A website is no fun if no one can access it. When we've done the hard work of creating the website, we've got to make it available for people to visit. In other for this to be possible, we've got to put it up on a computer, then provide a means for the computer to be reached.
# The computer
The computer that contains our website is typically referred to as a web server. If we're building a site that will be used within a LAN (Local Area Network), for example, a small office, home, e.t.c. We can have the file on a computer(laptop, phone, desktop) that can be reached when needed.
If we're building anything bigger, we can still put it on our small computer, but it might not be able to handle the weight of the whole internet trying to access your site. This issue can be solved with putting up the site on a hosting service.
Companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, GoDaddy, e.t.c. has the money, time and resources to build, buy and maintain super powerful computers (Web Servers) that can serve up web pages to people. They'll gladly take care of hosting your site for you, of course for a fee. Duh!!!
# Computer, where are you?
In other to connect to our server, we need its address. In our scenario, we're concerned about the IP address of our computer. The IP Address is in this form xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx, where xxx is a number within 0 and 255 (inclusive). This number is unique for every computer, hence making it possible for computers to communicate over the internet.
There's more to computer communication than what I've said above. Please feel free to do more research on your own.
With an IP address, we can establish a connection to a computer and issue it command to do what we want. In the case of a website, the web browser will send a request to the IP address for the web page at that address. Then the server responds with the appropriate content.
# Whom to choose?
I'm a big fan of Microsoft products, especially Microsoft Azure, hence I'll be hosting my site on azure. Feel free to host on any other provider, but everything I do will be on azure. You can sign up at www.azure.com. As of October 11, 2015, You get a $200 credit when you sign up. When your credit runs out, you can still host 10 websites on it for free. I do believe that before your credit is out, you'll become a paying customer. Trust me, they've got some awesome shit.
In this next post, I'll go ahead and actually create a website on azure. Then move my current work over there.