By Sungard AS
Growing businesses walk a precarious tightrope between not investing enough to run successfully and sinking too much capital into overheads – whether that's employees, office space or their website.
If your IT team is faced with this tricky balancing act, a dedicated hosting service gives you the benefit of a server that is devoted exclusively to your business for a single purpose, such as your website. Like any technology, some use cases lend themselves better to a dedicated server than others, but there are many myths surrounding dedicated hosting that need to be dispelled so you can make a more informed choice of provider.
Historically, dedicated servers came at a price. But like so many things, advances in technology and increased competition have brought down the cost of dedicated hosting services, with a predictable monthly subscription now well within affordable reach of the average website owner. Obviously, you get what you pay for, so don't pinch pennies if your hosted service is underpinning the future profit and sustainability of your business.
Shared environments can suffer from contended access to bandwidth, processing power and I/O, resulting in lumpy performance for other tenants. A dedicated server, on the other hand, is immune to the 'noisy neighbour' issue since its resources are exclusively for your use. You also won't be subject to the soft resource limits that are sometimes applied to so-called 'unlimited' plans on shared servers.
When operating on virtualised resources, the hypervisor limits your choices and the extent of your control. But with a dedicated server, you get administrator-level access to the bare metal machine, so you can configure your preferred settings and have free rein to install software, customise and update it whenever you want.
Sure, a basic knowledge of servers does no harm, but with a hosted solution, you won't be responsible for upgrading the hardware. What's more, different levels of managed support are available – from basic monitoring right up to OS maintenance, upgrades and security patches. You'll also have an expansive, functionally-rich control panel to help you easily operate and make full use of your service without needing a background in IT.
There's no point driving thousands of visitors to your site only for them to be greeted with an error code, and you'll only be able to claim credits if your site is down longer than the host's headline uptime guarantee. Consider this: with 98% uptime, your site can be down for almost half an hour a day or just over 7 days a year before the guarantee kicks in, whereas at 99.9%, that threshold drops to 1 minute 44 seconds a day or just 8.8 hours per year.
If you cut corners with free web hosting, you'll be on your own when complications inevitably crop up. But most reputable providers offer priority technical support to dedicated server clients due to the criticality of their applications, often with a choice between phone, live chat and email. Others offer the facility to submit a ticket through the control panel and get a response within a guaranteed SLA.
The right spec can mean the difference between a visitor dropping off your site in the first ten seconds or spending a sizeable chunk of time and, ultimately, money. That means finding the right balance of RAM, storage and bandwidth to meet your anticipated needs. Do your homework to make sure you know exactly what you're getting from your plan.
If a shared hosting server is misconfigured, there's a chance your data may fall into the hands of other users. A dedicated server gives you sole administrative access, so your data remains private. Your provider should also use extreme security measures to protect you from obtrusive invaders, spammers, hackers and other malicious activity.
Nope. With a VPS, the server's resources are split between different websites or hosting accounts. Plans may come with unlimited bandwidth and storage, but there may be no guarantees when it comes to compute power and memory, so you could find yourself restricted from installing and running CPU- or memory-intensive modules or software, which could ultimately stifle your growth.
Quality and service vary widely, so extensive research is needed – it's not enough to compare hardware and price alone. There's no point having a dedicated server that is unreachable at times due to overselling or poor infrastructure, or if a seemingly good deal is subsidised by understaffed support. Don’t rely too heavily on review sites, either – almost every hosting provider is likely to have the odd negative rating, so that shouldn't be your sole reason for discounting a potential partner.
Learn more about choosing a dedicated server hosting solution for your mid to large size enterprise with Cloud & Infrastructure Consulting from Sungard AS.