This section is largely targeted to enterprises because only larger companies have the resources and capabilities to conceivably build a useful URL redirection service…but should they?
We fully admit we’re not neutral about this. After all, we run a company that provides URL redirection services, so of course we think you should buy! That being said, we have tried to put self-interest aside and present valuable factors that should be taken into account by any company asking this question.
Our team has spent years in or working with enterprise IT groups so we bring a secondary perspective. In fact, our decision to start EasyRedir came in part from the understanding that enterprise IT departments don’t want to spend their budgets or time on building feature-rich software that’s readily available. They don’t want to set up a situation where they’re providing ongoing maintenance and service to non-technical members of their companies, when a service could take that off their hands.
So, with our perspective stated, let’s dive into the things you should consider – whether you eventually end up building or buying.
1. Labour & Infrastructure Costs: Initial Implementation
Obviously, if you’re building a URL redirection solution, you’re going to need to task people from your team to do so, and that comes with a cost. Hiring a contract team will cost even more. How much time will it take you to build, test and deploy the service you need? Remember that your labour costs will include project managers, developers, QA testers, and systems administrators or DevOps experts. Sadly the initial costs won’t end there, there’s still infrastructure to consider as you’ll also need to procure servers (either physical or cloud-based).
2. Labour & Infrastructure Costs: Ongoing Maintenance
Once you’ve got URL redirection services in place, you need to consider the costs to maintain and add new features to it to serve the larger business. If you’ve built the software, you’ve effectively set your IT team up as the vendor to the rest of the company on this specific product.
How much will it cost to service that? A typical estimate for annual maintenance would be 20-25% of the initial implementation cost, plus infrastructure maintenance and traffic-related costs based on usage.
On a related note, even if you buy URL redirection services, you should be careful about whether the features they offer will deliver what you need or if there’s ongoing internal efforts required from your team over the long term, as these costs can make an initial “good deal” snowball over time.
3. Management Dashboard and Optimization
Is it easy to use the management dashboard to set up redirects? Is there a dashboard at all? If there is a dashboard, has it been optimized to set up and maintain a large number of redirects or are you going to run into challenges as you scale? These challenges could include a user experience that degrades with larger volumes of redirects.
These are important questions to consider as you decide whether to build or buy.
4. Ease-of-Use for Non-Technical Staff
If your IT team is not planning on managing the creation and maintenance of all your URL redirects and campaigns, you will likely have non-technically minded team members doing so instead. Seemingly, this should keep your IT team focused on higher priorities than redirect management, but it also means you need something easy for your business users to use or the phone is going to start ringing. Consider this when you build or buy so you don’t create issues with user adoption.
This is an important lens to put on your decision to build or buy.
Will your service stand up to heavy volumes of redirects? Is it engineered to easily scale to additional capacity? Has it been tested under load? Can it perform at the level required by the enterprise? If not, is it just another problem rather than a solution?
6. Additional Labour and Out-of-Pocket Costs
A good URL redirect service can handle your ongoing SSL certificate purchases, renewals and deployments. The best of them offer it inside a single fee.
If you’re building, SSL certificates are now your responsibility. Who’s going to handle them? Are you building additional functionality to handle them?
You’ll also need to think about building systems to request and renew the SSL certificates, as well as finding a way to store them securely and deploy them across your infrastructure. Plus, when adding or reducing servers in your cluster, you’ll need to ensure they have the correct certificates available.
Does all this sound like something you want your team to be doing? Or is it possible they have higher priorities?
This can be quite complicated.
If you’re building URL redirect capabilities, you need infrastructure providers you can rely on. If there’s a problem with your data centre your redirects won’t be available. That’s why multiple servers across multiple data centres are important. In fact, you really shouldn’t use any solution that doesn’t provide multiple servers across multiple data centers.
The additional complicating factor here is the SSL certificates. If you’re adding and removing servers over time, you need a way to manage SSL certificates and deploy them to servers across your infrastructure. Otherwise your users could land on a page that is un-secure and receive a frightening browser security warning. Along with that comes damage to your brand and reputation, however small or large.
How well can your service scale to meet increasing, variable and dynamic traffic volumes? The answer should be seamlessly, but seamlessly scaling may require additional servers and/or tuning configurations and code to handle traffic volumes.
The question is then – how do you build and do all that yourself? Or perhaps it’s better put as – which URL redirect provider is built to deliver exactly that?
The bottom line…
There is a lot to consider when you look at equipping your organization with a cost-effective, reliable and usable URL redirection service. There’s a lot that can go wrong and there’s a lot of hidden and ongoing delivery costs associated with building a service from scratch.
Well-resourced organizations can absolutely build a service if they’re willing to make significant investments in building, maintaining and servicing the product over the long term. But for the vast majority of organizations, the most cost-effective, user-friendly and efficient choice is going to be buying services from an existing provider.
Continue your URL redirection education with our free book: The Complete Guide to URL Redirection Management.