Self-Hosted vs Cloud Hosted Forum Solution
There are lots of self-hosted solutions one can try: PHPBB, MyBB, BuddyPress, SimpleMachines and even a copy of our own open source forum software. You can also opt for some non-free self-hosted solutions, like vBulletin or Xenforo. While these other solutions are okay, I think if you are serious about your business, you need to consider a cloud based solution. I'll go more into those reasons so you can make an informed decision, but also so you can understand why Vanilla Forums is the best SAAS or Cloud-based solution for your business.
Isn't A Cloud Hosted Vanilla Forum Just Self-Hosted on Your Server?
Let's tackle the major elephant in the room. Some think our Vanilla Forums hosted solution is just the open source version, on our own servers. Of course, a copy of Vanilla Forums is on our server, but it's more than that. Our cloud product shares much of the same core code as the open source solution (OSS), but it's a different product built in a way to take advantage of powerful, specialized servers. For example, some processes we run would bring your average discount hosting service to its knees. Unlike other solutions, who have to make a product that has to work on (for example) on both a PC and a Dell Power Edge server, we control the hardware to give you and your users an optimal experience.
For those that want to learn more about our specialized setup, Tim our Director of Operations has a great post going into further detail: "What’s so great about Hosted Vanilla?". In short, their are numerous features we offer our hosted customers because the infrastructure offers us these abilities. This includes taking advantage of multiple database, CDN's (content delivery networks), an awesome forum search as well as ensuring our hosted customers have world class stability and speed for their forum.
What Are The Reasons For Going Cloud?
Maybe you are using Vanilla Forums self-hosted, or one of our competitors, but I want to share with you just a few reasons you might switch or migrate to a cloud-based solution such as ours.
If your site has ever been run over by spam to the point you wanted to pull your hair out, going hosted will save your follicles. We use industry leading spam stopping techniques that will keep your forum clean, so real humans can have discussions, not bots selling time-shares in Acapulco.
You have better uses of your time than finding a host that works with the software you selected. Think about it. Do you want to worry about setup, protecting directories, choosing the right hardware and even worrying about getting the install working? What if the self-hosted version of your forum goes down? Who is watching this for you? Who are you going to call? Is your IT expert enough to figure it out?
Hand in hand with avoiding server issues, comes the benefit of real support from our team. With a self-hosted version, you are on your own. Well maybe not completely alone. You rely on the kindness of strangers or Google search. With our hosted solution you have access to the people that built the software. This guarantees a resolution to your issue. Furthermore, the plugins in our hosted version are supported by our team. We also take care of upgrades and backups so you don't need to worry about running outdated software. Something that gets forgotten when people opt for self-hosted solutions is ownership of ongoing maintenance. Who in your organization will stay up to date with upgrades and patches? Most times, when a site is hacked, it's because it was vulnerable. The main reason for this vulnerability is because somewhere along the line, someone got lax about upgrading their software to the latest branch. Vanilla hosted takes away all those issue, so you can focus on what matters most -- building your community.
Focus On Your Community
Chances are if you are reading this, you are still debating whether you should go for a hosted solution or not. The simplest argument I can make for opting for a hosted solution is the following: You are not in the forum hosting business. Your goal is to create an amazing forum or community for your customers or like-minded enthusiasts. It's not to worry about servers, spam or support. It's to keep customers happy, to increase your brand loyalty, to have more meaningful or engaged discussions, or maybe generate more leads for your business. A hosted version let's us worry about all the boring/annoying aspects of having a forum or community so you focus on your main purpose: engaging your customers.
End to End Solution
Why is Vanilla so different? The same reason that makes Apple a leader in consumer electronics: They control the hardware and software to create an optimal experience. When you host with us you can expect that level of quality and care going into our product as well.
Take It For A Test
If you are still unsure about choosing Vanilla Forums we can make the decision a little easier. Vanilla offers a no-risk free 30-day trial. What better way to see why some of the best, leading and creative companies are choosing Vanilla Forums today. You can learn more about our plan and options here. We think you will see why we consider Vanilla to be "communities re-invented".