Developer friendly hosting
Why is developer-friendly hosting important? Given the technical nature of the web hosting and managed server industry, the end client or end user of a hosting service from the outset may often not know what web hosting is or even why they need it. This inevitably leaves what is the first point of contact - the web developer - in the role of organising, recommending, managing or even provider of website hosting.
In the web hosting hot seat, the web developer, whose core business is actually building and developing applications, ultimately spends a fair amount of time working with web hosting companies. With such a central role, making life easier for the web developer would seem only reasonable. So what makes a hosting service friendly for a web developer?
Support for the latest technologies
As a hosting company, the latest trends in application development perhaps aren't always an object of fixation; after all you're a systems administrator not an application developer.
For a web developer the latest releases, frameworks and technologies are important as they enable you to do more with less, meet the demands of your clients, keep ahead of the game and develop some funky applications. But mostly because they're fun to play with.
Early support of emerging technologies is important. To name a few:
Being in control of the production environment for most of the work produced by web developers and being accessible for technical support and resolution of issues is critically important.
Maintaining a reliable hosting service is speciality independent of website development. On the upside you get a company that can concentrate on nothing other than ensuring your applications are available and performing. Unfortunately - on the downside - this most often means relinquishing control over configuration of the production environment in which your carefully crafted application will live. This separation of control means that a working and accessible relationship between the developer and the host couldn't be more important.
- Phone support - some things are much faster and easier to resolve over the phone than via email.
- No phone queues - sitting on hold for 20 minutes each time you need support is a sure way to kill productivity, not to mention causing hair loss.
- Email tracking systems - you can't always expect to deal with the same person at your hosting provider but a ticketing system can ensure your request doesn't get lost and more importantly that all requests are dealt with, having knowledge of your support history.
- Escalation - if you've got a complex problem there's nothing worse than trying to resolve it with someone that understands less about the problem than you do. Getting to the right person quickly is the key.
The importance of making a good first impression in any relationship perhaps goes without saying. The curious part of many web developer - web host relationships is that this first impression is made by the sales and marketing department, yet this only ever proves to be a brief encounter. Inevitably it's the technical support team, the helpdesk and the systems administrators, and it's the relationship with these guys (and girls) that is going to be by far the most important.
It's the technical competence of your team keeping services online that is ultimately responsible for making your application sing and making your life easy every time you pick up the phone or reach out via email. It's an easy issue to flag, but what defines technical competence in a web hosting team?
Not using CPanel or Plesk is often a good start.
- An underlying personal interest in technology and more specifically a passion for Linux and open source technologies.
- A desire to implement the best technical solution to the problems presented.
- Obsessive-compulsive attention to detail.
- Sound testing, troubleshooting, debugging, and analysis skills. Having the desire to drill down to the root cause of problem rather than dealing with the symptoms.
- Tertiary qualifications in computer science or equivalent.
- An environment which fosters ongoing development of skills, sharing of knowledge and constant improvement of process.
Ultimately in any business relationship, when you find that supplier or client that you enjoy working with, you just know it. But what makes it so? perhaps it's rapport - "a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well" - or in simple terms, it's dealing with people that are on your wavelength.
For rapport to exist in that web host - web developer relationship it's a combination of technical competence, accessible support and an underlying interest and working with you to get your creation humming along.
If developer-friendly hosting sounds like it might work for you, take a look around at our other web hosting articles, call us, work with us, and decide for yourself.