What makes a good e-commerce hosting platform
The world of e-commerce hosting is rather crowded, but despite what many web hosts like to praise in their promotional materials, there’s a specific set of features that every e-commerce store needs. They are:
- PCI compliance. Without PCI compliance, you can’t process your customers’ credit card data. Crucial for nearly all online stores.
- Dedicated IP and an SSL certificate. Without an SSL and a dedicated IP address, you won’t be able to authenticate your store on the web.
- Uptime / server tier. The best data centers are Tier 4. This effectively means that they offer the best uptime. On the opposite end are Tier 1 servers. The equation is simple, you don’t want downtime because downtime means lost profits.
- Good server specs. A fast web server will deliver your site quickly and handle more customers in a given period of time. In other words, good server specs = more sales.
- Data center location. If the data center is closer to your audience’s location, your online store will load quicker for them.
- Good security mechanisms and policies. Security is often the be-all-end-all of e-commerce stores. Remember that you’re dealing with your customers’ personal and financial data. For that, you need good server security.
Rackspace e-commerce hosting review: in a nutshell
There are two main hosting types available with Rackspace:
1. Dedicated hosting.
Just like any dedicated hosting platform on the web, the rules are simple: you get a whole web server to yourself, and you get to do whatever you wish with it. When it comes to the details, there are two tiers of dedicated servers available with Rackspace:
- Rapid Development Dedicated Servers. Those are a kind of “pick from our catalog” servers. In this scenario, you get four servers to choose from, each with different specs. The idea is that if you need your online store launched fast, you simply pick a server that best suits your needs, and launch your project right away, without customizing the machine. ($674-$1199 / month.)
- Customized Dedicated Servers. In this scenario, you get to customize your servers and hardware components to get a setup that meets your specific needs perfectly. ($750-$1300 / month.)
2. Cloud hosting.
With cloud hosting, you get scalable servers in quality data centers, which can take whatever traffic load you throw at them. Here you also get two types of hosting:
- Public Cloud. Great cloud hosting option that’s easy to get started with and easy to grow with – there’s a nice portfolio of scalable hosting solutions. For instance, in that portfolio, you find things like: cloud CDN, cloud monitoring, cloud databases, cloud DNS, cloud orchestration, SSD drives, and more. (Pricing based on your specific configuration.)
- Private Cloud. As Rackspace puts it: “Private clouds offer the power, efficiency, and features of a public cloud, with the security, control, and performance of a dedicated environment.” It’s surely an optimized and highly advanced hosting solution, but also a lot more expensive. We’re not going to get into it in this review.
Features in Rackspace e-commerce hosting
Here’s what you get with Rackspace hosting for e-commerce:
- SSL certificates and dedicated IPs available through Rackspace, but not included out the gate.
- PCI compliance.
- Hugely powerful servers: 24GB-128GB of RAM, from 1×6 to 4×8 core CPUs, 2x300GB of disk space (all run on SSDs).
- Configurable servers – you can go with the exact specs you need, instead of picking something from the shelf.
- Scale on demand – you can create simple rules to automatically grow and shrink your setup as needed.
- 24x7x365 support by phone, chat, and email.
- 100% production uptime – meaning that your store is always going to be available to your customers.
- Data centers in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
- Great security features and mechanisms to keep your e-commerce store safe.
Who’s Rackspace e-commerce hosting best suited for?
Due to Rackspace’s advanced dedicated solutions and cloud hosting solutions, it’s likely not a platform for online stores that are just starting out.
There are no shared hosting plans and no simplified VPS plans. However, it’s hard to call that a flaw. Rackspace is simply a great solution for e-commerce stores planning to operate at scale.
Also, Rackspace is one of the few hosting providers perfect for a Magento store. They have more than 6,000 Magento deployments and more managed Magento deployments than any other web host. Rackspace is also the winner of the Spirit of Excellence award at Imagine 2015.
In short, when all put together, Rackspace is probably the best hosting platform to house your online store if it’s built with Magento.
Apart from Magento, Rackspace is also ready to host your WordPress/WooCommerce online store, but you’ll probably find other, more cost-effective solutions for that from other web hosting providers (like WP Engine, for example).
Rackspace e-commerce hosting review: pricing
There are three pricing scenarios available with Rackspace. However, there’s no simplified pricing table for all of them, so let’s take each model one by one.
1. Dedicated servers.
Here are the options available for Rapid Deployment Dedicated Servers:
And here are the options for Customizable Dedicated Servers:
In this model you can “rent” server resources on a pay-as-you-go basis. Rackspace offers various different setups here, based on what you need the server for (e.g. general purposes, optimized for computing, etc.). For general purpose servers, we have:
Finally, the most interesting pricing model with Rackspace – their interactive calculator.
Here you can add individual items to your server one by one. Rackspace will process that data, and return with a hosting plan suggestion tailor-made to suit your needs.
The final price you get can be anything from $80 / month and up.
How to set up Rackspace e-commerce hosting
Rackspace has a very friendly sign-up procedure and server configuration. Basically, they take you by the hand through each step of the process, and ask certain questions along the way … all so they can offer you a server that’s exactly what you need.
During sign-up, they will ask about your:
- current host (if you have an existing e-commerce store),
- your role in the project (developer, admin, project manager, etc.),
- what are the most important qualities of a web host for you,
- how much traffic you expect to have,
- what’s your growth expectation,
- and finally, what platform you’re going to be using (the software that runs your e-commerce store).
At the end of this, you will get a personalized offer and setup from Rackspace. The company also offers migration services, and their support works round the clock.
Review conclusion – is Rackspace e-commerce hosting the right host for your e-commerce store?
Pros of Rackspace e-commerce hosting
Really powerful machines that will be able to handle any load of traffic.
Web host optimized for Magento.
24x7x365 support by phone, chat, and email.
Data centers in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Cons of Rackspace e-commerce hosting
Very expensive, likely too expensive for e-commerce stores that are just starting out.