What Is It?
Managed hosting is a new approach to hosting where hosts offer features such as load balancing, application and database management, and high availability services. Companies that do not have the in-house resources to maintain their server administration will find managed hosting very useful. Depending on the features of the hosts and the cost-savings, companies can either take advantage of semi- or fully- managed hosting. Most managed plans followed a tiered schedule according to the supporting configurations, network and hardware involved.
Managed services offer enhanced support and maintenance to companies to keep their servers working at their best. For some companies, managed hosting can free up time and resources by not using a lot of time to maintain full control over the system and its applications. Managed hosting does cost more that un-managed, but when you look at the costs of security monitoring, personally performing updates, and other tasks, managed (fully- or semi-) service could cost less.
With managed hosting, there are many benefits for a company. For instance, companies can focus on business and not as much on IT. Hosts provide bandwidth and connectivity to the Internet as well as allow SMBs to focus more of their energy on running core processes instead of IT management. Managed hosting also has a more efficient use of resources by freeing IT staff so that they can be deployed in tasks that are more valuable to companies besides troubleshooting and other such routine tasks. Managed hosting can reduce their costs by improving their server efficiency.
Managed services can predict the costs of messaging and hosting more accurately. Managed hosting lets users have a greater amount of flexibility in deploying services, which can help in spam filtering, bandwidth, and other features. This lets the company use the hosting provider's staff and resources to do these changes instead of hiring their own staff.
Managed hosting has all the high standards of physical security as well as relying on data centres that detect intrusion, redundant power systems, monitoring tools, and tracking tools. With managed hosting, the newest technology upgrades will be available for a monthly fee, there is no need to install high-speed connectivity, invest in an upfront OS, etc. Service providers can access the IT industry's best practices and obtain the best members for their staff and get the update their hardware, software and network capabilities regularly. Recovery and continuity services for companies usually have an additional charge.
Some of the primary elements of managed hosting are managed email and messaging, DNS hosting, managed security, managed data backup, server and services monitoring, software updating and OS patching, and other optional services. Managed email is built so that there are measures to keep a high availability and redundancy so that it can lessen server loads, decrease spam and reduce the need for in-house IT administration and churn. With managed email, some features you get are spam filtration, calender functionality, groupware/collaboration productivity, and high availability and redundancy.
With DNS hosting, companies get domain name management, DNS-based buffer overflow attack protection, round robin DNS and “heartbeat” DNS, and simplified configuration. All these features helps to create proper DNS records that optimize mail exchange and help with the load distribution and basic fail over functionality.
Managed security will help with unwanted intruders that may cause damage with security audits, third party audits, customized firewalls and updating, monitoring check sums of binaries and removal of known vulnerabilities, and log reviews to block internet traffic.
Managed data backups secure and protect the websites, servers, and data. Features that are included are validating backup and restoration, data encryption within the backup environment, incremental backups of content, and reliable and fast restore processes.
Monitoring includes services like intervention of requested daemons and services, service reports, showing monthly loads, events, trends and results with recommended courses of action in case of service failure of expansion requirements, and monitoring of the network connectivity with troubleshooting and rebooting.
Managed software updates and OS patching is built so that it can maintain repositories of data and allows for stable and controlled software updates. Features included are verifying and correcting updates, minimizing vulnerabilities by closing security gaps, re-visioning and application of security and software patches, and repositories for the operating systems that are maintained by the host.
Other services that can be added are of a list of optional and extended services and could include load balancing, enterprise storage solutions, managed hardware firewalls, custom software and application installs and more.
What You Should Know Before You Buy
Before buying managed hosting services, there are five things that all companies should consider:
The company's technical expertise, which abilities and skill sets are available in the in-house IT staff to manage the server and hosting needs. In-house staff usually do not have as much experience with server management as managed server providers who are always responding to hosting-related problems. Web hosts usually have expert system administrators and specialists for these areas.
Time constraints should also be considered when allocating in-house server management and all associated tasks and finding out how much time this takes away from the internal network, application updates and installs, and other critical aspects of running the company. Set up time constraints must also be considered when buying managed hosting.
Also take into account the costs of managed service. Semi-or fully managed service cost different sums, depending on the level of support and expertise required for each task. Costs will also vary from provider to provider. Potential costs of improperly managed servers are also important. Consider the time and costs of managing or even learning how to manage web hosting servers versus outsourcing these tasks.
Selecting the right provider and plan is also critical when considering managed service. This requires a careful assessment of the business's server management needs and which providers best meet these needs. Areas like the hosting and security tasks the need to be managed, what the ongoing costs will be, the initial setup costs (in-office server vs. Co-location), what tech support is required, which tasks need regular attention, and if the servers can be customized further should be well thought out.
The next thing to consider would be the site hosting requirements. Evaluate the technical and infrastructure of the your websites and the host. This help to give parameters for server management that is quick and effective. It is useful to think about the connectivity, the network security, physical security, data backups, and the network and software basics that are needed.
Managed hosting can be beneficial for SMBs who need the technology and expertise that are not usually economically practical for smaller businesses to have. Fully- and semi- managed hosting can make your business improved scalability, deployment and scalability. For the right SMBs managed hosting can prove to be one of the best investments, saving money and adding experience to your company.
About the Author
Domenic is Founder of www.RebelNetworks.com Rebel Networks is a leading provider of outsourced Internet infrastructure and related managed web solutions. Rebel Networks was voted the 3rd fastest growing hosting company in the world in October 2007 by Hostingreview. Domenic is an expert in web and internet technology and has numerous positions in senior management. He is a market leader and knows how to build sales and marketing plans with little budget.
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