As an organization in the 21st century, you’re going to have IT needs. Big, small, or somewhere in-between, your organization is having something hosted.
Somewhere. Somehow. The question is, do have any idea what is being hosted and where?
- Are all your services (website, database, email, virtual desktop, etc.) with a single hosting company?
- Are you sharing server space with another company?
- Are your servers physical or cloud-based?
- Is your data secure?
- Is it being backed up?
One last question. Why should you care? Simple. The more you understand your own hosting infrastructure, the more control you have over it. This not only puts you in a position to potentially lower your total cost of ownership (TCO), it makes you more IT agile.
A ‘Right-Sized’ Hosting Infrastructure
When you hear the term hosting infrastructure, you’re hearing a catch-all term for the organizational chart of your hosted services. In particular, your website, your email, and your database(s).
The first categorization associated with hosting infrastructure is managed or unmanaged. An unmanaged (or self-managed) hosted service is one in which an outside provider provides the OS and the server space and your organization is responsible for installing, managing, and maintaining your own applications and services.
You provide the groceries and make the meal. They provide the kitchen. Okay, it’s not the world’s best metaphor, but you get the idea.
With managed hosting, the provider not only provides the OS and the server space, they provide all the applications and services—they also take responsibility for maintaining your ecosystem (patches, updates, etc.) and providing security (encryption, redundancies, etc.).
They provide the kitchen, the groceries, and deal with the cleanup. You just cook.
The upfront cost of a managed hosted service appears more costly than an unmanaged solution, but anything beyond a very simple ecosystem is going to require dedicated staff, expensive hardware, and physical space. A managed hosting provider that isn’t vendor-owned (companies like Verizon can provide similar services) and is solely dedicated to infrastructure and hosted services is going to be the right solution for a majority of organizations.
Additionally, managed hosting providers may provide a physical dedicated service (each client has their own infrastructure and servers), physical shared hosting (multiple clients are communally housed and ), public clouds (multiple clients share virtualized resources), or private clouds (scalable resources dedicated to a single client).
While the public cloud model and shared hosting are the most economical—think of it as a timeshare as opposed to owning a condo—private clouds and dedicated services are going to be the most secure.
Beyond the obvious—namely web hosting, email, and server space—managed hosts may provide desktop as a service (DaaS), software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).
DaaS is a cloud-based virtual desktop environment that provides a single, streamlined computing platform that is accessed by end users through a network. In a third-party provider model, the hosting service is typically responsible for data storage, back-up, maintenance, security, and upgrades.
Similarly, SaaS and PaaS are both cloud-based distribution models designed to defray the cost of similar in-house solutions by servicing a number of clients simultaneously. SaaS provides software over a network, while PaaS provides both software and specialized hardware over a network.
DRaaS—potentially the most popular managed service—provides external redundancy, failover, and backup infrastructure (hardware, software, cloud-based) solutions.
Consider TCO for Hosting Infrastructure
With so many products, solutions, environments, categories, services, kinds of services, and service tiers, it’s hard to keep track. But, it’s important to keep track of your hosting infrastructure and to consolidate your hosting infrastructure when possible.
The most obvious reason is TCO. Outside of major corporations, in-house solutions are economically impractical. Coupled with build costs and the physical space requirements, in-house solutions require constant monitoring, maintenance, upgrades, and employees to do the work, all of which comes at a price. A managed hosting provider will inevitably (especially long-term) reduce your TCO.
Beyond TCO, however, a good understanding of your own hosting infrastructure makes your organization more agile. Whether your organization wants to react to the market quickly, keep its uptime high, or pivot, knowing what services are hosted where and how they function. That’s agility. Additionally, having a single provider makes getting a grip on hosting infrastructure that much easier.
Your company needs IT, and externally managed hosting providers are increasingly economical options. However, it’s not good enough to simply hand over the reins and take a nap.
Your organization needs to have a clear picture of what you’re hosting, who you’re hosting it with, and how that vendor structures their operations. A clear picture of your hosting infrastructure (and theirs) will not only will it save you money, but it will also make your company more agile—so, the next time you need to react to market conditions you’ll know what levers to pull.