Colocation Basics - Colocation vs. Dedicated Servers
Your business may be considering outsourcing your Internet and Web services. The question will invariably come up - Do we colocate our own equipment or do we lease dedicated or virtual servers? The easy answer is that there is no easy answer. Both options have pluses and minuses. Ultimately the decision whether to colocate or lease depends upon the long-term goals of your business, the complexity of your solutions and the number of servers your business requires.
Businesses who colocate use their own equipment. The equipment is sent to the colocation provider's facility, installed and typically not touched by the provider unless there is an issue that requires immediate intervention or unless the business has negotiated a management agreement with the provider. Equipment is typically owned by the business that is securing colocation services. In addition, software licenses are owned by the business that owns the equipment. Colocation gives your business the flexibility to plan for growth, to incorporate mirroring, load balancing and other options that are not available on a leased basis.
Dedicated or Virtual Servers
Dedicated servers are leased on a monthly or yearly basis. The most common use for a dedicated server is for Web services. Dedicated server offerings are typically limited to server configurations that are popular and sell quickly as most providers don't want to stock server inventory for long periods of time. Most dedicated server providers offer very low end equipment that is not backed by any type of SLA. The service is a best effort service. Additionally, dedicated servers are usually provided as an unmanaged service. This means you are responsible for managing all aspects of the server. If you need additional management assistance, additional fees will be incurred. Businesses that host multiple Web sites are excellent candidates for dedicated servers. Be aware that few if any low priced dedicated server solutions come with any guarantee. If your business and your clients expect a high degree of uptime assurance, a colocated solution will be better in the long run.
Virtual servers are leased on a monthly or yearly basis. The most common use for a dedicated server is for Web services. Virtual servers can be configured in many different configurations and offer the best possible uptime guarantees. Additionally, virtual servers are usually provided as an unmanaged service. This means you are responsible for managing all aspects of the server(s). If you need additional management assistance, additional fees will be incurred. Businesses that host multiple Web sites or specialty applications are excellent candidates for virtual servers. Be sure your business understand the Service Level Agreement (SLA) that covers any services you consider purchasing.