Rackspace are one of the biggest hosting companies in the world and they specialise in dedicated servers and cloud hosting solutions. Their business is based on "fanatical" customer support and this makes them a great choice if you are considering a server-based eCommerce solution like Magento or OScommerce.
When I worked for Property Mentor we used them as our service provider so I have first-hand experience of how good they are and I can vouch for the excellence of their customer support - although naturally, it comes at a higher cost.
Every eCommerce store is different but they all have the same core set of requirements:
- PCI compliance. Without PCI compliance, you can’t process your customers’ credit card data. It's essential for all online stores.
- Dedicated IP and an SSL certificate. You need an SSL and a dedicated IP address to authenticate your store on the web.
- Uptime / server tier. The best data centers are Tier 4. This effectively means that they offer the best uptime. On the opposite end are Tier 1 servers. The higher the Tier the less likely the downtime you are going to experience.
- High server specs. A fast web server will deliver your site quickly and handle more customers in a given period of time. .
- Data centre location. If the data centre is closer to your audience’s location, your online store will load far quicker for them.
- Good security policies. Security is often the be-all-end-all of e-commerce stores. Remember that you’re dealing with your customers’ personal and financial data. For that, you need good server security.
You can choose between Dedicated or cloud-hosted servers. Cloud hosted options include CDN, cloud monitoring, cloud DNS, SSD drives and more.
For eCommerce stores that are just starting out then I'd recommend looking at EZPZ hosting as they have a range of great entry level packages and they are UK based so you'll get excellent response times for local customers.
Rackspace really comes into its own when you are using Magento to power your eCommerce store. Magento is such a resource-intensive memory hog that you need a lot of power to stop your site coming to a crawl and with its range of dedicated servers, you'll get the exact match for your site in terms of power and price.