Over the years there have been a number of attempts to organize groups to support the web hosting industry. A new effort will be announced next week at HostingCon 2008 in Chicago, according to The WHIR. The new trade group, the Association of Internet and Hosting Service Providers (AIHSP) has launched its web site in advance of the show.
"The notion of a professional association for the web hosting and internet services industry has been discussed for many years, each time with widespread enthusiasm but ultimately a lack of dedicated energy," AIHSP founding committee president Paul Hirsch told The WHIR. "Today, we see a moment of tremendous opportunity, and we believe we have developed the strategy we need to make this a reality. We envision an organization owned by its members with the purpose of serving the industry as a whole."
The group's goals include several efforts to use the "strength in numbers" approach to make affordable benefit programs available to members. "AIHSP intends to use the collective buying power of its members to secure medical, dental, vision, disability and retirement benefits at competitive rates," the group says on its web site. The AIHSP is not yet publishing its membership fees.
That's a smart approach. How well it succeeds could depend on how the new group approaches one of its other priorities: establishing business standards and an Ethics Review Board to "manage concerns involving hosting practices."
Getting web hosting companies all on the same page on ethics and business practices is a challenge, particularly if you're seeking to aggregate smaller providers. What practices do you target? Overselling? Well, you just lost DreamHost, one of the biggest shared hosts. That's just one example of the potential land mines.
Don't get me wrong: the web hosting business would benefit greatly from improved business practices. In my experience, once you get a large number of providers in a discussion about ethics, it's no simple matter to reach a consensus.
AIHSP representatives will discuss the initiative at HostingCon on Tuesday, July 27 at 2:45 pm in a session titled "Making the Case: The Need for a Professional Association for Web hosts."