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Guide To Managed Hosting

Guide To Managed HostingMany businesses (especially SOHO’s and SME’s) are unable to meet the resource requirements required to manage their systems 24X7. In order to be successful, a company whose online presence is an integral part of its business must successfully implement and maintain the following:

- Web Site Hosting
- Remote application monitoring and support
- Database back-up, maintenance, and recovery Bandwidth measurement and scaling
- Server hardware and software
- Router(s) and other communication equipment that connects your server to the Internet
- Firewall, and other security hardware and applications
- Racks, cabling, and server-friendly facilities
- Uninterruptible power supply and generator to ensure backup in case of power failure

Hiring an in-house staff to maintain all this is prohibitively expensive, so outsourcing these infrastructure needs to a third-party can be a very cost-effective option. However, as more and more organizations claim to offer “managed services” it becomes difficult to determine between a MSP (Managed Services Provider) and a managed host.

What Is A Managed Host?

Managed hosts monitor and maintain all of the infrastructure issues that are integral in hosting a site or application on the Internet. Unlike MSP’s, which offer the applications themselves, a managed host procures, configures, installs, and maintains the necessary servers, firewalls, and other devices that the customer’s architecture requires, including the operating system, and any backend database and server support required to make the site functional (such as Oracle and Apache for example).:

Once configured, the managed host connects the server to the Web via its own network, where it is monitored on a 24 hour basis. In essence, a managed host takes on the responsibility for maintaining your infrastructure: if a hard drive fails, the host replaces it; if a server dies, the host swaps it; if there’s a spike in traffic, bandwidth is increased.

Do I Need A Managed Host?

That depends on the purpose of your site. Obviously, a simple “brochureware” site will not require all the bells-and-whistles that a managed host provides. If you are running a larger enterprise that supports a high and constant level of traffic, a managed host may be the best option for your web site. In general, consider the following questions when evaluating managed hosting for your business:

Is my web presence my primary source of revenue?
Are my Internet applications critical?
Do I need highly responsive 24×7 support, and guaranteed uptime?
Are my current resources adequate in providing support in a timely way, on all hardware, software, and network functionalities?
Can I focus on business issues and keep my servers up and running?
Can I afford to hire, train, and retain the technical staff required to maintain my web presence?

If you answered “yes” to the first three questions, and “no” to the last three – managed hosting may be the best way to maintain your Internet presence.

Why Is A Managed Host The Best Option For My Site?

Compared to handling infrastructure demands in-house, managed hosts allow the client to take full advantage of the hosts processes and experience to implement solutions in less time, at a lower cost, and with higher reliability than other hosting methods. For example, co-location and dedicated hosting plans provide just the physical space, power, and network connections for customer equipment. Anything else incurs an additional cost – which can quickly become prohibitive if you need to reconfigure your servers frequently, or have to add multiple applications. While many dedicated and co-located hosts claim to offer additional services, these are usually provided by a third-party organization or consultant, and are bolted onto the platform at an additional cost – often costing interruptions to performance. These solutions simply cannot offer the same level of reliability and adaptability that a managed host can provide.

Will I Still Have Control Over My Web Site Or Application?

Absolutely. Managed hosts typically provide the client with full root/administrative access, so changes can be made to your web site at any time. You will also have the ability to place custom code (CGI and Java), on your server at your discretion.
Are Managed Hosts Scalable?

Scalability is the main advantage to using a managed host – customers can increase their bandwidth usage and upgrade their server architecture at any time. Most managed hosts keep a large inventory of equipment on hand so that server scaling can occur seamlessly – the host makes the necessary adjustments and simply modifies the monthly service fee.
What Should A Managed Host Be Monitoring On My Server?

This is an important consideration. While most hosting providers boast “24x7x365″ server monitoring, it’s important that you find out what aspects of your box are actually being monitored, and how rapid the response time is in the event of failure. If your host is only monitoring your connectivity 24x7x365, and your load balance is only checked on once a day for example, a sudden spike in traffic will quickly cause your server to shut down. In general, a good managed host should monitor the following:

- Server reachability (ping)
- CPU usage/utilization
- Memory usage
- Storage usage
- Load average
- Virtual memory usage

Furthermore, you should be able to access or generate reports from the monitor logs, so you can personally evaluate your server’s performance.

How Does A Managed Host Integrate And Deploy My Solution?
While every hosting organization has their own processes in place for getting you online, they follow a similar series of steps:

1. Initiation and production design phase: The managed host reviews your specific, requirements and proposes a solution to meet your needs.
2. Build phase: From this ideal solution, you pick the equipment you can afford to implement, and the managed host’s team of engineers build your servers and network settings to your custom configuration.
3. Validation phase: The host’s engineers put your solution through extensive validation processes to ensure that your server is functional, and precisely meets your needs.
4. Production phase: Your solution is staged and provided to you for acceptance testing and implementation approval. Once approved, a launch date is set to take your solution “live.”
5. Live phase: A final round of quality-assurance tests are run to ensure the highest quality of reliability, security, and performance. Finally, end-users are given access to your Internet solution.

How Much Will A Managed Solution Cost?
Generally, a managed host will incur only 45-50% of the cost of an in-house solution, which gives them an obvious advantage over more traditional hosting packages. Furthermore, these cost advantages will be sustained through years of operations and upgrade cycles.

E-Commerce is the driving force in the global economy, and more now than ever, the strength of your service provider partner is critical in maintaining a competitive edge. Your partner must be able to give you seamless availability, keep up with technology, and maintain a highly skilled technical team.

HostSG specialise in managed hosting services and provide managed hosting for more than 100 SME and MNC in Singapore since 1997.