Just when the Web hosting industry seemed more stable and entrenched than ever, announcements last week by Google, Microsoft and Amazon gave an official stamp of approval to the technological shift that is about to send it all swirling down the drain, and the specialist WordPress hosts may be the first disappear.
Web hosting has always been the bastard child of the I.T. industry. In the early days, any idiot sitting in his bedroom with a computer and a dial-up Internet connection could copy and paste together a professional-looking website featuring photos of tall server racks, arranged in reassuring rows, in a mysteriously white room, possibly a nuclear bunker.
Even if he was the smallest link in the long chain of guys slicing, dicing and reselling server space, stretching all the way up to the guy who had actually rented the server from the datacenter, the art of being a Web host was to present yourself to the world as if you were IBM.
As soon as you got your tiny slice of space, you could divide that sucker up and sell the fragments on to as many customers as possible. That was always the key point: selling. Regardless of their actual capacity, every Web host would offer miraculous $10 plans which included unlimited resources and, if more customers turned up than expected, you simply crammed them all into the same space. If anyone complained you would kick them out: even vaguely knowledgeable customers were simply not worth the trouble.