In a session on Thursday afternoon at World Hosting Days, Kenan Rappuchi, director, business development and channel partnerships, WebsiteMovers, talked about how web hosts can use migration to expand their customer base and compete with other web hosts.
Rappuchi defines migration services as a full-cycle relocation and reimplementation of all hosted data and web services.
There are several ways to do migrations, including imaging/mirroring, but this needs the appropriate infrastructure. Hosting control panels have migration utilities as well.
It is important for web hosts to decide how they want to offer migration services. Rappuchi says a lot of web hosts have the technical expertise on staff that could do it, or they could work with a partner like WebsiteMover. The third option is to do a blended approach.
“Presenting the migration is best done when the business arrangement has already been solidified,” Rappuchi says.
He suggests not to use the migration as a sticking point, but as an enabling point to bring a customer to a new environment.
To ensure the customer is clear about how the migration works, it is essential for web hosts to address all the specifics including availability requirements, timing and ensure the staff has lead time to perform the migration.
Web hosts need to perform a thorough test at the migrated environment prior to syncing services to make sure things are working properly and the source is staying online.
Rappuchi says that infrastructure is fairly consistent, but no two applications are alike, so it’s all about making sure the apps work when migrating the site.
Post-migration support is equally as important, so planning for contingencies is crucial. Web hosts need to make sure they are available for support.
Since customers have unique levels of understanding and different fears, transparent communication is key. WebsiteMovers uses Basecamp to facilitate transparent communication with the hosting provider, third party app providers and data center providers.
Web hosts can use migration services to differentiate themselves, as well as bring in new customers. One of the WebsiteMover hosting partners offers its migration services for free to customers to gain a competitive advantage. It also uses the free migration services for marketing.
The thing that web hosting providers need to help their customers understand about migration is it is imminent – everything has a lifecycle.
“It has to happen, hardware and applications don’t last forever,” he says. “Understanding that migrations are an inherent part of our business is the first point of understanding how to leverage it.”