Managed hosting services are a kind of web hosting where the hosting supplier takes care of the fundamental software and settings for you.
This usually means they’ll carry out updates and maintenance to keep your managed hosting running smoothly.
The idea is that you get a dependable hosting platform on which you can build advanced websites or cloud computing applications, without having to take on day-to-day maintenance tasks yourself. Managed hosting services may also include consultancy and advice from the hosting company.
A managed hosting service may be right for your business if you need a relatively powerful hosting service (like dedicated hosting), but don’t have the technical skills or time to manage every aspect of it yourself.
Managed hosting services: how do they work?
There are two main types of managed hosting services:
- Managed dedicated servers. By far the most common type of managed hosting service, this gives you one or more dedicated servers. However, instead of you taking responsibility for all aspects of the server, your hosting company will handle key areas.
- Managed cloud hosting. A relatively new service but becoming more common, this gives you all the benefits of normal cloud hosting, but with some management tasks handled by the hosting company. These may extend to setting up and running applications for you.
It’s perhaps easiest to think of managed hosting services as coming in two parts. There’s the hosting itself, which is usually dedicated hosting. And then there are the management services, provided by your hosting company. These can include:
- Initial set up. Your managed hosting company should be able to set up the hosting to fit your requirements.
- Patches and updates. Most managed hosting services include software patches and updates, releasing you from this time-consuming yet essential task.
- Consulting and advice. You will probably be allocated an account manager who can help you understand how to use your managed hosting service.
- Backups. Some managed hosting services will include managed backups, so you don’t have to worry about running data backups yourself.
- Performance monitoring. Managed hosting services should watch how your hosting is performing, to spot any capacity problems.
- Security. You may get a managed firewall (to keep hackers at bay) and managed security software, to guard against computer viruses and the like.
- Telephone support. Nearly all managed hosting services will come with 24/7 support, backed by a solid service level agreement.
Some managed hosting services allow you to choose which aspects you’d like the hosting company to manage. This can be useful if you plan to run custom software or have unusual requirements, as you can share out the tasks most appropriately.
Managed hosting: what’s it good for?
Managed hosting isn’t for everyone. It sits towards the top end of the hosting spectrum, and is more expensive than most other kinds of hosting. There’s a premium for the management services, so expect to pay at least £80 a month.
Managed hosting services are most appropriate when you need powerful hosting, without having to worry about the routine maintenance and management tasks that often come with it. It’s well-suited to jobs like:
- Running busy, custom-built websites. Complex websites often rely on a number of different technologies which can be difficult to maintain if you’re not an expert. Managed hosting services can shoulder that burden for you.
- Running hosted applications and cloud computing services. Managed hosting services tend to be more dependable than other kinds of hosting, so they’re ideal for critical business systems, like your customer relationship management system or accounting system.
- Replacing servers in your office. When you buy a managed hosting service, you’re effectively buying one or more servers, just like ones you’d have in your office. So you can use them for nearly all the same things – just you have to access them over the internet. It’s another form of cloud computing.
Managed hosting: what are the limitations?
The idea of managed hosting services is that you trade the freedom to change every aspect of your hosting for a lower management overhead. It can save you time setting up and maintaining your hosting, but it does mean you can’t control every aspect of it.
In most cases, this isn’t a problem. You still get much more freedom than you would with other forms of hosting. Just make sure you check very carefully which aspects of your managed hosting service you maintain control over. A good IT supplier may be able to help you understand what you need.
Managed hosting: what next?
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