Colo or Dedicated: That’s The Question

Colo or Dedicated: That’s The QuestionSo, you’ve decided your business is ready to move to a hosted infrastructure. Great! But the decisions don’t end there. You need to decide on a hosting paradigm – hosted (managed) dedicated servers or a hosted (managed) colocation solution. Each can be a great option, depending on your business’ unique needs.

With a managed, dedicated hosting environment, your hosting provider owns and is responsible for the data center, network, devices, operating system and application infrastructure components on which your business relies. The fact that you don’t need to throw money, time, and resources toward acquiring, deploying, maintaining and providing a stable operating environment for your applications gives you more freedom to focus on what you’re best at: running your business, writing code, customer service, whatever your area of expertise.

As this article on Web Hosting Hub outlines, there are many advantages to a fully managed web hosting solution that make it a great value, even though it may not be the cheapest solution available. Experienced, talented IT staff don’t come cheap – so you’ll want to to make the most of their talents. Your chosen web hosting provider is often better-equipped to handle critical server issues because of their concentrated knowledge, and can do so more quickly and more efficiently than your internal IT staff.

Using this kind of solution can also be much more cost-effective, as the article points out. “Because a managed web hosting provider is in a position to demand bulk rates for bandwidth, server space, hardware parts and software, you will very often save a lot of money overall,” since your provider will pass those savings along to you. In addition, your hosting provider can offer greater security, reliability, and increased performance for your datacenter and applications, the article says.

The constant availability of support and technical resources is another advantage to a managed hosting solution. It often seems that problems only arise after-hours, or in the middle of the night, or on the weekends. But having your own IT personnel available 24/7/365 can be incredibly cost-prohibitive. With a managed hosting solution, your provider’s staff is readily available to monitor and manage your infrastructure and take care of any problems that arise.

“With all these advantages, you’re likely going to pay less for managed web hosting services than if you have to hire someone to deal with it yourself. Therefore you are, in fact, procuring better value for your money,” the article said.

Traditional colocation solutions are much more of a hands-on, do-it-yourself solution, as this article points out.

“It’s called ‘colocation’ because you purchase and own both the hardware (server) and software that will host your web presence, and are responsible for properly setting up and configuring both.”

But there’s a third, “hybrid” option: managed colocation. Managed colocation is often referred to as dedicated server rentals, according to this article written by Mark Kyrnin.

“When using this form of service, the provider has a dedicated server that is preconfigured to certain specifications with selected software applications on it that the customer can use within limits. In addition to this, the provider generally takes the responsibility of providing any software upgrades to the provided applications on the system and general maintenance such as reboots, hardware issues and any backups they may include,” Kyrnin said.

This type of managed colocation solution is best for businesses who don’t have the technical expertise on staff or the time to devote to troubleshooting and maintenance. But as Kyrnin points out, there are restrictions to using such a service. For example, he says, a managed server only allows certain provider-supported applications to be run on these dedicated servers. In other words, if your applications require a software application, tool, or service that isn’t supported by the provider, you’re out of luck.

Why would you choose a managed colocation solution over a fully managed, dedicated hosting solution? A managed colocation solution is best if your business needs custom hardware or software that’s not typically provided, according to this piece.

“…If you need to host database applications, audio and/or video streaming, web sites 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,” the article says. A managed colocation solution can allow you to implement the software and hardware best suited for your business from the vendor(s) of your choice.

Along the same lines, if you need to deploy clustered servers, load balancers, redundant hardware for backups or compliance requirements, a managed colocation solution is often the better choice.

There are a number of other reasons to choose a managed colocation solution, but all come down to one main point – the need (or desire) to be in control of your infrastructure.

Which type of solution is best for you? That’s a decision you’ll have to make yourself, but with the right knowledge, you’ll be sure you’ve made the best choice.

Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from holistic veterinary care to data center technology and occasionally blogs for cloud provider Rackspace Hosting.