Choosing between a dedicated or cloud server to host your applications and data is primarily a decision derived from the control and management you seek to have over the server or multiple servers. In both cases, access to reliable telecommunications infrastructure, data centre capabilities and, in most cases, managed services is going to be important which means that the physical location of the cloud or dedicated hosting should also play an important decision making factor.
A dedicated server is a physical server provisioned solely to a single customer. Dedicated server hosting suits organisations that want to have a full control over the operating system, security, performance capabilities and maintenance. Effectively, the customer prefers to have control over the entire server environment, for example the physical access, hardware and supervisor operating system.
With greater control comes greater responsibility. The customer will ultimately be responsible for the selection of the equipment, not necessarily the ownership of the equipment, but will also be responsible for the performance of the dedicated server. Traditionally, agreements for dedicated servers are entered into for at least 12 months and more commonly for 24 month terms.
Dedicated servers or dedicated hosting, as it is also known, is typically housed in data centres whereby environmental conditions are well prepared. Some of these standard data centre features include restricted, physical access to equipment, specific power items such as feeds from multiple power stations, climate control via HVAC, UPS and diesel generators.
Typically, dedicated servers are used by companies that want to access a private cloud, have a centralised virtualisation infrastructure, e-commerce platform or just want dedicated servers for their web hosting environment. They prefer to trust their own ability to manage the environment and don’t want the risk that some other shared tenant could impact the performance of their own servers.
The management of dedicated servers is determined by the customer. There are different levels of possible management, ranging from a fully managed server environment whereby a service provider will perform all remote activity in addition to server operating system maintenance and administration. On the other end of the scale is an unmanaged server where the customer is responsible for the maintenance, upgrades, patching and security. The service provider has little responsibility when engaged in an unmanaged server agreement.
Contrasting the dedicated server offering is cloud server hosting. It can be thought of as a virtual private server because the service that is provided resides on shared hardware. The principles of cloud server hosting are great. The idea is that a customer can choose the exact hardware resources they require, including the processor, memory and storage. From the service provider perspective, it maximises the use of infrastructure and from the customer’s perspective it minimises the investment. The customer only pays for what they use. In some cases, it’s measured on a per hour basis.
Cloud hosting is suitable for companies that don’t place a high importance on the hardware. In fact, the customer will have no physical access to the equipment. The service provider is completely responsible for the reliability and the performance of the equipment. Provisioning of a server should almost be instantaneous as a cloud server can be set up in minutes. A customer selects the operating system, number of processors, quantity of memory and storage required, clicks order and within a short time frame should be using a newly provisioned cloud server.
Choosing the right hosted server solution for a business is not actually so complicated. There are a number of other factors that come into play, such as the physical location where the servers should reside and, as described at the outset of the article, the requirement for managed services. If you need advice or are looking for a solution, please feel free to make contact with me.