Clear Net is about to jump into the Web-site hosting business, with professional and personal hosting services being prepared for launch.
Although some independent ISPs have pursued hosting as an added value for customers, the two telco ISPs have until now not pushed hosting as a business. Xtra introduced Xtra Host, a business service, late last year, but has fewer than 100 accounts — against Ihug’s nearly 4500.
The wariness has at least in part been on security and stability grounds, and Clear Net has drawn fairly tight boundaries for its services. Professional users will not be able to run their own CGI scripts at Clear Net, and will instead have to choose from a library of scripts provided by the ISP itself. Personal users will not be allowed to run any scripts at all.
Registration and set-up of hosting accounts will be available online, as an extension of Clear Net’s existing user management facilities for mail and domain names. The professional service will debut first, to be followed by the personal version several weeks later.
Pricing was not available at time of writing, but professional users will be charged at a monthly rate, with additional charges in increments of 10Mb of storage with a likely traffic limit of around 200Mb per month. Personal account users will probably be limited to 1Mb of storage, with no ability to use their own domains.
“The professional service we’ll start with will give you a set amount of traffic, a set amount of storage and reporting facilities, and there’ll be scripts available,” says Clear Net spokesman Rodney Prescott.
“That’s a basic set of professionally useful services. If you want challenge-response type access, we’ll be adding that later in the year and that will be an additional charge. If you want to roll in commerce facilities, that will be extra too — but we’re not looking at that until next year.”
There are presently no plans to include database access in the hosting service.
“We want to walk before we run,” says Prescott.
“ We won’t do database hosting — we’ll do mail-to forms, so if you want to take information requests and things like that, you can.
Webmasters, who have worked with us on the hosting set-up facilities, have had a couple of real business success stories with just simple mail-to: forms. Commerce is exciting, but you do have to set quite complex relationships in place with banks and do a lot of server-side stuff. That’s something we’ll look at next year.
“We’ll deliver a reliable, simple to use Web hosting service and we think we can attract a larger chunk of the business environment. Once more businesses realise they need to have a domain name, they’ll think, well, what do we do with it? Well, hey, we can give you managed email and a Web-site and you’ll get some business value straight away.”
Xtra spokeswoman Robyn Bern says the company and is always looking at new business options but presently has no plans for a consumer-level Web hosting service.