In this article we give a brief review of managed hosting and how it differs from other hosting options that are available.
The principle difference between managed hosting and dedicated servers is that your organisation is supplied not only with your own physical machine, but with a suite of additional management services that are included in the price. The additional services will include such things as maintaining operating system updates through to full backup management and disaster recovery. The cost of the service will rise depending on the number of services taken out but overall most companies find that the price/performance ratio is better with managed hosting when compared to having their own IT staff manage the server.
A dedicated server is another popular option. This is simply a physical machine that is dedicated just to you. You specify the processor, memory and disk required and the hosting provider will provide that machine for you to use. There is no management of the machine so although an apparently cheap option there are considerable downsides to this type of hosting.
With managed hosting you can choose the level of management you require and which additional services you wish to use. The number and type of services vary between hosting providers, but you generally expect to be offered at least full management or standard management.
The service most customers choose is full management. By giving full responsibility for the management of the server to the managed hosting company you are free to get on with business development rather than worrying about the hardware itself. The hosting company will patch the operating system with updates and security enhancements, backup your server, and generally ensure the smooth operation of the server.
With a standard management plan, you will generally receive the operating system updates but for backing up the server and disaster recovery you will be left to your own devices. For some companies this can be beneficial because you are in full control of this critical aspect of your company. In addition there is a reduced monthly fee so if you have the in-house IT staff that are happy to manage some aspects of the server then this would be the natural choice.
For companies on very tight budgets the only realistic option is the dedicated server but in reality the management of a server is a time consuming and costly process and best left to the experts.
When you come to choose a managed hosting provider, a service level agreement (SLA) is the key thing to look out for. This is the promise to you for how the managed hosting company will react according to various system failures. The very best managed hosting providers will offer a 100% availability guarantee on their products which means they guarantee you won't be left without internet connectivity or power due to problems on their infrastructure. There is often a small premium to be paid for such providers but it is often beneficial in the longer term.
To summarise then, with the managed hosting provider taking all responsibly for the installation, monitoring and maintenance of your server, you will be free to focus on more business oriented matters. In the long run this often works out more cost-effective than trying to scrimp on costs up front. For most customers, particularly SMBs (small to medium sized businesses), managed hosting can therefore lead to substantial cost savings as the cost of in-house IT staff can be prohibitive. SMB's are also spared the high up-front capital expenditure associated with buying and maintaining expensive servers. Equally important is that managed hosting gives customers confidence that their vital web site is getting a high level of technical expertise which they could not do any other way.