At the heart of any business sits infrastructure. It’s what underpins the digital economy and society that we live in today. Whether that’s streaming, browsing, driving, communicating, or consuming – it’s all reliant on quality infrastructure to provide the experiences that today’s digital consumers expect. With traffic volumes and bandwidth consumption only increasing, businesses are having to make smart and efficient decisions about the infrastructure they use to deliver their applications, products, and services.
Of course, different companies have varying levels of technical expertise in-house so what they demand from their infrastructure and how it is managed will vary. It’s important that businesses make an informed decision when choosing which route to go down. So, to help them, here is a quick guide to managed and unmanaged dedicated services and how to choose between them.
Let’s start at the beginning: What is a dedicated server?
Being ‘dedicated’ means a server is rented to you in its entirety—none of it is split or shared with another customer—meaning you get the whole server to yourself.
This gives you full and exclusive root access to the underlying hardware, enabling you to have complete control over the configuration of the resources on your dedicated servers, without them being shared between other users.
Unmanaged dedicated servers
Unmanaged dedicated servers provided by a hosting partner are one of the most customizable, scalable, and secure solutions available to businesses. If you are looking for a little more freedom around your server infrastructure, then unmanaged dedicated servers are a great choice. They give a business the ability to choose and configure pretty much everything associated with the server setup. Including, the model of the server, the type of processor, how much disk storage, memory, and custom applications.
Unmanaged dedicated server hosting providers really come into their own when it comes to ease of setup. You don’t have to set up your own server on-prem or in a colocation space, so you don’t have the added hassle of being responsible for all the upfront costs, overheads, and multiple relationships with different vendors. Unmanaged dedicated server providers bundle these costs into a monthly fee instead.
If you are looking to invest in unmanaged dedicated servers, this is what you can expect from a good-quality hosting provider. They will:
- Be responsible for sourcing and buying all of the hardware associated with servers, including routers, switches, and storage
- Have standard service level agreements (SLAs) that they will have to meet around hardware replacement, power, and network outages
- Give customers the option of which operating system (OS) they would like installed
- Provide basic maintenance and support
What they won’t do is be responsible for any software malfunctions, security breaches, or poor performance that results from poor server management. If you opt for an unmanaged dedicated server solution, you will need to manage:
- Maintenance of the operating system
- Server configurations
- The performance of the servers
- Compatibility issues
- Security (some unmanaged dedicated server providers will repair firmware issues and provide DDoS protection)
- Installing, configuring, and maintaining any applications on the server
But as you are choosing to take on more of the management of the server environment, you will pay less than a managed dedicated server setup.
Managed dedicated servers
As the name suggests, managed dedicated servers come with greater levels of management and support. This includes the setup and configuration of servers – installing scripts, operating systems, control panels, and standard applications. They will then carry out ongoing support to ensure that your dedicated servers run smoothly, performing reboots and backups, software installation, upgrades, and overall maintenance.
Some may even manage the entire ecosystem including applications and commit to more bespoke SLAs around infrastructure and application uptime.
The most significant benefit of a managed dedicated server solution is ease because the hassle of maintaining your infrastructure is in the hands of someone else. It can be particularly attractive for businesses that don’t have an in-house IT team or spare resources to manage the infrastructure.
Where managed dedicated servers offer more support, they offer less in terms of customization and flexibility. The operating system and standard applications are dictated by the hosting provider such as 4GoodHosting, and you’ll also have less control over the performance of your servers. And of course, the convenience of a fully managed service comes with a higher price tag.
Before you make a decision about which type of dedicated server solution is right for you, make sure you are very clear about what the needs of the business are, what resources you have available, and your non-negotiables for what you want from your infrastructure. Then do your homework around the services that each hosting provider offers, including SLAs and the level of support they offer. If something goes wrong, do you feel confident that the hosting provider will be transparent and communicative?
It’s also important to remember that there are many different hosting providers out there, but the best tend to specialize either in managed or unmanaged dedicated servers, not both.