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How to pick a servlet hosting company: Servlet installation and logistical issues

There are a couple of "logistical" considerations. An advantage of some servlet hosting plans is that they make explicit how exactly to install servlets, and give you the tools to check that you are within their resource limits:

  • check that they give clear instructions on how to install servlets: which location to transfer files to, and what the URL of the installed servlet will be;
  • a company with support information such as an on-line forum or documents detailing how to set up database access from your servlet would be a bonus;
  • check that they have a clear policy on what they count as "fair use" in terms of CPU and memory usage that your servlets are allowed to consume, and that they actually provide a tool for you to check the resources you are using.

The last point is particularly important. Beware of hosting sharks who: (a) impose very low limits, such as a maximum of 1% CPU usage and a pitiful memory allocation; (b) reserve the right to disable your server without notice if you go over the limit; (c) don't actually provide a tool for you to check if you are near or over the limit. If your servlet is for any serious use, do not pick a company that cannot give you an unequivocal answer to these issues. A decent provider should not randomly disable your account or servlets without prior notice, and should provide you with the necessary tools to monitor your resource usage. Ideally, they should also provide you with a means of purchasing more resources as necessary.

Remember that moving hosting company later will waste time, will probably leave your ste down for a period, and may incur extra development costs as there will inevitably be parts of your servlet written to the specific configuration of the account you're using. For example:

  • means of accessing databases is likely to be different on a new system;
  • the configuration of the new company may have their servlet container configured differently (e.g. one may resolve host names but another not)– so certain features you rely on in one environment may not be available in another.

In other words, choosing a restrictive plan to save a few dollars a month may prove costly in the long run. I know because I've made this mistake in the past.

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Written by Neil Coffey. Copyright © Javamex UK 2008. All rights reserved.