Niche Market for Web Hosts – Email Hosting
Niche hosting is the new catch word in the Web Hosting industry. Niche Web hosts identify specialized customer groups and customize their plans, provide specific hardware and software configurations and knowledgeable tech support in that niche.
Email Hosting is a Web Hosting niche aimed at Business grade email users and high volume newsletter providers. These are serious customers who use specialized email service as a vital part of their business. Email hosting is different from mainstream web hosting accounts that ‘also’ provide email along with webspace, database, ftp and other services. If I were to pick a $10/month Web Hosting account from the umpteen Web Hosts that are around, I can also get unlimited email accounts along with pop, smtp and more. So what would be different ?
Email hosting companies should provide reliable email services. The fact is that many Web Hosts club webserver, database, email, ftp and more and bundle them into one server. Services take up resources and one service may be affected by the load taken up by another service.
For example the Email service can be affected due to high load caused by the Webserver. There are various scenarios that can cause this. A slashdot effect on someone’s site(maybe your own site) can result in thousands of simultaneous hits and result in the Web server shutting down. The email server cannot effectively deliver or send email when it has so little resources. Email queues up, resulting in delay in getting that crucial email you were waiting for.
In another scenario, a database backup job may result in the server going slow for an hour, affecting the email service.
Email Hosting companies, on the other hand, run only email services on their servers. The fact that there are no other services hogging the same resources, itself improves reliability.
Serious business users prefer to keep email with a specialized Email hosting provider, away from the problems they might face with their website provider. They don’t want to move their email accounts around from one Web Host to another, should they be dissatisfied with any other service.
Email hosting providers allow users to host a domain such as yourdomain.com.
Some Email hosting providers allow customers to host more than one domain on the same email hosting account. For example if you have emails @ yourofficedomain.com, yourhomebusinessdomain.com, yourpersonaldomain.com, you can use one Email Hosting account for all these domains.
As with any Web Hosting niche, disk space and traffic needs to be tailored to the requirement of the niche user. A high storage business email account would allow users to store email in the 5GB range. Anything above 1G per account is standard.
POP3 allows users to download their email on programs like Outlook or Eudora. Business users rarely use webmail any more. POP3 has become a defacto standard, and email users have come to expect it.
Imap allows users to read email using programs like Outlook, without downloading all of them. For example if you receive 100MB of email daily, you may want to quickly browse through them, and download the ones you want to read first.
SMTP allows users to send email through the email server. Some Web Hosts, especially those providing low cost web hosting block this service in order to reduce the incidence of spam. Email Hosting providers on the other hand, install spam reduction tools to allow you to send regular email , but not large volumes of email, which may result in spam.
Special tools like webmail for online viewing of email is also an essential.
A big part of a Email hosting company is the trust that their customers place in them. Niche providers in this space are seen as more secure compared to mainstream hosts. As the servers are dedicated only to email, users do not have to share space with shell users, ftp users or script hackers. There is less chance of a cracking attempt or anyone reading their email.
Better security is achieved by encrypting POP, IMAP and SMTP. This means that if your ISP is compromised, and someone monitors the ports, they would still not be able to read your email because it is encrypted.
Web Hosting control panels like Hsphere, cpanel, plesk and ensim bundle with antispam and antivirus . An email host, however would invest in additional commercial grade Anti virus and Antispam protection. Sophos is a good example of a commercial antispam and antivirus solution.
The success of a good Email host depends largely on how far spam and virus can be filitered. Spam reporting tools are also an essential.
The tech support team should be fully aware of Email hosting issues. Typical issues that come up would do with the kind of tools that a customer would use, like the Web mail, email forwarding, virus and spam protection. The holy grail of the Tech support team would undoubtedly be reliability of the email server.
The best Email host would be reliable, spam/virus free and totally secure.
Sangeetha Naik heads Bobcares.com. She is the co-founder of Poornam Info Vision Ltd., Software and IT services company specializing in Linux based solutions for Webhosts and ISPs. Poornam Info Vision is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company with a team of over 140 engineers.
Sangeetha is a Computer Engineer based in India and has over 7 years of experience in the Hosting industry. Her articles have been published both online as well as in print.