Sunday, January 25, 2004
I just spent 14 hours on a conference call migrating servers from our old network to the new network. The first few migrations went smoothly. We got into trouble when database connectivity between a web server and a database failed and we began troubleshooting. When asked for the system documentation, the group responsible for the servers didn't respond. There is no system documentation. The problem ended up being a single config issue that, with the proper documentation, a monkey could have fixed. Instead, we wasted six plus hours across a dozen people at a cost of approximately $15K troubleshooting this issue. This is a perfect example of problems that can be avoided with a single repository for system documentation and configuration information, if administered properly.
 
During the process of coming up with a way to avoiding paying the Register.com taxes on transferring domain ownership, my colleague and I went on a tangent discussing approaches to hosting your site. There are three components to consider when starting or considering major changes to your web site: registrar, DNS, and the ISP. For most people who just want to host a blog or a simple site, a turnkey package may be best. But, this turnkey package may come with some hidden complications or taxes. The Register.com $200 domain registrant transfer fee is a perfect example. This turnkey package also pretty much locks you into a provider forever. Trying to get out of their dastardly clutches can be like trying to get a tax return, with the amount of paperwork and time that is involved. Another approach is to go to separate vendors for each of these components. Going with three separate vendors can also be tiresome in keeping track of them. Ultimately, this approach gives you greater flexibility and control over your web presence.

I’ve done a quick analysis on my current situation and the proposed environment that my colleague and I are working on. See the chart below for cost details.

The current situation I have illustrated is using BlueDomino’s Extreme web hosting package and Register.com as the registrar. The proposed situation illustrated here uses Eryxma’s Advanced Shared Hosting solution as it seems the most comparable to the BlueDomino Extreme package. ZoneEdit is the DNS provider in the proposed situation. GoDaddy is the registrar in the proposed situation. The proposed situation is $110.62 less than the current situation and provides greater control and flexibility. Of course there could be an even greater cost delta depending on the vendors you choose. This cost analysis applies to starting a new web site, not switching from one provider to another. To determine switching costs, you need to factor in the cost of transferring domains between registrars and the time you would spend working on the transfer. In the situation illustrated here, the cost of transferring domains to GoDaddy is a flat fee of $7.95. Register.com has no transfer out fee, but other registrars might. I’ll leave the costs of your time up to you to figure out.

In conclusion, it pays to do your research once a year to see how prices have dropped and see if you might be able to realize some cost savings from the increasing competition in the web hosting space. This not only applies to personal web sites, but large corporate sites as well. Performing an analysis like this for a large corporate site is much more complex and factors in things like private connectivity, hardware depreciation, maintenance on hardware and software, cash flow, and salaries in addition to hosting costs. Things get a lot more complex if you host your web site in-house and have to dig through cost centers to find these numbers. I perform analyses like this for a living for very large companies with very complex web hosting environments.

 
I was referred to an excellent resource this past week for comparing domain registrars: RegSelect. They have great comparison charts for most of the big registrars in terms of pricing and features. I am in the process of transferring a domain I am holding for a colleague at Register.com. It would cost me $200 to transfer the domain to him internally at Register.com. It will only cost me $25 to transfer the domain to GoDaddy and transfer ownership of the domain to him. Wow! What a difference. Register.com is really trying to capitalize on those people who park domains and then sell them. After finding this out and seeing the comparison charts at RegSelect, I think I will be moving all of my domains.
 

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