Sorry if this might get a little technical, but if you're running an MSP or IT Service Provider, chances are that you've got a techie bone or two in your body.
The WAMP package is a handy development tool to make sure you've got your website just the way you want it before you unleash it on the world.
WAMP stands for Windows/Apache/MySQL/PHP and contains everything that you need to setup a complete web server and MySQL database on a Windows machine. Now, if you're REALLY techie and reading this blog post, you'd interrupt us at this point to tell us that the "P" could also stand for "Perl" and that there are WAMP packages for non-Windows machines. Which are all true. However, we're writing a blog post, and not a book here, so for the purposes of the article, we'll go with the first explanation.
There are a number a different WAMP flavors that you can go with, but the simplest and easiest to setup is called WampServer.
To install, simply download the installation package and follow the instructions. The WAMP files are usually installed in a C:\wamp directory, with your web server files residing in C:\wamp\www. The individual WAMP services can be started and stopped by a handy icon in the taskbar at the bottom of the Windows screen.
Once you've got WAMP installed, then install the CMS package that you're using for your website in the C:\wamp\www directory. Create a database on the MySQL server for the CMS and follow the CMS setup instructions and, there you go, instant development server.
Although a WAMP package isn't needed if you're running a simple billboard type website, it could be a great development tool if you're looking to incorporate advanced elements into your site. A good example of this would be if you wanted to allow users to enter a ticket number on your website so they could track the progress of their service issues.
Oh yeah - and the best part about all this? Just like many other open source software programs, most WAMP packages are free to download and use.
Here's a short sample video about getting WAMP up and going....