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Things to Keep in Mind when Selecting a Service Provider.

Web hosting offers more efficiencies, reliability, and range of services than hosting in-house, but selecting the right host should be a matter of determined strategic choice, not expedience. If what you want is:

  • The security of knowing your Web site and applications are always up and running
  • The most inexpensive and efficient hosting solution possible
  • Immediate service for every single customer service need
  • The right technical skills, capabilities and flexible solutions to best meet your needs
  • A world-class, secure network infrastructure with redundant capabilities

Find a provider that excels in meeting all of your needs.  Don't settle for less... Here's what you should ask.

How stable is your hosting company Will you be around tomorrow?
Make sure your Web hosting company has the resources to survive, let alone service your needs. Staff cutbacks and other cost-saving measures may severely decrease the quality of your services. Your host may cease operations, leaving you in the lurch.

ITS Group Information Technology, founded in 1993, is privately held, growing, and stable. Other hosting companies assumed massive debt to build superfluous data centers to meet forecasted demand that never materialized. They now lack the revenues to carry their debt. ITS Group Information Technology approached its own growth in the same manner as it approaches each of its customers' configurations. That is, through smart growth: build according to today's needs, keep costs low, and grow further as needs warrant.

Everyone claims to have good customer service; how can you prove it?
Good customer service is critical given the degree of reliance and trust you must place in your host. Don't tolerate a host that is not dependable, doesn't act when something goes wrong, fails to return your phone calls, or fails to resolve matters to your satisfaction. Find out:

  • If they feature personalized customer service representatives dedicated to your account who know you and your business personally, and are very knowledgeable about your service configuration without having to be educated each time you call
  • If the customer service representatives are technically proficient to solve your problems and know their own business well enough to make sure you get the best and most efficient service
  • If they have engineers with core technical skills and experience onsite and available 24x7x365 to tackle any problem
  • If they have 24x7x365 toll-free access to the NOC
  • If a live person answers the phone/e-mail promptly when you need help
    If there is excessive hold time or delay in getting back to you, because unnecessary delay is unacceptable
  • If the sales representative is more interested in just closing your sale rather than developing a quality long-term relationships with you
  • Finally, find out what their current clients say about them and the quality of their service

ITS Group Information Technology has made customer relationships and superior service its core focus, building our operations to be ultra-responsive to clients' needs. We strive to save you money and time because we know that building long-term relationships based on trust and respect is ultimately best for business.

We feature personalized Account Executives who work with individual clients on a dedicated basis, ensuring that each time you call or send an e-mail you reach the same person, who is always accessible, will respond immediately, knows you personally, and is intimately familiar with both your business and your service configuration. The same person originating your initial services will coordinate your configuration build with the engineering staff, and will be your dedicated liaison for all your ongoing service needs. You will find our Account Executives to be technically proficient and very knowledgeable.

How much is this going to cost? Can I do more with less?
Not all hosting services are equal, so oftentimes the sticker price is a deceiving and inadequate basis for comparing hosting firms. Making the effort to compare each detail of a dedicated server configuration of firms you are considering on a component-by-component basis is worth the time. Server configurations feature different CPUs, amounts of RAM, types of hard-disk storage, bandwidth and different levels of service resulting in a wide range in the levels of performance available to you. If something so cheap is too good to be true, there is probably a catch. Equally important is knowing your exact needs to avoid over-buying.

On an apples-to-apples comparison, ITS Group Information Technology is among the most competitively-priced hosting services. Our pricing system is clear and rational, so you know exactly what you are paying for, and what the additional services that you need will cost. ITS Group Information Technology takes a smart-growth approach to each of its customers' individual configurations. We assess your needs on a case-by-case basis, and build a configuration according to what you need and no more. It is easy to scale up as your needs warrant. This helps keep your costs low.

What services are included in the base price? What costs extra?
Ask exactly what services and level of performance you will get in your dedicated server package. In addition to the performance of components, make sure when pricing dedicated servers you also consider the costs of 24x7x365 monitoring and managed support, if this is not part of the standard package. Many hosting companies provide decent hardware, but then charge extra for services you might have assumed were naturally included, such as 24x7x365 customer & technical support, security, on-site NOC, back-ups, OS configuration, software installation, OS patching, system monitoring, server re-boots, DNS requests, fulfilling mail requests, general administration, other technical guidance, etc.

ITS Group Information Technology includes the full menu of services listed above in our standard package prices, including: hardware, operating system, bandwidth and redundant connectivity, redundant power, ongoing maintenance, enhanced monitoring, dedicated customer support, secure root access to your servers, Web-based access to your server statistics, and a 24x7x365 NOC. Value-added services are additionally available for remote e-mail, managed firewall, managed data restoration and back-ups, VPN accounts, streaming media, managed storage, and other services. Note that while we can do basic monitoring, installation, back-ups, and patching of some applications running on your servers, we do not generally support applications.

Who will fix things when they go wrong?
You should select a host on the basis of which company has the infrastructure and skills to minimize technical problems. However, hardware failure and occasional network outages occur regardless of whatever precautions have been taken. From server re-boots and hard disk failure to natural disasters and even terrorist attacks, the best defense is to be prepared. The question is how well will this company take care of the problem when something goes wrong? Will the company be available? Will you be charged for services rendered? Do they have the skills to fix this problem?

ITS Group Information Technology applies its collective experience and expertise to make sure nothing does go wrong. But if something does go wrong, ITS Group Information Technology fixes the problem. Because we fully own and manage our dedicated servers, you will never have to worry. From addressing a server that has stopped responding in the middle of the night, to restoring from a back up, to securing a compromised Web site, our engineers will take care of everything.

How quickly can you get my server configuration built and running?
Time is money. Although the degree of complexity of your configuration will affect the time required to launch your servers, you don't want to waste time when you could have your Web site or application server up and running more quickly with another host. Find out if there is a lag time between when you order service and when your servers go live, and weigh this time frame against your needs.

Our standard build-time is 3 business days, however we frequently get our managed dedicated server clients up and running in a couple of hours. If you require something faster, we will always do whatever is in our power to accommodate your needs. We are always improving our deployment process. For example, for clients working with a developer or network integrator, we now offer launch services designed to speed your time to market and ensure a smoother launch of your service from a developmental to live environment.

How reliable is the network & facility? How good is their technical expertise?
Does the hosting company have the right facilities and infrastructure to meet your needs? Do they have a redundant tier-one Internet connection to ensure that you never lose connectivity? Do they have a redundant uninterruptible power supply? Do they allow you access to the servers without compromising physical security? Most importantly, does the technical staff have the expertise to manage your servers and provide you the support you need?

We take network reliability and security very seriously at ITS Group Information Technology. We feature a physically secure NOC that is accessible and staffed by experienced network engineers on a 24x7x365 basis. Our own private fiber ring serves our state-of-the-art secure facility with redundancy built in to every aspect of our operations to ensure no single point of failure will affect service. To achieve national and global reach, ITS Group Information Technology co-locates exclusively with providers who also own fiber and offer premium network performance.

Is a service contract required? What happens if I want to modify my services?
Service contracts can offer you protection in the event a hosting company fails to provide the services they claimed they would. However, contracts also lock you in and limit your flexibility.

ITS Group Information Technology offers service contracts at 12-month and 24-month terms, as well as non-committal month-to-month service agreements. Clients may upgrade their systems at any time, and we simply write a new contract that supercedes the old one. We take extra care to only build services a client will need precisely because clients are responsible for paying for all the services specified in their contract for the duration of the contract.

What are your limitations? Are there any limitations to the applications I can run from the servers you host?
Test the technical skills of your prospective host by asking them to explain the limitations of the system you are building. Not all solutions have equal capacity, and some solutions are better suited to running some applications than others. A solid, dependable host should be just as competent in explaining what won't work on their servers as what will.

ITS Group Information Technology's  ability to custom-tailor a solution to your exact specifications means infinite hardware scalability. You can run any third-party software application on our servers you desire, on the operating system of your choice (from among Windows, Linux, Free BSD, Open BSD, and Sun platforms). However, ITS Group Information Technology does not provide application support. We feel your software vendor is best-suited to support the applications. While fully manage the hardware and operating system, the applications you run are your responsibility.

Further, ITS Group Information Technology does not allow clients to send SPAM, as per our Acceptable Use Policy. We take SPAM complaints very seriously, and will act swiftly to shut down offending sites. But we will always try to warn clients first about complaints we receive to give them the opportunity to make appropriate corrections.

Also we do not support any adult sites as per our Adult Site Policy and Acceptable Use Policy..

What are the biggest mistakes to avoid?
The biggest mistake any customer seeking hosting service can do is fail to select a host based on your technical and customer service needs. Here is a list of things to avoid when host-shopping.

  • Do not select a host based on brand name. Some of the most well-known hosting firms offer the worst service. Do not select a host based on their big name clients. Hosts may pay attention to big-name clients, but may not pay enough attention to their lesser-known but cash-paying customers.
  • Do not select a host based on its size. The biggest hosts are going out of business or being acquired because of their financial difficulties, and now offer among the most unstable environments. More importantly, large hosts may not have time for small customers.
  • Do not select a host based on location. Managed dedicated hosting knows no geographic boundaries. A good host with solid network connections can host you from anywhere in the globe, and should be able to facilitate any need using remote access. There is no technical reason to be located in the same city as you. Even if you'd like someone local so you know where to find them if you have to scream and yell at someone, consider that with the right host, you will never have to scream or yell at anyone.
  • Finally, do not over buy or over build your hosting solution. Build the solution you need based on the applications you are running now, not the ones you will run tomorrow.

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