Let’s face it, a business hardly exists today unless it has an Internet presence – a website, email, blog, etc. Many business owners simply find a friendly party to set it up, but often end up with a mis-match with what they thought they wanted, and what was actually provided. In the remainder of this article we attempt to demystify and clarify what is actually needed to have an Internet presence today.
What’s in a Name
The first requirement is a domain name. This is a globally-unique name that identifies you and your company anywhere in the world. A typical name may be mycompany.com, or you may choose something to indicate your geographical marketplace, such us mycompany.asia, or mycompany.sg, or you may choose all three!
Once you have decided on a name, you need to arrange with a Domain Registrar to register this name in the global namespace – of course after checking that no-one else has already registered it.
For this service you will pay the Domain Registrar an annual fee to maintain your name. If you stop, your domain name becomes inactive, and all your Internet resources cease to be available. While your registration is current, you own this name, and no-one can take it away from you.
Beware of registering through an intermediary that registers themselves as the owner instead of yourself.
Note here that the ‘www’ usually used for your website address is not part of your domain name.
The Registrar is responsible for telling the world where your Internet services may be found, be they website, email or other. The Registrar does this by pointing the world to your DNS Hoster – where the actual records of your various Internet services are carried.
The Domain Name System
The Domain Name System (DNS) is critical to people being able to find your Internet resources. When it does not work as in this incident, your services are also impacted. For that reason a minimum of two DNS servers are required, and preferably located geographically separate in case one becomes unavailable.
Your DNS Hoster is a separate service (from your Domain registrar) that you must also subscribe to to maintain your Internet presence.
Once both of these are in place, you are ready to create/publish your Internet resources.
Your Internet Resources
For simplicity, we will concentrate here on the two most common Internet resources in use ie: a website and email.
Regardless of whether you have a simple one-page site, or a complicated, multi-page site with shopping cart, eCommerce, blog, you need to engage yet another party to design and build your site.
For very simple sites, you might choose to do it yourself, or use one of the many templated methods to do this, such as WordPress, Drupal and many, many more.
Regardless of which method you use, you must then engage yet another party to host your website for you. Once you do this, you will update your DNS Hoster with the appropriate records so that people can find your website.
You will probably choose to name your site ‘www’ but this is a matter of personal choice – you could call it website.mycompany.com, or abc.mycompany.com. We recommend you stick with ‘www’ as this is the globally accepted name.
As with your website, you now need to locate yet another partner to set up and host your email. If you have more than a handful of staff, you may choose to do this in-house – as many organisations do for control, security, compliance and other reasons. Once done you again need your DNS Hoster to update their records so the world can send you emails. Please see our detailed article on the intricacies of email for further information.
Putting It All Together
Now, anyone can find your website, by simply typing www.mycompany.com into their browser address bar. This begins a search in the DNS Namespace commencing at the top (the root), and navigating down till your registered name is discovered. Once found, a lookup is done at your DNS Hoster to find the IP address of the server where your website is physically hosted. Finally, this address is returned to the browser, which then goes and GETS the website content for display on their device.
Well that’s about it! Many people assume that the above independent components are all one and the same, and indeed, many providers will do this for you as a one-stop shop, making the simplest deployments very easy and simple to understand.
However, as your business grows, and you have more complex needs, it often makes sense to use different providers for each component of your Internet presence.
If you need any of the above services, of course PASR can provide all as a package, or any one or more components as needed.