I provide a lot of hosting support for my students. It’s best to learn on real-world systems, not XAMPP or other self-contained simulators. Thus I’ve registered a domain, set up GoogleApps for email and wiki-like services; and configured a linux-based host for the class.
This doesn’t have to cost a lot. The “SmallMan” server was built new for a budget of $325. It consists of: Intel 510DMO (dualcore 1.6Ghz Atom cpu), 4GB RAM, 500GB disk drive, dual-network addon card, an extra fan, an ITX case and P/S, and a DVDROM drive. It hosts three VMs, providing 23 webhosts, two email servers, various other support services… and draws a whopping 25 watts under heavy load.
Unless I look at it I can’t tell it’s running.