Welcome!

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

Choosing a ColdFusion Web Host

Choosing a ColdFusion Web Host

So you need a ColdFusion Web host. Typically, your first question would be: "Who do I choose?" More important, I believe, is the question: "Why am I choosing?" This statement may not seem relevant until you look at the "whys" of choosing a ColdFusion Web host.

There are many things to consider. What type of site will you need hosting for? Will your focus be mainly business or personal? Are you launching an e-commerce or online store? Maybe even a corporate presence site? What are your predictions for visitor traffic? What features will you need to successfully deploy your site? These are just the basic things to consider. So let's start at the top of my "why" list.

ColdFusion Version
Existing sites may depend on a certain version of ColdFusion Application Server. There have been many changes to existing tags as well as added features between ColdFusion 4 and ColdFusion 4.5. If your site has been coded for ColdFusion 4, you may have to make code changes (depending on which tags you use) if you choose a host that offers only ColdFusion 4.5. You can view the complete list of new features at ftp://ftp.allaire.com/kbftp/Cold-Fusion/new.htm. In addition to the tag and feature changes, there's a difference in the way ColdFusion 4 and ColdFusion 4.5 use server resources. Occasionally a site that ran fine on ColdFusion 4 will consume more resources on ColdFusion 4.5. If you haven't developed your site yet, compare the differences in ColdFusion 4 and ColdFusion 4.5 to see which is right for you. Note that ColdFusion Application Server 4 is no longer offered by Allaire, and therefore Allaire support may be limited.

Database Needs
There have been many great articles in ColdFusion Developer's Jour- nal and other resources about choosing a database, so I won't venture into that territory. Whichever database you've chosen, your host must offer it and be fairly knowledgeable in supporting it. Along with the choice of database comes the choice of version. Bear in mind that with the release of a new version of a product, support for the previous version becomes limited or obsolete. If a problem arises with the database at your web host and they can't get support for the product, you may face making this decision all over again. That can lead to extended downtime and/or more expense.

ColdFusion Functionality and Custom Tags
Will your site need the use of CFFile, CFDirectory, CFContent, or some of the other "high risk" yet powerful tags in ColdFusion? Many shared hosting providers don't offer the use of these tags as they present a security risk on the server. Suppose a user decides to use the tag CFFile to locate, then delete, important files from the server? Disaster! Also, consider whether your site will use any custom tags. Although you can use any .cfm custom tag by placing it in the directory that will be calling it, there are many useful and timesaving CFX custom tags available. A CFX tag is a Windows component (.dll), which must be registered in the ColdFusion Ad-ministrator before use. If either of these features is important to your site, you'll need a host that will provide them.

Server Platform
Along with the above considerations, the server platform is especially relevant for an existing site. Which platform you choose depends on your personal choice, whether your site is already developed or you'll be developing it from scratch, and the database you plan to use. The ColdFusion Application Server software has been tested with several platforms: Windows (NT or 2000), HP-UX, Linux, and Solaris.

Pricing
Pricing will affect your decision depending on your budget, the features you want/need, and the hosts you investigate. Some hosts offer rock-bottom pricing because their plans and/or resources are rock bottom (i.e., low dollars for low features). Does the host offer a variety of plans? What bandwidth do they offer? What are the transfer limits and disk space allowed? If you have more than one domain, will you need additional accounts? Do they have a money-back guarantee? How much do they charge for setup fees? What type of payments do they accept (ACH check draft, invoice, credit card)? Do they offer discounts for prepaid lengths, such as three, six, or 12 months? These are all options you must weigh depending on your situation.

DataCenter/Server Room Specifics
When choosing a host, an important consideration is the equipment they use and the environment in which it's kept. Many larger hosts utilize a data center, where the servers can be kept in a building separate from the offices. Some hosts use an isolated area commonly referred to as a server room. If your site is mainly for fun, the following points may not be as important. But if your site is mission-critical, say, an e-commerce site your business depends on, then the answers to the following questions should weigh heavily in your decision.

Questions to ask about their data center/server room can include the following:

  • What types or brands of servers are they using?
  • Are environmental controls in place, such as temperature control, static reduction, and moisture elimination?
  • What fire prevention/suppression plans do they have?
  • How do they handle power failures?
  • What type of physical access security do they have in place?
  • How often are backups performed?
  • What is their overall disaster recovery plan?
Support
Another factor in your decision concerns support. What type of support are you mainly concerned with? E-mail? Telephone? Live chat? Will you need support after business hours or on the weekends? What type of support does your prospective host offer? Do they have a toll-free telephone number? How long is their average response time? Are customers given honest, easy-to-understand explanations if there's a problem? What level of knowledge does the host require of the support team? As with each of these choices, individual needs will be your deciding factor.

E-Mail
When you think of e-mail choices, you must think beyond your current needs. E-mail can be an ever-growing part of your application. Does your prospective host offer your own domain e-mail addresses? Will you need mailing lists or auto responders? How about a catchall or default account? Does your prospective host offer a web-based administrative interface? Will you be able to easily create additional e-mail accounts, aliases, or forwards? What brand of e-mail server software are they offering?

Other Application Needs
In addition to ColdFusion, do you have other application needs? Do you plan on using ASP, CGI, Perl, or even PHP? If you'd like to use any Java-based applications, your host must be able to support those as well.

SSL/E-Commerce
If your application does any type of credit card information gathering or processing, you'll need a secure connection. That's where SSL (Secured Socket Layer) comes in. This protocol encrypts the information from the browser to the web server and back. Without this security in place, you may lose a substantial amount of business due to concerns about credit card fraud. If you need SSL you can purchase your own certificate, which is usually linked to your domain name. Some providers offer a shared SSL certificate. Basically this is a certificate that was purchased by the host for all users on the server to use if they desire. There can be differences between a shared SSL and a domain-specific SSL in your site's secure url.

Now that we've gone over many of the "why" questions, let's talk a little about the "who." When you've gathered the answers to your "why" questions, you'll then have a list of prospective "whos." When comparing each host, you should research the following info as well.

Experience
How long has the host been in business? How many users do they have? Do they have any testimonials available? Do you know anyone who's currently hosting with them? If so, what has their experience been? Search through the different Web host rating sites for comments about the prospective host, such as superiorhosts.com, hostindex.com, webhostdir.com, tophosts.com, or any of the many host review sites. Also take into consideration any partnerships or alliances they have with software producers, such as Allaire, Microsoft, Compaq, Cisco, or Sun. These partnerships/alliances can keep a host well informed about the products they offer and can usually ensure they have adequate product support if they need it.

Now that you have a good list of questions to consider when choosing a host, the next step is to compare the features you need, the questions you have, and the plans each host has to offer. This may seem like a daunting task and you may feel pressured to "just choose one." Remember that if your business or your client's business depends on the site, you must choose carefully. Taking the extra time before making a choice can save you time, money, and frustration down the line.

More Stories By Stephenie Hamilton

Stephenie Hamilton is the senior ColdFusion administrator for CFXHosting. She has been involved in the development of an advanced shared hosting environment that allows access to the ColdFusion Administrator and many other features not found in a typical shared environment.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, will discuss how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money! Speaker Bio: Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, has spent 16 years as a marketing, product management, and busin...
Samsung VP Jacopo Lenzi, who headed the company's recent SmartThings acquisition under the auspices of Samsung's Open Innovaction Center (OIC), answered a few questions we had about the deal. This interview was in conjunction with our interview with SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson. IoT Journal: SmartThings was developed in an open, standards-agnostic platform, and will now be part of Samsung's Open Innovation Center. Can you elaborate on your commitment to keep the platform open? Jacopo Lenzi: Samsung recognizes that true, accelerated innovation cannot be driven from one source, but requires a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash Inc., will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
BSQUARE is a global leader of embedded software solutions. We enable smart connected systems at the device level and beyond that millions use every day and provide actionable data solutions for the growing Internet of Things (IoT) market. We empower our world-class customers with our products, services and solutions to achieve innovation and success. For more information, visit www.bsquare.com.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic • Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it’s a mix of architectural style...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SOA Software, an API management leader, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SOA Software is a leading provider of API Management and SOA Governance products that equip business to deliver APIs and SOA together to drive their company to meet its business strategy quickly and effectively. SOA Software’s technology helps businesses to accelerate their digital channels with APIs, drive partner adoption, monetize their assets, and achieve a...
From a software development perspective IoT is about programming "things," about connecting them with each other or integrating them with existing applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Yakov Fain, co-founder of Farata Systems and SuranceBay, will show you how small IoT-enabled devices from multiple manufacturers can be integrated into the workflow of an enterprise application. This is a practical demo of building a framework and components in HTML/Java/Mobile technologies to serve as a platform that can integrate new devices as they become available on the market.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Utimaco will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Utimaco is a leading manufacturer of hardware based security solutions that provide the root of trust to keep cryptographic keys safe, secure critical digital infrastructures and protect high value data assets. Only Utimaco delivers a general-purpose hardware security module (HSM) as a customizable platform to easily integrate into existing software solutions, embed business logic and build s...
Connected devices are changing the way we go about our everyday life, from wearables to driverless cars, to smart grids and entire industries revolutionizing business opportunities through smart objects, capable of two-way communication. But what happens when objects are given an IP-address, and we rely on that connection, sometimes with our lives? How do we secure those vast data infrastructures and safe-keep the privacy of sensitive information? This session will outline how each and every connected device can uphold a core root of trust via a unique cryptographic signature – a “bir...
Internet of @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley announced on Thursday its first 12 all-star speakers and sessions for its upcoming event, which will take place November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. @ThingsExpo, the first and largest IoT event in the world, debuted at the Javits Center in New York City in June 10-12, 2014 with over 6,000 delegates attending the conference. Among the first 12 announced world class speakers, IBM will present two highly popular IoT sessions, which will take place November 4-6, 2014 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...