In this tutorial, you will learn more about Episerver DXP previously known as DXC. DXP is a service Episerver provides to host your website. Nowadays, web hosting is predominantly moving towards the cloud. Episerver, as a company, is usually on the ball when it comes to new tech trends and cloud computing is no different. You do not need to use Episerver's hosting to host an Episerver website. You have options. The three main hosting options; are:
- Self-hosting (traditional approach)
- Cloud hosting
- Episerver's own offering, the Episerver digital experience (DXP).
A lot of companies I've spoken with are struggling to decide how to host their EpiServer project. Traditionally, a website was hosted on a dedicated server either internally or through a third-party provider like RackSpace. With the release of Azure and DXP, the game has changed. Maybe the traditional approach isn't right for you anymore. If you find yourself in this situation, then the aim of today's post is to cover some of the pro's and con's of each host option so you can make an informed decision about what is right for you ️🔥️🔥️🔥
In a traditional hosting environment, a company pays for a server that they own and host themselves. The website files and/or database live on the server and people within the organisation (devs/IT) have access to the box. The internal team are responsible for installing software, patching servers, and keeping the lights running. In essence, the internal team can do whatever they want. This flexibility comes at a cost, the main ones being:
Scaling Issues If you have a sudden surge in traffic, it may take hours/days/weeks for you to get a new server up and running
Server Costs: To deal with the load you need a fast and expensive server. If you run a single website instance on a server, most of the time the resources of the server will be sat waiting for things to do. If you have a very low volume of traffic then you'll be burning money on processing power that you may never need.
People Costs When hosting a server, your company needs will need people with IT skills to maintain/back up and manage the servers. Most of the time you need two people. What happens when your only IT resources go on holiday? It will also take your team time to maintain the server. Time = Money!
A traditional hosting model isn't all bad... the benefit of using Episerver with traditional hosting include:
Control: You have complete control over the server. You can install security software and any other software you need.
Better Capabilities: You can install whatever reporting, debugging and sale software you require on the server
Known Costs: Regardless of how busy your website is, your monthly maintenance costs will be the same.
In recent years, a lot of companies have heavily invested in cloud architecture. Dev-op jobs are becoming more in demand. In cloud architecture, your website is hosted in a data centre, hosted and managed by someone else (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Rackspace). Instead of having a dedicated box that your company purchases and manages, your website lives on a virtual server or a web app that you rent out on a per needed basis. The advantages of this hosting are:
Web App Haves Limited Access: Most virtual web apps will not allow you to install custom software on them. This can be a positive thing. Not cluttering or containing your severs will other software can help you develop more robust servers that are less likely to go down due to other issues
Scalability: As web apps are cut down applications, they are much easier to scale up and down depending. Unlike traditional hosting where you have to create or delete servers, as the traffic to your website changes a web app can be scaled by the cloud hosting company based on rules.
Automatic: In the cloud, your virtual server or web app still lives on a physical server. These servers are fully managed for you, Anything like Windows updates, anti-virus, firewall upgrades are done without you needing to worry about it. These tasks can be done with zero downtime to your site!
Cloud hosting will not be a good fit for all companies. The main issues that the companies I have worked with have had against cloud computing tend to be either:
Data Lives Outside Your Organisation: For some companies, this is a no-no
Not Enough Control Azure web apps will allow you to host an application and nothing else. If your infosec team require security software to be run on your server, this could rule some options out.
Episerver Digital Experience Cloud Service (DXC)
As DXC is still quite a new offering, I think there is still quite a lot of confusion in the EpiServer community about what exactly DXC has to offer. I started off thinking it was Azure with some managed support, but after talking with David Knipe from EpiSEerver, I've learnt more about the service).
The idea behind DXC is that it's an Episerver hosting solution that has everything a company needs to host an enterprise-level website included. You get a license to use EpiFind, Cloud Flare CDN support, Firewall, Azure hosting, New Relic support, SSL certificates and upcoming products like the new A/B features, EpiServer Insights and personalisation will be bundled in automatically without you having to worry.
DXC pricing is based on traffic, page hits and performance and as Episerver is handling more of your IT load, the costs are higher than hosting a solution in Azure and managing everything else in-house. Like Epi-Find the number of content items you have, the number of page views will all determine how much your monthly cost is. If you have limited in-house Episerver and IT infrastructure skills, DXC is a good option as you get a lot of hand-holding that many companies traditionally haven't wanted to deal with. The benefit of Using EpiServer With DXC
Compliance: As the client (or dev team), has no direct access to live) also tends to ring nicely in the ears of organisations under compliance checks. Add auto-scaling in and it plays nicely with anyone who ever runs a campaign too Like using Everweb.. but on steroids
Access To Everything You Need: The service comes with three environments and all the licenses you need to host a site using Episerver.
24/7 Support: Access to a 24/7 support desk
Setup Using Best Practices: Episerver will set up the production configurations based on the learnings from lots of clients. They will understand how to best host a site based on these experiences.
Scaling: Useful if you have sudden spikes in traffic
There are some downsides of DXP and like most options it might not be a good fit for everyone;
No access to the server: Will need to implement new ways and customization work in order to log and read application errors.
Extra Costs: If you are not planning on using Episerver Find you're paying for a service you are not using
Perceived costs: As more services are managed for you, the perceived costs are higher than managing it in-house
If you're reading this, then I'm hoping you can see which hosting option is the best can't be answered. Every company will have different digital objectives, different in-house capabilities, and budgets. All of these will factor into which solution is right for them. Personally, I like the offering of DXC and the thought of having everything done for me simplifies my life and lets me concentrate on the things I care about.. creating cool digital products.
If a company has a large IT infrastructure support for other business-critical services, then this might be less appealing than a small company in an attic. For me, the main choice depends on the level of control and management you want to have over your website. If you have to have access to a box to install specialist software on then your options might be limited. In most of these cases, though, a look at the architect can usually help. DXC isn't the cheapest option, but then again, that's not what it's designed for. Like anything, you pay for the quality of the server and it's up to you to decide what you want to offload externally and what you want to manage internally. Happy Coding 🤘