SSL Site owners using ISPs rather than Hosting Companies

Companies servicing the largest
numbers of SSL sites, August 2003
Company SSL Sites
uu.net 6,950
verio.net 4,243
ATT 4,019
Interland 3,946
Cable and Wireless 3,038
Qwest 2,908
Sprint 2,787

Self hosting is still a popular option for SSL site owners whose sites perform encrypted transactions and ecommerce. When counted by reverse DNS, the largest aggregations of SSL sites are on networks at companies whose main business is selling connectivity rather than hosting.

Of the top seven providers, only Interland is exclusively a hosting provider, although Verio is best known for hosting and all of the others have significant hosting operations. Interland's early focus on the mid-market and the Windows platform, which is favoured by many internet retail sites, has helped create its position as the leading hosting location for encrypted transactions.


There are many tradeoffs for sites performing ecommerce and encrypted transactions to consider when considering self-hosting against colocation or a managed service.

  • If the bandwidth required by the site is more than a given threshold [different for each geographical location] there will likely be a significant cost benefit to external hosting.
  • Hosting centres will nearly always have more reliable power and routing than a non Internet infrastructure company will have
  • Self hosting is more convenient and easier to secure, and best utilises existing infrastructure

The argument that usually carries the day is that hosting the site internally is more convenient, easier to secure, and puts the site in the same place as the fulfilment function. Over time it is likely that more and more encrypted transactions sites will be externally hosted, and for very busy sites where the bandwidth and reliability requirements are significant, and for small sites which involve one or a few computers, and have little in the way of fulfilment infrastructure, external hosting is likely to be attractive.

Rackshack.net, which is not yet large enough to be included in the table, is growing very quickly by concentrating on these smaller sites. It is currently growing at around 10% month on month, and has recently launched a Windows hosting offering, and commenced selling SSL certificates at the deeply discounted price of $25, both of which will significantly increase its profile with the small to mid-market ecommerce companies, and it is very likely to be within the top five a year from now.