Saturday 11 January 2014

Dedicated vs Managed vs Colocation Web Server Hosting Services

Dedicated vs Managed vs Colocation Web Server Hosting Services

Which form of web server hosting service to choose: Dedicated, Managed or Colocation? The answer of this question is very difficult and it totally lies upon your business need. In this article, we will compare Dedicated, Managed and Colocation Web Server Hosting Services in terms of their cost, flexibility, uptime, reliability, storage space, bandwidth, software and hardware requirements etc. 

What is Managed Web Server Hosting?

Managed Web Server hosting means that the hosting provider will manage everything that is required to give you an online presence for your website - the hardware (web server and networking equipment), software (web server and email software, site creation software), the internet backbone connection, maintenance, upgrades, backups, and so on. Once signed up, all you have to do is to create your web pages, set up your email boxes, and order any other additional services you want.

What is Dedicated Web Server Hosting?

As with managed hosting, your provider owns and manages the hardware, and takes care of all the infrastructure details (networking and internet connectivity), backups and maintenance. But in this case, the entire server is dedicated for just your use. Typically, the software installed on the server will allow you to host more than one website, and you are allowed full control over how the server itself functions, which is NOT the case with managed accounts. Your IT team can manage all the software and hardware installations.

Dedicated servers are leased on a monthly or yearly basis. The most common use for a dedicated server is for Web services. Dedicated server offerings are typically limited to server configurations that are popular and sell quickly as most providers don't want to stock server inventory for long periods of time. Most dedicated server providers offer very low end equipment that is not backed by any type of SLA. The service is a best effort service. Additionally, dedicated servers are usually provided as an unmanaged service. This means you are responsible for managing all aspects of the server. If you need additional management assistance, additional fees will be incurred. Businesses that host multiple Web sites are excellent candidates for dedicated servers. Be aware that few if any low priced dedicated server solutions come with any guarantee. If your business and your clients expect a high degree of uptime assurance, a colocated solution will be better in the long run.

What is Colocation Web Server Hosting?

Businesses who colocate use their own equipment. The equipment is sent to the colocation provider's facility, installed and typically not touched by the provider unless there is an issue that requires immediate intervention or unless the business has negotiated a management agreement with the provider. Equipment is typically owned by the business that is securing colocation services. In addition, software licenses are owned by the business that owns the equipment. Colocation gives your business the flexibility to plan for growth, to incorporate mirroring, load balancing and other options that are not available on a leased basis.

Comparison between Managed, Dedicated and Colocation Web Server Hosting

Although it is less expensive to lease a dedicated server, managed hosting provides extra features and services that make it a valuable investment. For instance, it can greatly reduce the resources required to power your ecommerce website. With a managed hosting, you will not require an IT staff to run the server and you will not have to buy the hardware required  for the server infrastructure as the host provides the hardware and you can choose your needed software applications. As well as saving on operating costs, you will save on the office space that would normally be required to maintain the physical equipment.

With a dedicated server, you have more freedom and control over your server, however, this means it will be a 24/7 job to maintain the server, including its security. With a managed hosting solution, you will have the time to expand your website instead focusing on the technical administration and monitoring. You also save time because the host takes care of administering the server 24/7 allowing you to focus on growing your business. It is a cost efficient and trouble-free way to host a website and you can be assured of effective security. As well, you do not have to have a fully managed hosting service as there are partially managed hosting solutions available so you can have the control you need.

Why Choose Colocation Hosting?

There are many, many factors that will go into deciding which solution (Colocation, Dedicated and Managed Hosting) makes the most sense for you, making it nearly impossible to employ a simple 'checklist' approach. But, there are some major considerations which can get you going in the right direction, as follows.


A big limitation of Managed Hosting is that your provider will typically select the hardware and software that you get, though they may give you some choices as to the 'class' of product. If you only wish to host a simple home page, almost any basic server setup will do. But if you need to host database applications, audio/video streaming, websites like search engines and portals which generate lots of traffic, online applications, or anything else that requires lots of bandwidth or hardware resources, typical managed solutions are likely to come up short. With Colocation, YOU are in control and can implement the hardware and software that will give you the most bang for your buck - and you can get it from the vendor of your choice. While the initial entry cost for a Colocation plan can be high as compared to a simple managed plan, you'll generally find that, when dealing in large amounts of bandwidth, you'll get a better deal with Colocation.


These kinds of things are beyond the realm of the typical Managed Hosting provider. They have a cookie-cutter approach, and can host thousands of home pages cheaply, but enterprise-class stuff like this is usually too exotic for them. Colocation allows you to use multiple servers, dedicated internet appliances (such as firewalls, load balancers, etc) and custom devices, and to interconnect these as you see fit, even creating your own mini-network, which you then uplink to the public internet using the interface provided by your Colocation vendor. 


It is not uncommon for Managed Hosting providers to place restrictions on the types of content and services they will let you host. Many will not allow any adult content, or hosting of IRC channels, for instance. On the other hand, Colocation service providers generally will allow any content or service, as long as it's legal.


If you simply want a dedicated line for remote control or monitoring, or you are setting up a VoIP server, a VPN or some other special networking application, a Colocation provider - especially one who uses a carrier-neutral facility (meaning that the facility is available for service from all telcos), regularly does this and will be able to accommodate you.


As you may have gleaned at this point, Managed Hosting providers will typically impose a range of limits on your service. They may seem insignificant at first, but when you find yourself bumping up against limits on the number of domains you can host, types of services or content you can use, processor overhead available to you, IP addresses available to you, etc, things can get frustrating - and if these limits can be lifted, you will pay for the privilege! Colocation typically imposes no such limits - you will pay more if your power/cabinet space or bandwidth usage increases, but you will enjoy 'bulk rates' that will become even more cost-effective as you grow.


There could be a thousand reasons why, but the bottom line is that YOU want to be in the driver's seat of your Internet presence project. Colocation puts you there.

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