More companies are choosing to outsource their web hosting to external providers. Providers like SoftLayer cater to large companies and those who need high-performance across numerous website while other providers target a more diverse population. We reviewed SoftLayer's web hosting service pricing, performance, plan offerings, and customer support and compared it with three other impressive web host providers and made several interesting observations.

What Is SoftLayer?

SoftLayer is an International IBM acquired company which offers web hosting services to large business with many websites. They provide infrastructure and expertise to large companies around the globe. Since merging with IBM, their offerings are even more impressive.

SoftLayer guarantees 100% uptime and has 17 geographically diverse locations. They offer flex images to capture server images. Unlike standard image templates, flex images are device neutral and can capture and replicate both bare metal servers and virtual servers.

SoftLayer offers a suite of developer suite of platforms: APIs, application services, Blockchain, Cloud Foundry apps,  Data & Analytics, DevOps, Finance, Integrate, Internet of Things, Mobile, Network, and Watson. You have a variety of operating system options: CentOs, Debian, Microsoft, Redhat or Ubuntu operating systems. Clients can also pick from a suite of platforms, servers, and configurations and they have full control through their customer-friendly portal and application programming interface.

Clients can choose between SoftLayer's bare metal server and virtual server options. SoftLayer's bare metal server package is for clients who want their own dedicated server while their virtual servers are for customers who rather save money by "renting space" on a physical server with other customers (multi-tenancy).

SoftLayer offers three general server tiers: Lite, Pay As You Go, and Subscription. The Lite package comes with one virtual server instance and 256 MB of Cloud Foundry memory. It appears to target technical users like developers. We tested the Pay As You Go tier with the configuration and pricing calculator on the new IBM site.

SoftLayer offers high-performing servers, auto-scaling, a wide variety of hardware configurations, and multiple platforms fit for any company's need. Though their services target deep-pocket corporations, they offer an entrepreneurship program with free credits so they can use their powerful platform.

Product Specs

Pricing

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

  • SoftLayer
  • Bluehost
  • HostGator Cloud
  • SiteGround

SoftLayer

factory oranges

Price  

Performance  

Hosting Plans  

Support  

Pros

  • Premium support comes standard
  • Impressive hosting plans for large companies and those running multiple sites
  • Software and hardware is fully customizable
  • Have plans that do not require a contract
  • Leverages IBM's powerful platform

Cons

  • Not suitable for small businesses
  • Subscription-based customer pricing not available
  • Typical services like Cpanel is not free

Bluehost is a popular web hosting provider that has been around since 1996 and hosts over 2 million websites all over the globe. They have shared, cloud, VPS, and dedicated hosting plans suitable for diverse customer population. Bluehost is a recommended WordPress provider and offers three plans for WordPress hosting. You can get a hosting package for as low as $ for the first year. They provide competitive plans in every tier, allowing customers to upgrade as they grow.

Their cPanel is user-friendly allowing you to manage your websites, domains, emails, files, and tools from one central location. Their shared plans offer unlimited emails, automatic backup, and one-click date restore features.  They also provide multi-server management if you have multiple accounts, and need advanced capabilities like Secure Schell (SSH) access, custom .htaccess, files, cron jobs, and php.ini files. Their content delivery network (CDN) automatically increases site performance and is free to those who want to use it.

You can add on others services to your shared hosting plan including SiteLock, domain privacy, and unique IP addresses. Blue host offers three shared hosting packages: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Go Pro. The Basic, Plus, and Choice Plus packages include SSD storage, unmetered bandwidth, SSL, and standard performance. Their Go PRO shared plan comprises a high-performance server, domain privacy, and two spam experts.

Their cloud hosting plans are safer, faster, and scalable. With cloud hosting your website is a cluster of servers instead of just one so that if you have problems on one server, your site seamlessly migrates to another server. Bluehost's cloud service offers data mirroring, integrated caching, resource monitoring, instant scaling, and automated failover.  Their internal technical support group takes care of security issues, port access, and all server issues.

Their virtual private and dedicated servers target larger clients but are much more economical than SoftLayer services.

Price  

Performance  

Hosting Plans  

Support  

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Great hosting packages
  • Great performance
  • WordPress.org recommended

Cons

  • Customer support lack technical knowledge
  • Migrating to Bluehost is not free. Most web hosting providers transfer your services at no charge.

HostGator is an excellent choiceoffers web hosting services for a wide range of customers. If you are a small business or a large enterprise, they have a package for you.  They offer Cloud, WordPress, VPS, and dedicated hosting services. Their plan subscriptions range from $ to $$ a month (introductory and base level pricing). If you have another web host provider, HostGator will transfer your domain for free (read the details on their website).

Their clouds services are impressive starting at $ (introductory offer). Their business cloud plan starts at an impressive $ and they offer a dedicated IP at this price. You can update your package with tools like video conference, CodeGuard, SiteLock, and G Suite.

HostGator is an excellent choice for businesses who value performance, discount pricing, website copy that is easily understandable, and  tons of features on the plan like free migration, daily backup, and automatic malware removal

Price    

Performance

Hosting Plans

Support

Pros

  • Uptime reliability
  • Great page load performance
  • Easy to understand website, marketing, and sales copy
  • Great pricing for cloud hosting
  • Great customer support

Cons

  • The "special" prices can be misleading
  • They are not active on social media
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crdts: siteground

Site ground is an impressive web hosting provider that boasts official recommendation from WordPress.org, Joomla and Drupal. Their remarkable performance is partly due to having a diversely located data centers across the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Unlike many of their web hosting peers, SiteGround custom build their web solutions to make sure their web hosting platform is stable, secure, fast, and user-friendly. Their customer support is impressive. They offer multi-lingual support and hold a steady 96% customer satisfaction rating.

SiteGround offers full-service platform management on all of their WordPress Hosting sites. Customers do not have to worry about performance, security, updates. They have one of the best customer support team highly rated for availability, skills, and helpfulness.

Their impressive WooCommerce plans take the complexity out of implementing an e-commerce site. They pre-install and manage all the software you need for the site. Other notable offerings include auto updates, daily backs, and PCI compliance.

Their cloud hosting monthly packages start around $$ to $$$ per month which appeals to larger companies and technology companies. If you value performance and customer service, then add SiteGround to your shortlist. They are also an excellent choice if you have a WordPress site with our without e-commerce capabilities.

Price  

Performance    

Hosting Plans  

Support

Pros

  • Affordable pricing
  • Uptime reliability
  • Great page load performance
  • Excellent customer support
  • High-Performance on all WordPress Site
  • Recommended by WordPress.org
  • Free security add-ons
  • User-friend e-commerce installs
  • Free transfer of an existing account for free with a previous host.

Cons

  • Setup fee for monthly billing
  • Limited storage space

Conclusion

We gave SoftLayer a 4 out of 5 rating with caution. They do not cater to simple blog sites or most small businesses. While they have great customer service feedback and top-of-the-line equipment and software tools, their service is customer-specific. They appeal to larger, subscription-based clients and we do not have insight into their configuration and pricing.

Their superior customer service, sophisticated infrastructure, custom plans, and tools make them a top contender for their target market. They offer customer flexibility and contract-free plans. Their infrastructure makes it possible for customers to scale as their enterprise grow.

Some of their fee-based add-ons may leave you puzzled given their high-priced plans, but their all-around Class A business model makes up for it. Their biggest strike comes from their lack of budget-friendly hosting plans.  Overall, this company has a target market and few (if any) web host companies in their class can compete with them.

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