I’ve come a long way from Yahoo hosted sites in 2004. At the time my colleagues were impressed with how fast I was able to come up with such a “professional website” for what was then called Research 2.0. It didn’t take long to realize that Yahoo was all proprietary and inflexible so something more general purpose and open was called for.
Fast forward to today and even a small company like mine relies on a web of specialized hosting providers. I’ve found LiquidWeb to be a pretty solid general purpose host. There are plenty of alternatives and flavors but we’ve used them for a decade now and the performance, value and support are solid. But the AWS from Amazon is a force too powerful to ignore and we started using it for serving all “heavy content” like PDF files. It might also be hosting our IPO Candy video collection but we’re also looking at companies like Wistia for that.
Synthesis has become our host for the WordPress component of our content. Why? Because I’m tired of managing individual upgrades themes and plugins. Although we are building a new backend that will be hosted on a regular server it will still make sense for this front-end system to stay on a specialized hosting platform like Synthesis. WordPress offers their own enterprise hosting but it’s very expensive.
I have to wonder why nobody has figured out how to combine all these hosted services into one modular yet integrated and effective package. When you add commerce features like subscriptions (in our case) or sales the idea of having a single solution is pretty attractive.
At one end of the spectrum you have hosting providers like LiquidWeb where you have to put it together yourself. There are hosted services like Wix and WordPress.com and the like but they all lack the flexibility and specific features to build a business site that is in any way unique. As soon as you want to do one thing they don’t support you’re stuck.
It’s why soon I’ll be dealing with another host. To build something *really* interesting you need to push the envelope. One of my favorite new platforms is Meteor which we are building on now. Over time maybe everything we do will be on that platform but I’m not sure that’ll make sense. After all content ranges from the social (tweets, pictures, comments) to long-form content, collections of links, PDF objects and videos. They all need to stored and served effectively from somewhere and wrapped in contextual services like user access control, commerce and personalization. It’s not so simple.
Software has always been an intensely creative thing. Now that has morphed into a combination of programming and a web of online services. Much has been written about the API but that’s very much on the programming side of things. Weaving together a combination of insightful code with other services is the challenge of the day.