JSP and Java Web Hosting
For many organizations, Java is still the programming language of choice. It isdynamic, powerful, and highly scalable and can do a variety of things that not all the popular scripting languages can do. With Java, you can write applets or servlets or even run your own Java-based communication server. However, finding hosting for Java and .jsp is getting harder and harder to do as most hosting companies favor either .NET or PHP as the scripting language of choice. In this article we will take a look at some of the requirements of Java and .jsp hosting and look at a couple of companies that offer hosting for these two things.
For Java servlets to work on your page, you must have some kind of Java platform installed on your webserver. Different Java platforms support different things, so the first thing to take into consideration when looking for Java and .jsp hosting is to decide what kind of Java platform you want to build on. Some popular Java platforms are Tomcat(works with Apache), jBoss, the J2EE reference SDK, and Borland server. Platforms come at varying costs ranging from free to tens of thousands of dollars so to start out. I would go with Tomcat. If you are looking for a more extensive list, one can be found here: http://www.javaskyline.com/serv.html
Note the last 3 columns on the right as the version number(s) in those three columns will largely define what is supported and not supported by your Java server. Make sure the version of JSP that you are planning to use is supported by the web host that you are looking at. If you are still not sure or if your Java platform is not listed in the above chart, you need to ask your host’s technical support staff to make sure.
After figuring out the platform, you’ll also want to know which database the host gives its users and the costs associated with the database. Java works with all SQL databases and hosts can offer anything from the free MYSQL database to the incredibly expensive Oracle 10g database. If you are just starting out, you’ll probably want to find a host that supports MYSQL to run with your JSP as MYSQL is free. If you are a complex developer that needs the power of an Oracle enterprise-class database, then look for a host that supports Oracle 10g. If you are looking for an Oracle database, know that hosting with such features can easily range into the hundreds of dollars for a shared plan and even on those plans, the size of the 10g database will have limitations.
Once you have decided on a platform and database to develop JSP on, you need to know the CPU/RAM limits on your host. This only applies for shared hosts as VPS(Virtual Private Server) and Dedicated server customers will not get suspended for resource over-usage. Java is in general more resource intensive than PHP or ASP. Both because of the platform it needs to run on and because the script themselves in general just generate more load. Hosts that offer Java should in general be prepared for this because newbies usually do not use JSP and will opt for something more simple like PHP instead. Because the average JSP user will be more experienced and therefore require more resource usage in terms of CPU/RAM, you should find a host that runs on a Quad-core server with 4GB RAM at a minimum and a host with an average of less than 150 accounts per server on this kind of server. Before buying JSP hosting, take a look at the average server load(if the host provides these details) of a host’s servers and go with a host with a low average server load. A high average server load means thehost is already cramming too many accounts per server and performance will be slow. Make sure to also monitor the hosting company’s uptime before you buy and check for frequency and length of outages in the last month, six months, and over the lifetime of the host. You’ll want a host that can guarantee 99.7% or better uptime and has a track record to prove it.
The last thing(and its a very important thing) is to look for a host that has 24*7 technical support and a phone support line that has around-the-clock staffing. JSP hosts are often hosting critical software components and many times, some of these components will fail either because of a server error or a programmer error. When this happens, there needs to be competent technical support staff on-hand to quickly solve these problems and get the server back online and the applications running again. To find out how technical support staff is at ahosting company, you should go to a large forum like webhostingtalk.com and ask around in the web hosting forums about the host you are interested in. Since there is only a small select group of hosts that offer Java and .jsp hosting, someone will have probably used the host you are thinking of and can give you adequate feedback of their technical support staff. You can also read reviews on hosting review sites to get a feel for the performance of a certain host but since many review sites are owned by the host’s themselves, these reviews can easily be biased. Whatever way you decided to inquire about the technical support, do it thoroughly as this is one of the most important aspects of web hosting that many people tend to ignore when first looking for a host.
Now since we have looked at the different aspects of Java and .jsp hosting, lets look at a few hosts that offer this service:
1. Java Servlet Hosting– Java Servlet Hosting offers jsp hosting on the Apache Tomcat platform and has plans starting at $11.95/month with 150mb space and 5G bandwidth. This plan comes with JSP, 1 MYSQL database, PHP4 with Zend optimizer, PERL 5, SSH/SFTP,Python&C/C++, and bundles more of development choices. Support is handled through a special client Extranet and there servers are hosted in a state-of-the art datacenter. Customer comments about this host are varied with some saying that they are great and some saying that their customer service has a really bad attitude toward customers. From this it sounds like their servers are stable and users don’t generally run into any problems but the support is not that helpful if they do run into problems.
2. Visionwebhosting– Vision web hosting offers .jsp hosting on a Tomcat platform and has regular plans starting at $4.00/month that includes 5GB space and 50GB monthly bandwidth. Along with the plan come MYSQL 5 databases, your choice of PHP 5 or 4, different JDK versions, and several other options for developers. They have 24/7 technical support and promise a one hour response time to questions. Most reviews about Vision Web by former customers state that this host has trouble with downtime, technical support, and a bad habit of not updating Tomcat. Their plans are very cheap for Java hosting, but this is probably not the host I would go with.
3. Servlets.net– Serverlets.net offers Java hosting that is run on the Resin platform with JDK 1.4.1. This JSP host is more expensive than the others with packages starting a $25/month for a measly 25MB space and 1GB of bandwidth. The largest account they have for JSP hosting is $125/month and comes with 200mb space and 4GB bandwidth. All accounts come with an unique IP address but MYSQL databases are only available starting on the $100/month or above plans. Java, Perl, and C are also offered with the plans as well as SFTP and SSH access. Technical support is handled via email. This seems to be a fairly small host that only hosts around 100 domains and no customer reviews can be found for this company. Use at your own risk.
4. Webhostingjava– Web hosting Java offers Java hosting under the Tomcat platform and has plans starting at $8/month with 5GB space and 50GB bandwidth. They offer MYSQL and Post SQL databases but only on their $25/month or higher plans. PHP and PERL are also offered with all their plans as is CGI-BIN access. SSH is offered on the $25/month or higher plan as well. There are no reviews for this host however the CSS design on the plan’s page of their site isn’t quite designed right so I would be carefully when looking for opinions on their service. There are however, several support staff on hand that can be reached via email, ICQ,or MSN at any time(I have not tried myself).
So, as you can see, finding quality JSP hosting a not easy as most of the big players in web hosting do not offer it since demand is not very high. You will really have to comb and search for good JSP hosting in order to find a host you like. In the end, you may find it best to get a managed dedicated server and install a Tomcat server yourself.