You will need to have your application "hosted" on the Internet so that people can find it. That service is called hosting. There are four main categories of hosting:
- shared hosting
- virtual private servers
- managed and non-managed servers
- cloud services.
With shared hosting, your website will share space with many others on the same server. This is good for small, relatively simple sites that don't get much traffic. Shared hosting is also fine for blogging and simple interaction with customers. It's also the cheapest option available. However, we don't recommend shared hosting services for web applications, when 24/7 reliability is often mission-critical. Your shared hosting service will maintain the server, operating system, security patches and software updates. All you have to manage is your website or blog. Shared hosting usually has shared database hosting included or as an add-on and will be needed my most blogging options. I recommend Bluehost for shared hosting.
Virtual private servers are the next level of shared hosting. The chief structural difference is that they work by allowing virtual machines to share one physical server. A virtual machine is a fully installed operating system that thinks it's running directly on physical hardware when it's really running in another program. The benefits of this configuration include the ability to completely isolate your operations from other users on the server and to relocate your operations if you require more resources. We recommend virtual private servers and cloud hosting for most Web applications. One service we use and recommend that others check out is Linode.
Managed and non-managed servers are sometimes called co-lo or co-location servers. These are typically used by enterprise companies and companies that require their own servers for any number of reasons. "Managed" means that as part of the service, the servers are managed, software is appropriately updated, data backups are managed, and tech problems and failures are repaired. "Non-managed" means that a service just provides power and Internet. That means the hardware, backups -- and everything else -- is up to you to manage. This is the most expensive option for hosting and shouldn't be required for most Web applications.
Cloud hosting options include Heroku, Amazons EC2, and Microsoft Azure. These are highly scalable, virtual machines, where you can add new virtual data on demand. These options are good for applications that can require high capacity -- but not all of the time. Cloud options are fast becoming our favorite option because services like Heroku do most of the management and allow us and our customers to focus on Web application development and access to huge scaling options.
Contact Red27 when you're trying to determine which hosting and tech-support services are best for your company and specific projects.