Making the Business and IT Case for Dedicated Hosting

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1 Making the Business and IT Case for Dedicated Hosting Overview Dedicated hosting is a popular way to operate servers and devices without owning the hardware and running a private data centre. Dedicated servers and hosting solutions combine total control over access and usage with the benefits of short-term contracts, low setup fees, and superior, professionally-managed, data centre infrastructure. Dedicated servers are more powerful than shared and cloud servers, and are an ideal choice for businesses that wish to administer servers hands-on, without spending capital for hardware and data centre facilities. Here we explore dedicated server hosting, compare it to other hosting types, and review how to choose the right provider. Why Businesses Choose Dedicated Hosting They prefer to deduct hosting costs as an OPEX rather than amortise devices over time as CAPEX. They want the control that comes with root/admin access without owning a server. They want the sole use of a powerful server for better performance and tighter security. They want the freedom to load as many domains, sites, or accounts as they wish, without the limitations of shared and cloud servers. They make frequent changes to the operating system and applications at a moment s notice often application developers or system integrators. They want to use applications not supported by an ISP, and have the specialised IT staff to support the server. They want to leverage the benefits and scalability of a professional data centre. How Outsourced Hosting Compares to Hosting In- House From the outset, it is important to understand what your servers functions are. Their functions often help determine if they should be outsourced or remain in-house. Servers are used for internal purposes (e.g. to serve documents, share printers, track customers, process orders, or record financial data) and for external purposes via the Internet (e.g. to host web sites and web apps, conduct sales, or stream video and audio files). Web-centric enterprises, and companies with satellite offices, often operate application servers to collaborate or run business applications. When they run on an internal network, and isolated from the Internet and the outside world, devices in local use can be more responsive and secure depending upon the internal IT infrastructure of a business and their building. In contrast, web servers used to disseminate content worldwide, and servers accessed by many satellite facilities, typically perform best from a professional data centre. The most common driver for hosting in-house is that it provides utmost control over Copyright 2013, On Direct Business Services Limited. 1

2 Increased Performance at a Lower Cost Outsourcing to a professional data centre managed by a reputable Internet Service Provide or hosting company leads to the inherent benefit of better, cost effective performance from the servers to the external network connecting businesses to the end user. the hardware, software and internal network if a business has the financial and the personnel resources to maintain, upgrade and grow their internal infrastructure. On the other hand, outsourced hosting frees your business from the CAPEX burden that comes with the commitment to a long-lived internal data centre. It also frees your IT staff to varying degrees based on whether you choose dedicated, colocation, managed, cloud, or a hybrid mix of these hosting solutions to focus on core business and revenue generating activities. Colocation, Versus In-house, Works Best When Servers: Serve data through the Internet. Are accessed from many, dispersed, remote locations. Send and receive small-medium size files directly (large ones with a delivery network). Operate around the clock. Must be equally available anywhere, anytime. Finding the Hosting Solution That s the Right Match Colocation Businesses that deploy their own servers and devices off-site at an ISP s data centre, and let their IT staff service and maintain physical control over them, use colocation. They are using colocation to leverage the data centre and network technologies and expertise of the hosting ISP. This is unique in that with other hosting solutions the ISP owns the servers and devices. Shared Hosting In shared hosting, servers owned by the ISP are shared by many paying customers that are allotted disk space on a shared drive. Shared hosting is inexpensive, and requires few technical skills such as generating and uploading web pages. Unfortunately the lower price is counterbalanced by security and performance risks, since you are sharing the server s resources with other businesses and their users. Mission critical sites, apps and data should not reside on shared servers or devices of any kind. Public Cloud Hosting Public cloud servers are virtual machines that act like dedicated servers but reside on a massive shared platform. Since they share a hardware platform with thousands, if not tens of thousands, other customers, their resources and performance are still limited. Yet the price point is attractive if the solution fits business and regulatory needs. Private Cloud Hosting Private clouds which combine physical servers (owned by the ISP) on which cloud servers (virtual machines) reside. They are dedicated environments usually leased to a sole business by a hosting provider, hence the private nature of the solution. These configurations are high availability and reliability solutions that incorporate the best features and benefits of both dedicated and cloud hosting. Dedicated Hosting Copyright 2013, On Direct Business Services Limited. 2

3 With dedicated hosting, servers are owned by the ISP, and leased to a single entity. The customer commands all server and device resources, leading to tight security and high performance. Dedicated server administrators have complete access and total control over hardware and software. They can install, remove, modify and reconfigure the operating system and applications. Managed Hosting Managed servers and devices are simply dedicated hosting, but the ISP also manages and administers on behalf of the customer. This is a truly hands-off approach for businesses who prefer them to focus their IT resources on development and long-term business objectives rather than day-to-day tasks related to managing servers, devices, data centres, and networks. The Business Case for Using Dedicated Hosting Dedicated servers provide the advantage of low cost, absolute control, excellent performance, flexibility and scalability. This is not to say it is the solution for every business, but there are many compelling reasons for businesses to opt for colocation. Cost Dedicated servers offer a high return on investment, and reduce the need for an expensive data centre, hardware and technical support personnel. Low Monthly Cost - Dedicated servers start at under 62/month and the subscription based service fall under OPEX and not CAPEX. Minimal Initial Cost - Since dedicated hosting providers own the hardware and businesses lease it, the upfront cost is minimal and most providers offer free setup and installation. Operating Expense - Not only do businesses avoid capital expenditures, leasing dedicated servers and devices is a tax-deductible expenditure. Free Extras - More established hosting providers provide free services such as IP address(es), ample bandwidth, DNS hosting and basic device monitoring. Performance Beyond the servers, data centres and their internal networks and expert staff deliver fast and reliable performance, with the following features. Continuity - Service disruptions are minimised by redundant power systems and Internet connections, fire suppression systems, temperature, humidity and dust control within the data centre. Connectivity - Large independent pipes to multiple bandwidth providers assure high throughput, fast and reliable Internet connections and lower network latency. Monitoring - Technicians and monitoring tools ensure servers, devices and the network are running as intended. Support - Hosting providers experienced engineers and system administrators address and resolve issues quickly, if not proactively. Control As a single user on a dedicated hosting solution, the business controls their entire environment. Copyright 2013, On Direct Business Services Limited. 3

4 Root Access - Businesses retain complete freedom to add, remove, or customise software on dedicated servers and devices. Full Resources - A device s total power can be directed to accelerate its performance without the hosting provider placing limits. Access Control - Strict limits and permissions can be placed on users access to storage and other services. Flexible Usage - A business IT department can run unlimited domains, boxes, applications, and users per server. Flexibility A large selection of providers, operating environments and applications make it easy to get started, change direction or migrate. Short Lead Time - Businesses retain complete freedom to add, remove, or customise software on dedicated servers and devices. Minimal Requirements to Start - A device s total power can be directed to accelerate its performance without the hosting provider placing limits. Short-term Contracts - Strict limits and permissions can be placed on user s access to storage and other services. Operating System (OS) Options - Typically, businesses have the choice of many Windows, Linux and Unix versions. Remote Administration - Servers and devices can be managed with remote desktop, web interfaces, or from the command line via secure shells. Hybrid Environments - Larger dedicated hosting environments can often tie into the hosting provider s other hosting solutions such as cloud hosting, managed hosting and colocation hosting. Control Panels - ISPs bundle administration and automation tools, letting users run device administration tasks through intuitive graphical user interfaces. Scalability Dedicated servers are surprisingly easy to upgrade - or downgrade. Hardware Variety - Servers with 1 to 8 cores, 1 to 32 GB RAM, 32-bit and 64-bit motherboards leave plenty of room to grow. When Colocation is Smarter Than Dedicated Hosting Businesses that wish to utilise non-standard servers, use hardware or commercial software they already own, install an operating system not supported by the ISP, or perform physical maintenance on their devices, should consider colocation, instead. Ample Resources - A well-run data centre should have plenty of ready-to-use capacity for additional servers and bandwidth. Short Lead Time - Add as many servers as you wish in a matter of hours. Easy Upgrades - Moving to a more powerful server is as easy as moving a drive, and even simpler with central storage systems. Adding Capacity - Memory, storage and networking speed can be quickly increased with a service request to the hosting provider. Adding Bandwidth - There are no waits for fibre and no installation fees. Increasing bandwidth speed and allocated capacity takes literally minutes. Up and Down Scaling - Growing your configuration to address changing capacity and traffic needs is painless and fast. Copyright 2013, On Direct Business Services Limited. 4

5 How to Select a Dedicated Hosting Provider Not all dedicated hosting ISPs are equal or alike. Once a business settles upon a dedicated hosting solution, there are factors to take into consideration when comparing providers. Infrastructure Reliability - Host in a well constructed data centre with high quality and redundant power, cooling and Internet connections, as well as fire suppression systems and security protocols. Physical Hardware - Verify the quality of the servers, load balancers, firewalls, etc., but also ask about the data centre s routers, generators. Stability and Availability - Demand a proven track record of stable, uninterrupted service, few outages, and fast recovery time. Check with online third parties that review and judge uptime performance. Network Speed and Performance - Read third-party reviews of a provider s network and ask potential providers to demonstrate their network speed. Do not take their word for it. Peering and Carriers - Prefer an ISP with multiple Tier 1 upstream providers and other quality networks. If you need a particular carrier, verify that your provider is peering with it, or has upstream access to it. Software Support - Find a provider with expertise in the operating system, control panel, database, shopping basket, web server, or content management system you intend to use. Technical Support - Look for outstanding technical support bolstered by attentive, responsive, competent staff and clear service level agreements. Service Level Agreements (SLAs) - The clearer the guarantees the better. Be sure the power uptime, network uptime and hardware repair/replacement SLAs have penalties for the providers that are not riddled with loopholes. Location - Find a data centre close to your target audience. If you serve different geographical areas, select an ISP with multiple locations in desirable regions. Network Operation Center (NOC) - Use providers with 24x7x365 live, on premises NOC support, and beware of those that rely on the NOCs of other networks. Conclusion For those with the specialised in-house staff to remotely manage servers and devices, dedicated hosting is an effective way to maintain access and control over server software and usage, without spending a penny on hardware. Dedicated servers offer speed, stability, reliability, availability and continuity, and the benefit of flexibility and scalability with minimal upfront investment, short-term contracts and affordable fixed monthly fees. It is an ideal choice for any size business with expertise in server administration and software management, time and desire to be in charge of its servers. Dedicated hosting merits consideration by anyone wishing to quickly deploy servers close to the customers in faraway locations, and enjoy fast and wide reach. Copyright 2013, On Direct Business Services Limited. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. The Tramshed, Walcot Street, Bath, BA1 5BB Company Number: , VAT Number: Sales: Service:

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