Podango dies, ack! The risk of not owning your own infrastructure

There are many services out there to help you get started with blogging and podcasting. A few clicks and you can have a blogspot account etc, and in the podcasting world there are similar services which offer podcast hosting services. While this is temptingly easy and simple to get started, there are risks. What if, for example, your service provider goes belly up?

Podango was a company offering podcast hosting services. I just learned through podcastanswerman that Podango has died, on December 26 2008 they announced that as of December 31 that they would likely cease operations, and they warned all their podcasters to move their content. Uh, that is somewhere around the worst timing to make such an announcement. Christmas holidays? Five day warning? Uh?

I'm sorry for all the people who are affected by this.

To me this underscores a critical strategic point in running a web site. It is to have as much control over your own infrastructure as your technical skill can manage. To the extent that your infrastructure is provided by someone else, that is the risk you have of your infrastructure suddenly going poof.

e.g. if you're blogging via a blogging service like wordpress.com or blogger.com or whatever, what if the sponsoring company were to run out of funds and disappear? Your hard work would go away, would disappear, because some other company failed to be successful.

It's not terribly hard to run your own website but obviously there are many people who lack the technical skill to run their own hosting. There's a reason services like wordpress.com or blogger.com exist, it's because some people's technical skill doesn't allow them to install their own podcasting or blogging software. No matter how easy it is to install platforms like Drupal, many lack the skill to do so, and these hosting providers play an important role in helping these people.

At the same time there is a strategic tradeoff to consider.

Your blog or podcast is made of the content, these are the words in the postings as well as the audio or video files. Your subscribers are the lifeblood of your blog or podcast, and hence it is the RSS or Atom feed through which you connect to your audience.

If you are hosting your blog or podcast through a service, ponder this please, how much control do you have over a) the content you've posted, b) the audio or video files you've posted, c) the URL for your web site, d) the URL for your RSS or Atom feed, and e) how easy is it to move all this to a different hosting service

If the worst happens and you have five days to completely change your site and get back on the air, can you do it, and can you preserve the subscriber base you've already attained?