Before you open up that server sitting in your back office to the Internet, stop for a moment and think about your goals. Here are a few questions that you may want to ask yourself:
How critical is this server for supporting your business?
How much traffic do you expect on your server?
Do you need to support the server 24 hours per day, 365 days per year?
Do you know enough to maintain and secure your server?
Can you get the connection speed that you require at a reasonable cost for your location?
Do you need special equipment to keep the server running, such as an uninterruptible power supply?
What I'm getting at here is that maintaining a public server requires some resources. If the server is critical to your business and in high demand, you may not have the time or expertise to support this server yourself. Also, if no high-speed Internet access is available to your location, even a well-configured server may not have the bandwidth to support your clients.
Tons of places are ready and willing to host your Web content. The number gets a bit smaller, however, if you need to find a place that can help you maintain your Red Hat Linux server. In that case, you want to find a company that offers dedicated hosting (that is, gives you control of an entire server) or permits you to co-locate your server on its premises. In either case, you want to make sure that your server:
Is physically secure.
Can access enough Internet bandwidth.
Has someone there if the server goes down.
You can use such a hosting provider in these ways and still use Red Hat Linux as your server:
Co-locate your server at a hosting provider or ISP. In this arrangement, you can get lots of bandwidth and retain your root privileges so that you can still maintain the server yourself. The downside is that the provider probably isn't expected to fix your server if a hardware failure occurs.
"Rent" a server (at a place such as Rackspace.com), where you get the bandwidth and someone to fix the hardware (which that organization often puts together and maintains) if something goes wrong.
Although this setup probably costs more money, the added support and security may prove well worth it. In either of the preceding cases, where the server resides at the hosting provider, you can also expect that service to include such extras as the use of its DNS service. (In other words, after you register a domain name and sign up with the hosting service, you can probably skip the rest of this chapter.)