The First Wave - ISP Wave
The first wave of Web hosting started in the middle of 1990s. At the time, there weren't really many web hosting companies. Web hosting was a part of ISP (Internet Service Provider) operation. Within two years, the number of ISPs had grown from a few dozens to a few thousands in United States alone. Many analysts predicated that the consolidation of ISP industry was unavoidable. But the analysts didn't pay much attention to the future of the web hosting. The web hosting clients for ISPs were most small to medium-sized organizations which couldn't offer to have dedicated Internet connection.
The Second Wave - One Plan Hosting Wave
As large telecommunication companies entering into the ISP industry and the prevailing of broadband connection into both commercial and residential buildings, a few leading ISP, such as AOL had grabbed residential users from small ISP companies, and telecommunication companies had stolen or acquired commercial clients from small or regional ISP companies. Because of the economy of scale, ISPs couldn't compete with either AOL, Comcast or Qwest for Internet connection service. Most ISP companies were disappeared as fast as they were emerged.
On the other hand, the growth of the Web has pushed the second wave of web hosting. The web hosting companies offer hosting service at a fraction of cost of what ISPs used to charge. In contrast to the Web hosting service from ISP, which is often customized for each client one way or another, the idea of one hosting plan has helped grow the client base from a few hundreds to hundreds of thousands at few leading hosting companies in a few short years. Todays' web hosting companies don't offer Internet connection service at all. It's unbelievable that early ISP companies had never attempted to transform themselves into web hosting companies to survive the inevitable consolidation of ISP industry.
The Third Wave - Hosting Plan for Users
Seasoned webmasters can easily setup a new website in minutes with one of their preferred hosting companies. Novice webmasters are often confused by the various web hosting plans - affordable web hosting, Cheap Web hosting, ASP Web Hosting, Budget Hosting, Dedicated Servers, eCommerce Hosting, FrontPage Web Hosting, Hosting With Templates, Managed Web Hosting, PHP Web Hosting, Reseller Hosting, Shared Hosting, Unix / Linux Hosting, Virtual Private Servers, Windows Hosting and Co-location Hosting.
The size of the Web will continue to grow exponentially as more and more people join the crow to create their own websites. If web hosting companies do not expect average Joe to understand operating systems, programming languages or variations of web servers, they'll develop the service and sell the hosting plan that'll make sense to average Mary. New web hosting plan will be labeled in terms of what is can do for hosting customers, instead of technical buzzwords.
The Web hosting industry has been enjoying healthy growth as the global economy and IT industry revives. It's too early to see the tide of the third wave in Web hosting right now. If the first and the second wave of Web hosing were pushed by the start of a new economic cycle, the coming of the third wave may not be an exception either.
Copyright @2005, Bruce Zhang
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