Managed Hosting For SMB’s

August 22, 2008

Karen Schwartz has an article on eWeek Midmarket called Managed hosting may reduce costs for SMBs.

The article references a white paper by a hosting provider. I found that it leaves out some more basic information for SMB managers who may be evaluating hosting. I have used several types of hosting over the years, and there are key differences.

This will be about traditional hosting, not the current market in virtual hosting. The traditional hosting models usually fit into these categories;

Colocated Server

In a server colocation hosting agreement, the hosting provider physically sells (or leases) the server platform to you. The physical server is then installed in their data center. The hosting provider maintains the power, security, fast and redundant Internet circuit speeds and will usually service hardware failures.

But all software and server software maintenence (ie security patches) are your responsibility.

The benefit is that you maintain complete control of your platform, with the benefits of the high availability and redundancy that the provider has built into their data center.

Co-Managed Server

In this form of hosting, the hosting provider leases you the server, and again, the physical server is then installed in their data center. In a co-managed scenario you have negotiated roles regarding server maintenance. For example, the hosting provider may do the maintenance of the Operating System, or the database engine.

You remain responsible for your tools or applications that are installed on the server. If you have custom applications, or complex applications that you can modify – this will be what the hosting provider will want. Simply becasue they cannot be responsible if your internal developers blow up the application from poor coding practices.

Managed Server

A fully managed server environment has the provider fully maintain the server environment. You just use the server. While this requires the least work on your part, it also has the least flexibility. Simply because to ensure that you don’t kill the server and cost them money fixing it, only limited supported applications (ie a web application) are supported. If you wish to add anything (ie support for an environment such as PHP),it is to the negotiating table with your provider to see if it is a suported environment.

Which is the Right Choice?

The choices all come down to your needs. The less you need to change any server configuration, the more fully managed it can be.

I have posted previously that we currently outsource hosting to a third party. In our case we are using the co-managed model. The hosting provider takes care of operating system updates and database backup etc.

Our on-line LCMS (learning Content Managent System) tools require frequent updates and modifications, so we maintain those.

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