web based database application design and maintenance

Dear Experts,

I am an IT director for a company that heavily relies on several online database applications.  These applications were made by outside consultant firm, and certain issues came up, and I am trying to bring them in house.
Even though I have designed, created, and maintained several database systems in my past jobs, I do not have any experience in creating online database application that gets very heavy traffic, and I wanted to ask for your expertise.

I do not plan to port the existing applications, as they are written in older language, and exist on older technology.  I want to start brand new.

Obviously, I need to hire some workers to work with me, because I would like to keep development and maintenance in house, but I am considering data hosting company that specializes in cluster or VM technology to ensure no downtime. (almost none, anyway)

Here are my questions:
1. What is the recommended platform/language?  I am versed in MySQL, VBA, Java, C++, but that doesn't really matter, because I can always learn, and I will hire someone that is already comfortable with that language and platform.
2. Can you give me some pointers to how to find a good data hosting company that supports 24/7 solution?
3. Given a database schema, am I reasonable to assume that this is an undertaking that I will manage, or because of my lack of experience with online database application development, I should hire an expert just for that?  Of course, with budget in mind, I am not able to freely hire the best candidate for all of the components.

I know I am quite vague in my questions, but I see this problem as a big, nebulous cloud of potential problems, that I really need to tackle, so any advise is appreciated.

Thank you!!!
yballanAsked:
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Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information SystemsCommented:
1) HTML5, CSS, and javascript are the modern web programming tools.  What IDE or backend language you chose doesn't matter much as they'll all have similar capabilities.  We use ASP.Net and MSSQL, but many people like PHP and MySQL.

2)  Almost all hosting companies will negotiate an SLA with you.  The more uptime you demand, the more you'll pay, but downtime for distributed websites is almost a non-issue anyway.

3)  I can't answer this for you, but I can tell you online database design is almost identical to desktop database design when it comes to eking out best performance.

Start by choosing the tools you want to learn/use.  Find online resources that will educate you on the best practices for those tools.  Sketch out a design plan, then look for programmers that can help you implement that plan.  Test early and often.
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yballanAuthor Commented:
Dear paulmacd,

Thank you for a through explanation to exactly what I was looking for !
I will start looking into ASP.Net and PHP and decide on which go with.
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