Microsoft Hosting Play Pans Out

Microsoft Hosting Play Pans Out

By Anastasia Tubanos,

June 16, 2006 -- (WEB HOST INDUSTRY REVIEW) -- In an industry first helmed by technophiles and IT do-it-yourselfers, it's no big surprise that Linux has held a lasting dominant share over the hosting market. And although the Linux platform still holds favor with a majority of Web hosting providers, a recent report by research and analysis firm Netcraft ( shows that software giant Microsoft ( is continuing to take a bigger share of the Web hosting industry.

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Netcraft's June 2006 Web Server Survey, market share data shows that in the last month Microsoft's hostnames grew by 4.5 million, bringing the company's total market share to 29.7 percent. Linux declined by 429,000 hostnames, bringing its share down to 61.25 percent. Statistics also show that since last July, there's been a 46 percent increase in ASP.NET sites, and a growth of 176 percent in Windows Server 2003 sites since April 2005.

John Zanni, director of shared hosting market development for Microsoft's communication sector says it all started couple of years ago when Microsoft noticed the market was changing and that people, especially businesses, were looking toward software being provided as a service rather than a packaged product. Microsoft started focusing on this market, trying to better understand what the needs would be from customer Web host and ISV perspectives, and developed new software and products that would make it easier to offer SaaS to customers and their end-users. Zanni says that today, there's a growing demand for Microsoft's platform because end users are becoming more sophisticated with what they want to do on the Web and Microsoft's solutions offer them just that.

"End-users used to look for very basic functionality, a place they could post some pictures, or maybe a simple blog, but now they're asking for much richer functionality," says Zanni. "They want their business sites to be transactional. They want to be able to create galleries of pictures that limit who can see what. Microsoft understands the non-technical user very well and we have a series of applications that we've been developing since the beginning of this company that makes it very easy for people to do the things they're asking for."

Zanni says one of the advantages Microsoft has over Linux is the ability to look at a problem from end to end. Because the company has both its own server and application software, it is able to look at what is needed in the market and provide an integrated experience for its customers. "That's one of the biggest advantages we have, we can offer a variety of experiences. And then of course there's a name behind it - Microsoft and Windows - which allows people to know we stand behind the quality of our software," says Zanni.

It's only within the last year and half that Microsoft has become distinctly visible in the hosting industry as the company has been making aggressive moves towards making its name more common among ISVs and Web hosts. It seems that having a booth at every major industry event and holding seasonal hosting seminar series worldwide has paid off, not necessarily in making customers aware of Microsoft, but in making them aware of specific Microsoft solutions and projects.

Over the last few months Microsoft has signed or announced agreements with several giants of Web hosting, including GoDaddy, Verio, and RackSpace. Microsoft also recently launched the hosting specialization in the advanced infrastructure competency of the Microsoft Partner Program and has added 130 new certified and Gold Certified partners to the program since last December, the most recent addition being Germany's 1&1 Internet.

As for where Microsoft sees itself going, Zanni says the industry can expect to see more of Microsoft's products enabled to work in a hosted environment and as the company builds the next versions of its products, hosting and SaaS will be a key component of them. Microsoft will be doing more on the marketing side as well, by helping businesses understand how they can offer SaaS, how they can build it and how they can grow the business and become more profitable with the Windows platform.

"From a Microsoft perspective, our goal is really to enable people to be successful using software as a service," says Zanni. "That is our primary goal. We've been interacting very much with hosters to really learn how they work, what they need to be more effective, what they need to grow revenue and to be more profitable based on our platform. And what you're seeing from Netcraft regarding our share rising shows that we're on track, that what we're doing is really helping the market."