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Managed Hosting Overview
Managed or Unmanaged? You Decide
Benefits of Managed Hosting
Popular Managed Hosting Services
Managed Hosting Myths
Questions To Ask Managed Hosting Providers
Managed Hosting Overview
What is managed hosting? What do managed hosting services entail and how is the service different from other hosting options? Managed hosting and dedicated server hosting are similar in that you are provided a server that is completely “dedicated” to your web hosting and application needs. Keep reading and you’ll find that’s just about the only thing that these hosting services have in common.
While a dedicated server can provide the space, bandwidth, and reliability, there is a potential downside other than cost. With most dedicated hosting plans, the server is effectively yours which means that you are responsible for most of the server administration tasks. A few examples of common server administration tasks include monitoring operating system and network, installing and maintaining hardware, configuring operating system and network as well as troubleshooting hardware and software issues. For those who are technically savvy, willing to become so or have the budget to hire someone who is, this might not seem like a large hurdle. However, many businesses find that it‘s more beneficial from a operations and cost perspective to outsource their entire IT infrastructure and server administration with a managed hosting provider.
With managed hosting, the majority of the server administration is handled by the provider. Managed hosting has been described as a glorified dedicated server with extended features and support. As with a dedicated server, you get your choice of operating system, routing equipment, network connectivity and administrative control. However, managed server hosting takes care of much more than what’s offered with dedicated hosting. Depending on the provider, managed hosting plans can include a wide range of services such as data storage and backup, security and firewalls, database administration, load balancing and around the clock support.
Managed or Unmanaged Hosting? You Decide
Although the number and type of managed hosting services available vary between providers, customers can generally expect to fall under at least one of the three tier levels:
Fully Managed Hosting
Under this level of managed hosting, the managed hosting provider relieves the customer of virtually all server administrative tasks such as server monitoring, software installation and server updates. In addition, the managed hosting provider is responsible for providing 24x7 live technical support and customer service to resolve technical issues and questions.
A la carte Managed Hosting
Similar to dedicated hosting, this option allows the customer to select specific managed services needed to successfully run their web and applications. For instance, a customer may only need a managed firewall, SSL certificates and security monitoring. This hosting option gives the customer a lot of flexibility in terms of what the managed hosting provider has access to. It can also prove to be more cost effect for businesses that have their own IT resources. However, limits may be placed on some services, such as the number of server reboots. Technical support is also offered in diminished forms, either limiting the amount of support provided, charging extra for support or even restricting customers to online resources.
In many respects, a self-management offering tends to resemble high-level dedicated or colocation hosting services rather than a la carte or fully managed services. If you opt for a self-management plan, you should have a significant amount of technical expertise on hand. Some services will be made available, but it will be up to you to handle the installation, configuration and related tasks. Technical support will be minimal or available only at extra cost.
Benefits of Managed Hosting
Managed hosting is turn-key meaning it includes everything needed to host and run your IT environment from the equipment to technical support. The managed hosting provider assumes the responsibly of running, supervising and maintaining all or most hosting operations.
With managed hosting, the customer is able to take advantage of economies of scale by utilizing a shared data center environment built to the highest standards. It would be very costly, perhaps even prohibitively expensive, for a business to replicate such a hosting environment on its own premises. In addition, there are many more bandwidth options and carriers available.
Managed hosting requires minimal initial capital. As with dedicated hosting, customers are spared the high up-front capital costs associated with purchasing, installing, deploying and maintaining expensive servers and associated technologies.
Managed hosting provides access to around the clock technical support. This allows businesses to sidestep or lower costs relating to the hiring and training of technical employees.
With managed hosting, customers can be assured that their data and applications are receiving the technical and time-intensive attention they require. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) define the standards for support, updates, technical assistance and uptime.
With managed hosting, the customer is left free to concentrate on business and creative matters and deploy capital towards other aspects of their business such as additional sales staff, inventory, marketing or research and development.
Popular Managed Hosting Services
Server Monitoring – the managed hosting provider will track your server’s performance and depending on the managed service, will either notify you or resolve the issue for you.
Disk Cleanup and Backup – the managed hosting provider will backup your data and remove old or unnecessary files from your server on a regular basis.
Managed Firewall – a managed firewall helps to protect you from malicious traffic before it ever touches your servers and mission-critical data.
Virus Scanning – the managed hosting provider will run routine virus scans on your server’s hard drives.
Security Audits and Monitoring – the managed hosting provider will assess your system and report any potential security issues they identify.
Operating System Updates – the managed hosting provider will apply all patches and updates to ensure that your server is running as quickly and securely as possible.
Email Management – many managed hosting providers offer to set up, manage, and filter email accounts associated with your hosted domains.
Disaster Recovery Services – offsite data storage and backups to ensure that your data, websites and applications are recoverable in the event of a natural disasters and power outages.
Load Balancing - load balancing ensures that traffic gets distributed to the least-utilized server, maximizing your existing resources, decreasing total cost of ownership (TCO), and ensuring a smooth and frustration-free experience for your users.
Database Administration – database engineers and architects will optimize and tune your database for optimal performance and customer satisfaction.
Managed Hosting Myths
Managed hosting has a strong reputation for being hassle free and cost-effective. However, when businesses begin evaluating managed-hosting providers, they sometimes get carried away by their enthusiasm and myth begins to surpass reality.
Myth 1: Managed hosting is always more expensive than dedicated hosting.
While it's true that managed hosting usually costs more than a similarly sized dedicated hosting package, it's also important to look at the big picture. Managed hosting allows customers to save time and money by dedicating fewer internal resources to server administration. This can translate into lower staff costs and reduced office space, actually making managed hosting less expensive than dedicated hosting over the long-term.
Myth 2: Managed hosting offers completely "hands-off" service.
It depends on how one defines "hands-off." A fully managed hosting package provides a much higher degree of automation than the service offered by a basic dedicated hosting provider. But service levels vary greatly between managed providers and even within a particular vendor's pricing tiers. Still, even at the highest service levels, customers will usually be expected to provide their own content, website design and various other nonessential tasks.
Myth 3: Only newbies need managed hosting.
Thinking that managed hosting is strictly for the technologically inexperienced is sort of like believing that a world-class chef never goes out to eat simply because he can cook his own gourmet meals. Even a company with a staff that's highly skilled in Web technologies may want to use a managed hosting provider in order to take advantage of the various associated services and cost benefits.
Myth 4: A managed-hosting provider will always keep my data safe and secure.
This is generally true, but if you read the hosting contract's fine print, you'll probably discover that the provider is not legally obligated to protect your data under all conditions. Things can happen: datacenters can burn down, flood, blow up, get robbed or fall into a sinkhole. Even backups of backups can be destroyed in a catastrophe. Therefore, it's always smart to keep recent backups of critical data at one or more local sites.
Myth 5: Managed hosting will keep my Website running 24/7, without interruption.
Although many providers offer packages that promise continuous service, there's usually a contract loophole that allows the company to escape liability in the event of circumstances beyond its control. This means that in rare instances service may become unavailable for hours or even days at a time. To recoup lost income from such an event, your only recourse will be a costly and risky negligence lawsuit.
Myth 6: Managed hosting will protect my resources against viruses and other types of attacks.
Managed-hosting providers strive to protect their servers and software from outside threats, including malware and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. But as providers experiment with new technologies and tactics, there's always the possibility that your provider and resources will get struck down.
Myth 7: Managed hosting provides limited software choices.
It's true that most vendors offer a limited array of popular server platforms, applications and other software resources. Unless your business has some very exotic software needs, though, it's usually quite easy to find a provider that offers an acceptable selection of software choices.
Questions To Ask Potential Managed Hosting Providers
Do you know what to ask before you buy? This comprehensive checklist of questions to ask managed hosting providers will help you get exactly what you need and avoid unnecessary expenditures. Remember, data center services are somewhat negotiable. If you don’t hear everything you want, ask what it would cost to add it.
What managed services does the provider offer?
Does the provider have different types of managed hosting plans?
Does the provider offer a la carte managed services?
What level of physical access will I have to the managed server?
Does the provider offer access during limited hours or 24x7x365?
If you need additional emergency services, how readily will technical resources be available?
Is the data center carrier neutral?
What bandwidth options and carriers are available at this facility?
What remote monitoring tools are available and who monitors them?
What sorts of sites or applications will the provider not allow on its servers?
Are there discounts available for long-term contracts?
What uptime guarantee does the managed hosting provider offer, and what compensation will you receive if the guarantee is not met?
What business continuity and disaster recovery services does the hosting provider offer?
What kinds of tenants does the data center have currently?
What do present and past tenants say about their managed hosting service?
Visit our data center forum for reviews and additional information on managed hosting services or speak directly to one of our Data Center Mapping.com
managed server hosting experts for questions, help or advice by calling toll free (877) 406-2248.