This is a guest post by David Walsh from WebHostingSearch.com.
HostingCon 2009 in Washington DC is just around the corner. It is the largest hosting conference and provides a great opportunity for people in the industry to discuss the future and the changes in the industry. We are going to give you a sneak peek at 10 trends that most likely will be discussed at the DC event. If you have ideas and insights, post a comment.
1. The implementation of IPv6
IPv6, known as Internet Protocol version 6, will be going online in three years. Every web host, data center, browser, Internet friendly software and ISP have to be compliant with the new protocol. The scary reality is that many web hosting companies are not ready for the implementation; at least not in time.
The current version, IPv4, has not been significantly altered since it was released in 1981, which still has to be regarded as a sign of its success. However, the immense growth of the Internet and the overexposure of IP-addresses in the current version was unexpected. IPv4 is literally running out of addresses to sell, and the remaining ones are being hoarded by domain buyers (a discussion from HostingCon 2008). There are other problems with IPv4: maintaining extremely large routing tables, configuration problems, and security breaches at the IP level.
At the moment, the deployment of IPv6 is in its second stage and will be launched by 2012. A hot cookie in the hosting industry.
2. Using social media marketing to differentiate your brand
You are probably already using social media on a daily basis and realizing its value is easy to do. Companies are using social media avenues to promote and market their businesses and, after a slow start, web hosting companies are on the bandwagon too. Here is our shameless plug to follow WHS on Twitter.
As web hosting is moving towards more branding and less commoditization of its products/services, SMM (social media marketing) is a key strategy. Taking advantage of social media tools, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc, a company can reach more people than through traditional sources. Look to see your hosting company and domain name provider with a bigger presence in the future.
3. Maintaining profits during an economic recession
There it is, I said the R word that no one likes. Let’s face it, the world is experiencing the worst recession since the 1930s. Gone are the days of easy profitability. How can web hosting companies stay profitable in such an economic downtime? Remember this is one of the most competitive industries, often forcing companies to cut their fees to attract new customers. Cutthroat competition has in a way saved the hosting industry from itself: bad companies will collapse, leaving way for leaner, better companies. A major challenge will be cutting the costs of in-house hosting centers for the dedicated servers. Lowering the fees of hosting for the clients is not likely, but neither is increasing the fees.
4. Cloud computing
Cloud computing was the buzz word at the 2008 HostingCon conference. Half the people had no clue what it was and the other half pretended to be experts at cloud hosting. Again, it is the buzz word of 2009. With the ability to “host in the cloud,” small to medium businesses are able to outsource a lot of IT and reallocate resources. As more major players enter the field, cloud hosting is becoming increasingly competitive and a viable solution to physical restraints of data centers.
5. The Spam Wars
Did you know that 90% of the email sent today is spam? Crap like that fills up server hard drives, clogs up network connections and wrecks havoc on everyone’s lives. It does not matter how many anti-spam protection plugins exist, spam stills arrives on a daily basis. The current trend are the self-promoting “spamming” blogs which are eating space for email servers and hosting servers. We predict a good portion of the conference will be dedicated to combating spammers.
6. Acquiring more hosting companies
You may not know it, but most web hosting companies are owned by larger holding companies. They all compete in different segments of hosting but the same parent company pays the bills. Although this is the future of many the question is whether the time to merger is now. The M&A (mergers and acquisitions) love is back in corporate America but knowing when the time is right has proven to be more difficult than some might think. There are a couple discussions about expansions acquisitions; we expect to learn interesting bits.
7. Battling illegal content on servers
Known fact: the Internet is a safe haven for many illegal distributors. Implication: should hosting companies play censor guardian and be cleaning up the mess? Should they provide hosting to everyone, or police all accounts and turn over those violating local laws? Most likely the latter, as the government can subpoena servers and anything in a data center. HostingCon should address how companies can protect themselves while their users may be violating the law.
8. Offering an API to your customers
Are there any new creative ways to attract customers in the future? Hosting companies make their money through upgrades and additional services. A popular option could be to offer an application programming interface (API) to customers.
9. The implementation of DNSSEC
The domain name system security extensions (DNSSEC) is a set of extensions to the “original” DNS which provides its clients with authentication and data. DNSSEC originates from the Domain Name System and its purpose is to protect the web from attacks (DNS cache poisoning), provide data integrity, and authenticate denial of existence. Five country top level domains implemented DNSSEC while VeriSign announced deployment across all gTLDs within 24 months, and in June the Public Internet Registry signed on with .org. We expect there to be discussions at HostingCon on how ISPs, hosting companies, and domain providers participate in this large project.
10. The future of shared hosting
Hosting has come a long way since the world of Geocities and Altavista. Shared hosting is not perfect, but companies are attempting to make it sexier: more features, better performance. Three “Fix up trends” in the shared hosting segment to notice are resource allocation, policy enforcement and tracking user consumed resources. These are all important if we want to see the shared web hosting segment live on and stay healthy.
With just a couple weeks away, let’s see if any of our predictions hold true. We’ll come back to you in a month with our results.
About the author: David Walsh is an editor, music lover, and hosting geek at WebHostingSearch.com. When David isn’t writing articles about web hosting, you can find him in the kitchen trying to become the new Marco Pierre White. Check out David’s web hosting blog or meet his colleagues at the 2009 HostingCon in Washington.