I was induced to rethink web hosting while chasing Aegir - a hosting management system for the Content Management System (CMS) Drupal. While you may crack open a book on the basis of its cover, It is the first few seconds of the reading experience that hook you into reading more. If that first few seconds is a repeat of the last experience, you may be inclined to say "I've read that book before" and put it away. Drupal enables website owners to keep that experience fresh, like reading a book again for the first time.
Drupal is huge. Thousands of contributed modules, some of which do interesting things. The core is relatively well maintained and secure but new versions emerge about once each month which enhance functionality or improve security. Contributed modules are less volatile individually but collectively they present a maintenance burden even greater than the core. The total burden can be daunting to a website owner and hosting companies can choose to bear part or all of that burden on behalf of their customers. Aegir was produced by one of those companies - Bryght - to assist in that task. A great idea in principle but not enough to keep them in the marketplace. LSNet has struggled with the same issue without benefit of a hosting management super-system.
But the problem doesn't end there. What ever level of effort is required to deploy and maintain a content managed website, it pales compared to the problem of getting content development into the work-flow of the website owners. The great hope is that the means to develop content will lead to the desire to actually do so. So how does a hosting provider encourage the cultivation of desire on the part of website owners?
The big kids are still working this out too, among them Acquia Gardens and Fields and Lullabot has based their existence on training and consulting, WorkHabit does it on the basis of Amazon EC2, HotDrupal on an eclectic mix of Virtual Private Servers and shared hosting.,
As one of the little kids, LSNet needs to evolve. We are too determined to just go away. Our access business is prompting changes to our backhaul structure which may lead to keeping servers in Galax but the cloud is awefully appealing.