Very important aspects of organisational infrastructure management are domain name and hosting , i.e. on which server are the organisational websites hosted and which registrar they registered the domain name with.
There are numerous choices when registering a domain name (e.g. organisation.org) and it can be done relatively cheaply and easily online, depending on the needs of the organisation. Domain names are usually registered on a yearly basis and registration must be regularly renewed.
Organisations can opt for different types of top level domains, i.e. the ending part of the URL, and most common are:
- Country code (ccTLD), which are associated with a specific country, region or territory: .de, .br, .ca;
- Generic (gTLD), related to general notions: .com, .net, .org;
- Sponsored (sTLD), reserved for specific types of registrants, such as government bodies or international organisations: .gov, .int, .aero.
When registering a domain, there is also the option of Whois domain protection, so that the registrant’s information (name, address, contacts...) wouldn’t be visible in Whois lookup searches. However, for organisations such as media, domain transparency is recommended.
Websites can be hosted domestically, i.e. in the country where the organisation operates, or internationally. Both options are equally viable, but have some specifics to them:
- Domestic hosting
- You can directly inspect the quality and security of the providers’ server halls;
- Better availability of technical support that does not depend only on reporting and online communication;
- Liquidity and reputation of hosting providers can be checked in the local community;
- There is no application of legal provisions pertaining to international personal data transfers;
- If a site targeting domestic audiences is under DDoS [DDoS] attack from abroad (which is usually the case) it can remain stable and accessible to domestic users by temporarily blocking foreign IP addresses .
- Foreign hosting
- The server where the site is hosted is outside the jurisdiction of state authorities in the organisation’s country;
- Domestic legislation does not apply to hosting, so legal and administrative procedures related to the hosted content can be complicated and uncertain.
In terms of technical aspects of hosting, there are four types:
- Shared hosting is hosting based on the principle of sharing resources. Different sites on a shared server share the processor, bandwidth, disk space, and so on. This means that if one of the sites on shared hosting has an increased number of access requests, the performance of other sites on the same server will be affected;
- Virtual Private Server (VPS) is hosting where everyone has their own resources. Technically, multiple virtual servers are set up on one physical server and each of them has certain resources that it does not share with others. Also, if one of the virtual servers is attacked, the integrity of others is not compromised;
- Dedicated server is a type of hosting where the user is assigned the exclusive right to access the machine and use it for any purpose. On the dedicated server, virtual machines can be set up and used for different purposes, such as web hosting, email, data storage;
- Cloud hosting is hosting on multiple servers connected to function as one, which contributes to the decentralisation of the system, and thus has better integrity. In case of a failure on one of the servers, the others take over its role, so the problem will not affect the operation of the site.
Shared hosting is not recommended in cases when the site consists of active content that changes relatively often and when the number of visitors varies. Dedicated hosting and cloud hosting are better solutions, but their price is a bit higher. Finally, the choice of option depends on the needs of the organisation.
Technical support is one of the most important segments of the hosting service, because in case something goes wrong, this service is a contact point that must be fully cooperative to solve the problem as soon as possible. It is advisable to choose a company whose technical support service is operational 24/7.
Although all the content and traffic on the internet is practically virtual, good old machines are still the basis of it all. That is why it is important to check what kind of hardware the hosting company is using.
Finally, the technical specifications of the hosting package are the most important feature and it is desirable that they are scalable, i.e. that they can be adapted and upgraded in accordance with the changing needs of the organisation.
Good hosting also implies decentralisation. It is not recommended that the same server is used to host the site and as a mail server or data center. The web server must be accessible from the public internet, while access to the data center from the public internet would be a serious security issue. If there is a need to access the data stored in the data center remotely, it is best to use VPN services.