Running a web agency is hard work, to put it very mildly. Balancing the competing demands of multiple clients, each one with their own very specific needs and expectations, is no mean feat. From designing websites to ongoing maintenance and support services, the web hosting technology used by agencies is a critical factor in their long-term success.blu

But what kind of solutions do agencies actually use? What are the main features that agencies look for in a hosting provider? And what are the benefits for agencies upgrading to the latest cloud platform? At Fasthosts, we’ve spoken to several of our agency customers to find out.

Features and performance

First and foremost, agencies need online services that meet the requirements of their clients. Whether that means web hosting, servers, email or domain registration, it’s vital to find a provider that can deliver the services that clients expect.

Cardiff-based creative agency Spindogs selected Fasthosts as a hosting partner, in part because of the full range of web-based solutions on offer. As Spindogs server admin Steve Tozer explains: ‘When I joined and discovered Spindogs used Fasthosts as a server provider, I thought “this is great”, as I knew they provided everything from domain names to cloud servers’. Spindogs currently runs 14 Fasthosts servers to meet a variety of client requirements.

bluebox is a digital services company established in 2002, offering a full range of services including award-winning web design, as well as ecommerce solutions, digital marketing and bespoke software development. As such, they needed a hosting provider to deliver a wide array of solutions, not least a reliable platform to power client projects.

Managing director Richard Cullen describes the benefits bluebox experienced when the agency moved client applications and ecommerce sites onto Fasthosts’ newest cloud platform: ‘The hardware with this platform is better… and we’ve seen network speeds going up by a factor of 10’. Richard also noted how Fasthosts provided an excellent choice of the latest server operating systems – crucial to ensuring advanced functionality for clients.

Formed in 2008, Orantec specialises in web design, software development and SEO. With their own content management system built in-house, the team needed a high-spec server solution that could scale from basic websites for small start-ups, all the way up to complex ecommerce sites for established global players.

Fasthosts was able to deliver this in a complete, easily-manageable package, with Orantec director Richard Griffiths commenting: ‘Dealing with Fasthosts is easy… from the control panel to having all core services in one place’.

Flexibility and scalability

Web agencies need to react to their clients’ needs. As time goes on and the client base evolves, many agencies find themselves building and maintaining larger, more complex projects. This means that hosting needs to keep pace with growth, both in terms of the agency itself, and the performance requirements for ever-expanding client demands.

Richard at bluebox notes how Fasthosts technology has allowed the agency to tailor services for the exact business needs of each client and ‘has made the applications and large ecommerce websites we build for our clients more scalable’. At Spindogs, Technical Director David Morgan explains how ‘as we grew, there was no impact to our clients when it came to upgrading the kit’.

On the latest Fasthosts cloud hosting platform, managing upgrades couldn’t be simpler. There’s no need to switch packages or even restart servers, it’s just a case of adding processor, RAM and SSD storage resources. New configurations are ready to use immediately, with no downtime, and no disruption to clients. And if you need to scale out whole new virtual machines or managed software stacks, these can be deployed in as little as 55 seconds.

Specialised server management software can take a lot of the pain out of running client websites, as David at Spindogs discovered when he signed up with Fasthosts: ‘it was revolutionary to have a management layer on top of our servers so that we didn’t need to log directly into the servers and could do all of the tinkering ourselves. This was hugely helpful when there was only four or five of us and we didn’t have the in-house server expertise’.

Currently, Fasthosts offers both cPanel and Plesk control panel options on all servers, making it far easier for agencies to manage multiple client projects across multiple machines. On our CloudNX platform, you also have access to our own intuitive cloud control panel, which enables the management of all virtualised services, from managed stacks to whole servers, all from one central location.

Security and support

When dealing with clients’ data, security is always a top priority. Clients need reassurance that their data is housed in a secure environment, making a trusted hosting provider absolutely essential.

By choosing a hosting partner with secure, UK-based data centres, agencies can guarantee maximum peace of mind, both for themselves and for their clients. Spindogs’ David recalls how ‘It was also really important to us that we picked a UK data centre. It was important that we knew exactly where our customer’s data lived online’.

As well as a choice of UK and international data centres, the Fasthosts CloudNX platform provides agencies with enterprise-level security. With private network, firewall and VPN features, agencies can ensure top levels of security for client applications, while Managed Stacks and Applications provide automatic security patching for the underlying stack components, with no server admin required.

Another major consideration is web hosting specifically geared towards agencies. The Fasthosts Reseller platform not only gives excellent discounts, but also provides dedicated technical support across all Fasthosts services, specialised to the needs of agencies.

As Richard at bluebox comments: ‘We really value the UK-based data centre, account managers and reseller/server support teams offered by Fasthosts. They really know their stuff and they are always happy to help or advise on the myriad of services that are available’.

For agencies like bluebox, Orantec and Spindogs, and many more besides, Fasthosts is an established partner for a full range of online solutions, helping to ensure successful projects, happy clients and continued growth. Whatever web-based services your agency offers, from simple websites to custom software development, domain registration to advanced SEO, we have the right platform. For more details, get in touch today.