A Guide to Choosing a Hosting Platform for Your Business

Both colocation and managed servers are hosted in a data center, usually a highly-secure (physically and network-wise) facility. In that sense, both are in contrast to in-house hosting, where network server and hardware infrastructure are operated within a company’s office facility.

The main difference in managed hosting versus colocation is ownership and control. However, as the idiom goes, the devil is in the details. This article highlights the pros and cons of each of the hosting options as well as their implications on server security. This will enable you to make a better decision regarding the option that suits your needs.

Colocation is a kind of middle ground between in-house hosting and managed hosting. On the one hand, the server is owned by the client. However, it is housed in a data center located away from the company’s main operation base but made available by the colocation provider.

With managed hosting, neither the server nor the hardware is owned by the client. Both are provided to the client as a lease from the service provider. As such, the provider is responsible for server management, hardware maintenance, data security and so on. For scale, managed hosting will require you to request more space lease while colocation will require you to buy an additional server and expand your infrastructure.

Colocation puts more control in the hands of the client, but at greater costs. First, you need to purchase a server. Then, you need to purchase and finance the installation of the necessary hardware in the data center. Colocation requires that the server hardware is owned and maintained by the client. Procuring and maintaining the facility and equipment requires a lot of initial capital investment, no matter how small deployment is. Although, it is still considerably cheaper than in-house hosting.

Situating the data center on a third-party base helps to save space (unlike in-house hosting), but it ultimately increases cost, depending on whether salaried staff has to travel over for maintenance or if the provider uses remote monitoring and management. On the other hand, managed hosting helps to save money, but that comes at the cost of customization flexibility. That is, the client has limited say in deciding configuration options; after all, the server is only leased to and not owned by them.

The key feature of colocation is how much control the provider relinquishes to the client. The client practically controls all aspects of managing the server, from hardware upgrades to software choices, as well as security options.

In addition, to reduce the need for the physical presence of staffers at the data center, the client needs to install a remote management platform in order to run the server effectively. That does not, however, excuse a company choosing colocation hosting from having experienced personnel on the ground to manage the server and the hardware.

To some extent, even managed hosting can be flexible. Most managed hosting providers offer different management options depending on the specific needs of the client.

Besides the base level of support provided by the hosting company, additional services are often made available to the client company on-demand for a fee. Therefore, the company gets the exact hosting services that it needs instead of running a whole server with unnecessary features.

Security is an important consideration in choosing a business hosting platform. Whichever hosting platform you choose determines who controls the security of the server and its network. Regarding security, since the client using colocation is completely responsible for data center security and the server is hosted elsewhere from the company’s base, the most basic level of security would be limiting access to the data center. Using managed hosting, security is trickier: the provider is responsible for most of the security but that responsibility is exercised alongside the client.

To effect this without complications, clients should choose providers with standard security infrastructure and features (private network, encryption, access management, etc. but documentation is also highly necessary so that each party may understand their security liabilities.

From the above, it is obvious that managed hosting is often used by smaller companies that lack the required funds, equipment and manpower to host a server on their own. It also helps to cut wastage, allowing the company to purchase only services that it needs.

However, at the end of the day, each business has unique IT infrastructure needs, such that a one-size-fits-all solution is impossible.

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