustration to the customers that also post here.

    For instance; I see much discussion about "support teams", support persons can do almost nothing at this level, this is providing the customer something that cannot work and raising their frustration level. Inflated pricing would also seem to be a result.

    Again I ask the general populace of providers here; Can you tell me what good a "support team" is for this product? It seems to me like providing a valet at a self service car wash or a group of movers at a self storage location.
    With all do respect, you kind of lost me there. Technical support is one of the key aspects of any web hosting business. Without customer support, you have no business. That is actually one of the many complaints I hear from customers at other companies. I dont believe I have ever read or heard of someone complaining about a company offering great customer support, which resulted in the inflation of an extra couple bucks per month.

    Are you telling me that you are looking for a company that offers a great web hosting platform, with no support? Kinda seems like a catch 22 if you ask me.
    Visit GoFGG.com (FernGullyGraphics) for useful information about web hosting and development.

    FernGullyGraphics --- 426 14th St. Suite #115 --- Modesto, California --- 95354

  11. #11
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    Again I ask the general populace of providers here; Can you tell me what good a "support team" is for this product? It seems to me like providing a valet at a self service car wash or a group of movers at a self storage location.
    IMHO you're over simplifying things. However, when things break down, you definitely need support, someone to take a look at the situation and rectify it. The end user has a lot of tools at his disposal via control panel SSH etc., but he often doesn't have root access, and even if he had it, it wouldn't do him any good.

    Most businesses try to automate things as much as possible, but there will always be users or situations when help is required. I've had terrible customer support, with hosts and with other companies. You know, the kind of instance when your internet connection isn't working properly, your electricity is on and off etc., when you've done all you could/knew on your own, and now you need your provider to help you out.

    It may sound strange, but a company's worth is proven when things go wrong (because at some point, they always will).

    To say that support is not worth anything is false. It is in fact, one of the major costs incurred when running a decently sized web hosting company.

  12. #12
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    I think the OP has raised a very valid point: speaking generally, most hosting providers really don't provide a service. They're just renting space on a server.

    fshagan (above) is an exception, and there are others around, too. They provide a value-added service to real customers whom they meet in the flesh. The difference is like the difference between an auto parts store and a trusted mechanic. Sure, you can get the parts at the store, and yes, the guy behind the counter might, might, even help you figure out which is the right one for your car. But then you're on your own.

    And that's how most hosting "services" operate. Even "fully managed" hosting service is not like the trusted mechanic who fixes your car and keeps it running even if you don't know what the engine looks like.

    To stand out from the zillions of other commodity hosts, the thing to do is provide a real service. True, you can't scale that like you can scale commodity hosting, if your plan is to get rich quick. But you can be a consultant to local businesses and make decent money if you provide a real service.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atarim View Post
    I think the OP has raised a very valid point: speaking generally, most hosting providers really don't provide a service. They're just renting space on a server.
    That's not true at all. Even if every aspect of a web hosting business is automated, I can almost guarantee that at least 80-90% of the clientele will contact the company at some point in time to ask some type of question related to their web hosting account (that is where customer service plays a big role).

    Second, what about server management? That in itself is a full time job and is an aspect that is often times overlooked by the consumer. You cant just simply lease a server and expect it to be ready to go right out of the box. Not to mention the maintenance of that server (Hardware/Software.., there really is a lot to it).
    Visit GoFGG.com (FernGullyGraphics) for useful information about web hosting and development.

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  14. #14
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    Let me see if I understand this.

    Provider puts pc in data center, much like the one that is on the customers desktop. Has the pc connected to the data center's network and offers the customer space on that pc to host his website.

    The customer knows the issues in play, they are the same as the ones he deals with pertaining to the pc on his desktop. Difference being that he does not own the pc in the data center so he has no need to call anyone when it breaks.

    What good is it for the customer to pay someone to answer a phone or email and say "Yep, it is down, we will get it up as soon as we can." The customer already knows this.

    If there is a problem with the website (software) the provider of that is responsible and a call to a hardware support person just to hear "We already told you, we don't do that" does no one any good.

    Yes, I understand that having several people using one simple pc is a disaster waiting to happen but putting people in the middle of it would just be a way of frustrating customers.

    So I ask; What good can possibly be seen in this practice?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by srfreeman View Post
    Daniel B and fshagan;

    So you are providing consulting services to the customer and you are actually the consumer of the hosting services on behalf of your client. I was more concerned with the vendor providing the hosting service direct to the consumer.
    I can sort of see your point, I guess in the end it can be seen as two separate aspects of the same business. I do provide hosting service direct to the client, and I also provide support for those that need it...it is a required part of offering that service.

    Similar to the analogy you first used, but possibly more accurate. Hosting, IMHO, could be related to a restraunt. The cooks make the food, but the servers (support) have to bring it to the customers. (I guess that sort of works...closest thing I could think of).

    It really can be interpretted both ways. I tend to see it as a required part of the industry, and don't view hosting as a commodity at all, it's a service in my opinion.

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