Archive for dedicated hosting


Dedicated versus Co-location Hosting

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I got a few emails this week on what is the difference between dedicated and co-located hosting. So I figure I would answer this here. I could wrap this up quickly with the differences is essentially dedicated you pay over the long haul of the system where as a co-located plan you pay everything upfront. Also with dedicated although the bulk of the maintenance falls on the customer some is handled by the host where as in a co-location system everything is handled by the customer. However, this definition doesn’t cover all of the differences.

The base part of the Dedicated hosting solution is the host pays for the server and has it installed in their network already set to go. Many hosts have things set to be automated: you buy the solution, they turn it on, and you fill it with your information and you are set. Dedicated also use to mean that it was completely up to the user to perform service and support on the machine aside from reboots and basic installs. Nowadays most hosts offer bundled ala cart support on the server. The lines have been blurred between traditional dedicated and managed hosting in this instance. Dedicated hosting also adds extras such as hardware routers and firewalls to the package. If you have a hardware failure, the Host will move to replace the hardware.  For instance, Superb Internet’s dedicated server solutions offer load balancing equipment and hardware firewalls and preloads the server with software configurations based on the user’s requirements. Software installations also end up being cheaper since Hosts can have strategic alliances with software companies and can buy licenses in bulk to decrease costs.

The downside to dedicated solutions is that not all Hosts will configure a server to the complete specs of the user. It is like going to a restaurant and ordering Coke and getting Pepsi. The differences might be slight but sometimes when it comes to software such as anti-virus solutions, Coke can be better than Pepsi.

Co-location is different in these circumstances. When you purchase a co-location package the setup must wait for you to ship or drive the box to the Host. You have total control over what is installed, but unlike Dedicated hosting, you purchase all the software and handle all the fees. This also includes patching and upgrading software. If you have a hardware problem, it is up to you to replace hardware. Often times, co-located customers will send extra hardware along with the server and sign agreements to allow the Host’s technical team to replace hardware from this pool if a failure happens. Some Hosts do offer support packages but if costs come up then the customer pays for it. Co-location offers complete control, but at what cost? Certainly if we look at it in a traditional sense, say you have a server and a Host for three years, the hardware costs will probably be cheaper if you go with a co-location solution. However, when you factor in ancillary hardware and software licensing, then chances are dedicated hosting will end up being cheaper than co-located.

Third party server support solutions are available for both dedicated and co-located servers. This then balances out the differences between managed, dedicated, and co-located. In the end, the differences are few. They are cost, time it takes to start hosting, and hardware support. For the average user, Dedicated still reigns supreme.

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Can you Outgrow Dedicated Hosting?

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Today’s topic comes from a reader who wrote, can you outgrow dedicated hosting? At first glance I was going to say no, since colocation is like a sidegrade, not really and upgrade or a downgrade it simply is.

But that wouldn’t really answer the question (well it would but not the spirit of the question). So here goes.

Although you really can’t outgrow dedicated hosting you can outgrow a dedicated host or a dedicated hosting server.

Perhaps you have a fairly complicated web site, but not a lot of traffic. Your site is on a single, mid-grade server and it is doing fairly well. A year down the road your site gets famous and has a ton of traffic. The traffic on this complicated site begins to bog down the server, so what do you do? Well chances are you will probably move from a single server to multiple servers. Since you have multiple servers you might need some other dedicated hardware. If you host provides all of this that is fantastic. But if you current host does not then you may need to either see if you can make your site less complicated or see about moving to a host who can provide what you need.

In this example you have outgrown your server and your host, but not outgrown dedicated hosting.

On the same note you could possible switch to a cloud or grid hosting situation, but again dedicated hosting is still a good reliable option.

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Dedicated Hosting is Dead

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I was looking over the reviews we will be placing online soon (yes will have new reviews, we already posted one, more each week will come) and I have been noticing an interesting trend. Although trend is not really the word for it… I suppose standard is best. What is interesting about this new standard is that it was the biggest difference between Dedicated and Managed.

For years, Dedicated Hosting meant you lease a box in a datacenter and you deal with it. After the initial software install, you had to handle the administration of it; from software to the kernel it was your problem. The only thing the host really had to do was hardware support. Your hard drive crashed? Alright we will replace it, be about 20 mins.

And then someone said well let’s look at this logically. We could just take out the old drive and put a new one in and say alright customer its all you, but that might not be good service wise. We could offer to reinstall the software on there (this was about 10+ years ago). So we had hardware replacement and basic software recovery.

Then they thought well data backups is quite a good thing to have. We could expect our customers to backup data on their own but what if they don’t? If their hard drive crashes we will get blamed so howabout we add backup as an add-on. Then if the drive crashes we can rebuild it using the backup. In order to be more competitive maybe we should even make it standard.

By now you can imagine where I am going with this. Hardware replacement begot software reinstalls, which begot OS and hardware restarts and data backup which begot add-on service features which begot standard features and then we get to the meat of it. Support. Technical support for more than just the hardware. Some places offer it a la carte like FastServers and some include support like Superb Internet’s dedicated hosing.

And like that we now have managed hosting. I am pretty sure the name Dedicated Hosting will be around for a while, its a good name (you have a dedicated box for you and only you), but the dedicated hosting of today is not the dedicated hosting of a decade ago, by any stretch of the imagination. As more dedicated hosts add technical support to their solutions such that instead of a la carte, or having a limited amount of troubleshooting calls they have well dedicated support staff, then dedicated and managed will merge. For all practical purposes they already have.

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Data Center Tiers and What They Mean

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If a Host says they run their operation in a Tier 2 data center, what does that mean? Along time ago, it was decreed to categorize data centers by tiers. Currently there are four tiers to the system (this system is not to be confused with Internet Backbone tiers, which are a different system entirely), aptly named Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3, and Tier 4.

Tier 1
Tier 1 was put into effect in 1965. Tier 1 is the data center with the least amount of redundancy and availability. It is the most basic data center. With a Tier 1, you are looking at:

  • Delivery Paths (between server and Internet): 1
  • Site availability: 99.671%
  • Redundant Components: None
  • Annual IT downtime: 28.8 hours

Tier 2
Tier 2 was mandated in 1970. With the increase of technology came an increased need for better data centers. Tier 2 is a slight upgrade to the Tier 2. With a Tier 2, you are looking at:

  • Delivery Paths (between server and Internet): 1
  • Site availability: 99.749%
  • Redundant Components: Redundant server hardware
  • Annual IT downtime: 22 hours

Tier 3
Tier 3 was mandated in 1985. Tier 3 marked a new change in data centers. Tier 3 was when multiple power and cooling paths was added and a large stride in reducing downtime occurred. With a Tier 3, you are looking at:

  • Delivery Paths (between server and Internet): 1
  • Site availability: 99.982%
  • Redundant Components: Power, cooling, and hardware redundancy
  • Annual IT downtime: 1.6 hours

An example of a Tier 3 data center is Tata Communication’s London Data Center.

Tier 4
Tier 4 came out in 1995. Tier 4 was another change in data centers. It is often remarked that ISPs upgraded all of their cable accept for that last mile. In data centers, the difference between Tier 3 and Tier 4 is that last mile. Tier 4 data centers added redundancy to the delivery paths enabling higher availability. Tier 4 is currently the pinnacle of data centers. With a Tier 4 you are looking at:

  • Delivery Paths (between server and Internet): 2
  • Site availability: 99.995%
  • Redundant Components: Redundant power, cooling, hardware, fault tolerance
  • Annual IT downtime: 0.4 hours

An example of a Tier 4 data center is’s data centers.

So that’s the skinny on the tiers of data centers. I hope this ends any confusion on how the levels of data centers affect you. Until next time, happy hosting!

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