The Benefits of Managed Hosting for Small Business

Just about the last thing a small business running an online store or a company website wants to spend time, money and effort on is server management. That’s why the best solution is to go for fully managed hosting services.

Sure, I would say that, working as I do for a provider of such services. But hear me out. I’ve seen enough web businesses, freelancers and small companies get into serious problems due to server issues to be totally confident that managed server hosting is the right answer for many.

Managed Hosting

So, what are fully managed hosting services? You’ve probably come across the phrase “managed hosting” many times, or have seen it offered on hosting providers’ websites while doing your research. In this article, we’ll go into some detail to find out the real benefits of managed hosting services and whether it can help small businesses.

In the simplest terms, Managed Hosting means the hosting provider takes care of all your server related issues. You not only rent the hardware from the host, but you also pay them for managing it. It’s similar to getting a full warranty with free oil changes and maintenance when buying a new car.

In unmanaged hosting, you just rent the server from the hosting provider and you are solely responsible for all service and maintenance tasks. There is a middle ground, sometimes called self-managed hosting where – depending on the nature of your agreement – some basic server maintenance is provided but the day to day running of the servers, including dealing with most issues that come up, is in your hands.

In order to discuss the benefits of Managed Hosting, I’ll break it down into two parts: the Technical Benefits and the Business Benefits.

Technical Benefits of Managed Hosting

Server Monitoring

Server monitoring is simply critical for your organization. It’s a process of constantly scanning the servers to search for any irregularities or potential failures. System admins constantly monitor the servers to identify such points of failures so that they can address them before they become major problems.

The basic principle here is, as the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. In Managed Hosting, the consistent, detailed attention system admins provide in constantly monitoring servers, goes a long way to guaranteeing the good server uptime and network availability you want to provide to yourself and your clients.

Server monitoring is not impossible to self-manage, but demands specific skill sets, time and money.

Security

Server security is a huge priority for any business. Server security covers various aspects of security under its umbrella such as:

  • Running security audits
  • Spam filtering
  • Virus scanning
  • Software firewall configuration
  • OS updates

Hosting providers are well equipped with various tools and have tons of experience dealing with server security related issues. They constantly scan the operating system and core application to find security vulnerabilities, which they can fix in order to prevent the server from being attacked.

Managed Storage

The storage requirements of a company can and will change from time to time. The amount of space needed now by an organization may not be the same as they will need a few years or even months down the line. Getting the balance right again requires specific technical skills and an ongoing commitment and availability to give it proper attention. Managed storage means outsourcing a company’s storage needs to a managed services provider. This is beneficial for the company because it helps them reduce the costs related to buying and administering storage services.

Managed Database

This is very much on the same lines as Managed Storage, but calls on the skills and expertise of an experienced Database Administrator rather than more generalised system admins. The DBA acts as a software and service consultant to design the best database system to meet your needs and requirements. Managed Hosting providers typically have DBAs who are, at the minimum, experienced in SQL Server, MySQL and Oracle. So as a company you will definitely find the expertise that you need.

Backups

Lost data can be extremely costly for a company. It is therefore essential to have a process that regularly backs up your data, keeps its secure, and preserves its integrity. Research shows that small businesses can lose more than 50% of their data after a man-made or natural disaster occurs. With managed services, you as a business owner can have the peace of mind that your data is secure and backed up because your hosting provider has processes and procedures in place to deal with such scenarios.

Now that we have looked at some of the technical benefits of managed hosting, let’s look at some of the business benefits.

Business Benefits of Managed Hosting

Customized to Meet Your Needs

Every company has different needs, and good managed hosting solutions go beyond a one-size-fits-all to meet your individual requirements. You can get a solution customized as per your needs. This is good because you can negotiate with your provider to choose the service that best fits your needs and the ones that are most critical to you, based on your businees needs – and budget.

Reduced Operating Costs

A small business owner already has a lot of expenses to manage. Hiring in-house system admins and a DBA to undertake server and database management is just an added expense for the company. It’s often more financially feasible to hire a hosting partner that is already equipped with people who have the experience and skill to handle any server related issues.

Save Time and Money

In business, time is money. As a small business owner, the time you spending on managing servers – and managing the people who manage the servers – is time that could be better used concentrating on your core business instead. There are only 24 hours in a day and it is very easy to spend way too much time focusing on tasks like server management. This remains true at the best of times, when everything’s running smoothly, and becomes undeniable at times of crisis. You need to be focused on growing your businesses and looking at the big picture.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that nothing I’ve said here will come as a terrible surprise to anyone who has a business that maintains a web presence. Even so, it’s not always easy or convenient to consider all of these factors at one time.This is why some businesses keep using unmanaged hosting or self-managed hosting: because they simply haven’t considered all aspects of the Managed Hosting option.

I hope this article has gvien you a better understanding of what Managed Hosting services can offer and how they can be beneficial to you, your company and your clients.At the very least, I hope it helps you to review your current situation and explore what Managed Hosting can offer you.

I’m confident you’ll find that sometimes it is simply better practice to outsource a task like server management and let the experts do their job to help your business.

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  • http://www.cujocuri.ro Jocuri carti

    Managing a dedicated server can be easier because your transfer time is less and you have complete control over your website and server, but that is not all there is to it. When you have a dedicated server you will also have to deal with issues such as selecting the right hardware and operating systems.

  • Jurgen

    Boney is completely right. I am an independent webdesigner, also offering hosting to my customers. From 2002 (when I started my company) and 2010, I used several reseller packages from several hosting companies. My experiences with low-end hosters were not good (so also so-called managed services can cause lots of troubles by being offline and unstable). But when I decided in 2006 to pay double for a reseller package from a high-end hosting company, I never had any troubles anymore whatsoever.

    Until in 2010 the affordable VPS offers became all the rage. I discontinued my high-end reseller package, and hired a VPS for the same price, but with much more space, traffic, CPU, and RAM. I was a happy guy for a few weeks, until the first problems arrived.

    To keep a long story short: from then on until this week I have had MANY problems, and I have spent MANY hours trying to battle the problems, downtimes, spam, constant hacker attacks, etc. Due to the many offline periods (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours or even days), my customers became increasingly frustrated. And I of course was also frustrated. Because I frequently had to restore backups or snaphots, there were many times, e-mails and site-changes were lost, and had to be done again. Today I have decided to admit I am not capable of being a VPS admin. It’s just way over my head, and not to be taken lightly. Even if you’re VERY experienced with computers (I started with DOS in the 80′s), webdesign, coding, etc. Administering a server is a totally different ball game. It really is! I won’t do it ever again. I’ve had enough (and so have my customers).

    So I have decided to go back to my previous hoster and get myself a managed VPS (they don’t offer reseller packages anymore). So within a few days I will have a stable, maintaned and secures server with Plesk, where I can put sites on and do the basic hosting stuff. And can be assured that all the technical and security stuff is fully managed by competent people. I pay triple the price of the unmanaged VPS, but I am more than willing to pay that. I’m a webdesigner, not a server guru!