There are lots of businesses that, while providing great services, don’t get many new clients from their website. If this sounds familiar, it’s likely the problem lies not with your business but with your website. In this post, we’ll look at five tweaks you can make to improve your website and make it much more …
When it comes to networking capabilities, knowledge truly is power. Those companies that rely heavily on their networks for the storing and sharing of business information know that without a strong working knowledge of their IT infrastructures, they risk encountering significant obstacles in recovering whenever those networks experience issues. Yet not every company has the knowledge needed to establish their own servers with enough bandwidth to meet their online needs, nor do they have the resources needed to bring on personnel to create and manage such a server for them. This leaves many smaller companies unable to compete with larger competitors who employ in-house support staffs.
Help Through Managed Hosting
Fortunately, these companies have other resources that they can turn to in order to meet their server demands. Data colocation providers allow them the opportunity to establish their own reliable server networks without having to maintain those networks themselves. Instead, their servers are housed in a dedicated colocation center, where they have immediate access to power reserves and support staffs to help avoid network downtime, as well as the bandwidth needed to support their online traffic. Whether they’re storing their own server within a center or simply renting space on an existing server, this managed hosting service allows these companies to enjoy the same level of network reliability as their competitors.
Yet that’s not to say that there aren’t drawbacks in working with a colocation provider. The glaring concern that those who rely on data centers typically have is network availability. With one’s entire infrastructure routed through a single server at a single location, concerns about the server environment are inevitable. The center itself can knock a server out and make it unavailable until those issues are resolved, and while colocation providers have safeguards in place to deal with such issues, try as they might, no provider can guarantee 100% operational efficiency.
Such concerns have led many to turn to the newest craze in server technology: the cloud. Cloud providers establish a virtual server network through a single host server, meaning that the space clients are renting is in a virtual space as opposed to a physical one. These virtual servers offer a number of advantages over their physical counterparts, namely:
- Scalability: A physical server can only offer so much server space. That means that if a client’s server space hits capacity during peak times, he or she can no longer handle any more traffic. In the cloud, extra server resources can be allotted to a client whenever they’re needed, meaning that his or her network can accommodate any level of traffic volume.
- Costs: In order to protect themselves from constantly stressing their server capacity, many colocation provider clients will aim high in determining how much space they need to rent. While this protects them against crashes during high-volume periods, it also means that they’re often paying for space that’s not being used. In contrast, cloud server clients only pay for what they use. When any of the aforementioned additional resources are needed to support heavy online traffic, the client pays extra for them. Yet once that traffic dies down, he or she is back to paying only for the space currently being used. This also holds true for periods of low traffic volumes.
- Set-up: Setting up a space on a cloud server is essentially like enrolling in a subscription service. Because the space itself is virtual, there’s no need to wait and see if a provider has physical space on which they can place one’s server. Thus, set-up is often as easy as applying for space with a provider and immediately being given a fully-functioning IP address.
- Availability: When issues at a data center affect server performance, clients often have to wait until those issues are resolved to have their network access restored. Those issues are nearly eliminated in the virtual environment. Because a cloud service provider has so many servers at his or her disposal, he or she can route an individual client’s resources to another server should any issues arise.
For all of the benefits that cloud servers offer, they also have their disadvantages. Cloud services often offer little extended monitoring, meaning that clients typically are only notified of issues happening on their own host server. Thus, they only learn of issues on the server network when their own servers go down. Network security in the virtual space is also a concern, as the lack of physical monitoring of cloud networks makes them prone to attack.
Can Cloud and Colocation Coexist?
Many of the more-established cloud service providers have developed methods to combat these issues. For those providers on the rise, they’re left with the difficult decision of having to either use their competitor’s services or risk exposing themselves to problems. Recently, however, many of these new providers have come up with a third option: a return to managed hosting. That’s right; many cloud providers themselves have recently chosen to follow the colocation model in establishing their host servers. While bucking the trend established by their predecessors, these providers are discovering that working with managed hosting services offers a number of benefits. These include:
- Server management: The task of maintaining production workloads across multiple virtual networks falls to the colocation provider, who also assumes the job of monitoring the cloud environment.
- Security: Colocation providers use the same security methods to protect their virtual servers as they do with their physical ones, namely:
- Hybridization: Some applications can’t meet their performance needs on the virtual server and thus need the bandwidth available from a physical one. A hybridized model allows these new cloud providers to offer their clients many of the best benefits of both the cloud and colocation worlds.
There are some who feel as though by relying on the colocation model, these new cloud providers may be pushing clients back to it altogether. If many of the benefits thought to be unique to the cloud are supported by managed hosting, what’s to stop clients from devaluing those benefits in favor of the safety and stability offered in the managed environment?
Can cloud service providers survive relying on managed hosting services? Only time and client response to their services will tell. In the meantime, those up-and-coming cloud providers looking to gain a firm foothold in the virtual space may find that outsourcing their management to a colocation provider will make it easier for them deliver the security and stability needed to lure in those potential clients who are looking for such benefits in the cloud environment.
Top image ©GL Stock Images
IBM SoftLayer is planning to launch data centers in Dallas and Ashburn, Virginia, dedicated to providing Infrastructure-as-a-Service to agencies of the U.S. federal government.
Chances are, one of your new year’s resolutions was to increase your business. Stopping something, like smoking, or drinking are hard enough… and who would want to stop? But I digress. STARTING something is very hard. You have no road map for success and have usually jumped into it without the proper planning. Well, in honor of 2014 (even years are luckier than odd years, so goes some ancient curse… I’ve heard), let this be the first of a series published in January that will give you simple steps to planning or just re-evaluating your business approach. If you get just one good idea, then that’s good enough for a resolution most people forget about.
With the endless holiday parties you attended, did you miss the opportunities for meeting people, getting referrals, and, with those too much to drink kind of parties? Blackmail-a-plenty from those parties could start a flood of projects from happy and/or frightened and regretful new party pals.
Face-to-Face Networking is Still Important
You have a friend who works for that big ad agency in town? Well, if you asked nicely, don’t you think they would invite you to attend some event or party? If you threatened to post those photos from Mardi Gras on Facebook, I’m sure they would welcome you with open arms. You do, of course, have to remember not to be pushy about networking at office parties. Subtle and loose is the best approach. Wait for someone to ask who you are and what you do and let them to ask for your card. Once that ice is broken, then you can ask for their card and leave it sit for a week to call and causally mention where you met and could you get 15 minutes of their time to talk about some business and you’ll bring some coffee and donuts. More often than not, that works fine.
Always remember to ask for referrals. If things go well at your meeting, ask if they know anyone else at the agency they think you should meet. Maybe they know someone at another agency? Word of mouth referrals are always the best link to new clients. Actually, come to think of it, the best link to new clients is to make out with the head creative director or VP of marketing at the holiday party. Yeah, yeah… call me cheap and trashy but I have better clients than you have.
The beautiful lady in this video is a bit creepy and she speaks as if the viewer is a moron, but she has a couple of great ideas.
Here’s a lady that speaks in general terms but they are good ground rules.
Lest we not forget the compulsory get-together with close friends and family at holiday time. While your family is busy making suggestions about why you don’t design a web site for MicroSoft because they will pay good money, they usually don’t have the brain synapses firing enough to remember that Uncle Squinky was a college frat brother of the CEO of some huge corporation or Great Aunt Flippsie was the biggest trollop at Yale and slept with men who are now the majority of CEOs for the Fortune 100. It just takes some gentle questions and a bit of digging and you’ll find family can hold a wealth of connections. If you didn’t disgrace yourself at the family dinner this year, then call your connected uncle and ask for an introduction or referral.
Those Digital Friends
Most of us have a couple of hundred Facebook friends and while some might not be real friends, if you have a dozen really close friends, why not ask them if they have any connections that could help you? Ask them to repeat the advice of the family connections. Surely they have slutty aunts and drunken frat uncles, too! Good friends are here for us as we are for them. You will find yourself closer to those who will go to bat for you and what better way to start the new year than an appreciation for those who love us for ourselves and not a blood relationship?
With the new hashtag capabilities of Facebook, you have an even greater reach for your fan page, or profile. Here’s an older video on Facebook fan pages. Some functions you need to know and a few ideas you can use.
Put Yourself Out There
All over your town, there are events and volunteer opportunities for the holidays. Get involved and show you care. You will meet others who care and appreciate you for your generous nature. If nothing pans out from those you meet, at least you’ve helped others and, of course, the people you meet will know other people. In my experience, when you tell someone you are a designer, they immediately blurt out how they know the creative director of this agency or the president of that company. Keep the conversation going and tell them you’d appreciate an introduction or phone number.
Sometimes we need to build our interpersonal skills, and there’s nothing better than one of these old instructional films. Just remember that the hairstyles, fashion, cars and attitudes were from one hundred years ago.
WOW! Did you get the size of those weird, wall-mounted cell phones Jerry was using?!
Have you kept up with existing connections? Did you send out holiday greetings? You still have time to send at least an ecard to those email contacts you haven’t heard from in a year or more. Buy a $ 1 seasonal stock image (DON’T LIFT IMAGES OFF THE INTERNET THAT YOU DON’T OWN!) and slap some type on it and BINGO! You can revive those old relationships. It’s also acceptable to create an actual card and send it out with New Year wishes, which gives you another few days to design something and have it printed. Get on it because people do like being remembered. My years dealing with greeting card companies proved people love getting cards because they’re so out of the ordinary. Give it a try!
There are always lots of options for networking but we tend to forget those that are closest to us can be the most valuable for quality connections. As with the presents you will received this year, keep the best and return the rest. Best of luck and here’s to a great , prosperous new year.
Top image ©GL Stock Images
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