Managed hosted services are where a company leases infrastructure from a third-party provider. In principle, this can be anything you need. In practice, it managed hosted service are usually based on the key elements of servers, storage, and networking. Here is a brief guide to what you need to know about managed hosted service and, in particular, how they differ from colocation services and cloud services.
Managed hosting traditionally involves a managed hosted service provider delivering a server with an operating system and managing everything to do with that server right up to the operating system. The customer would manage everything on top of the operating system, which would typically be data and/or applications.
These days, however, increasing numbers of customers are using managed hosted services to create a private cloud. Managed hosted service providers are responding to this change by offering the necessary services. In particular, you are very likely to be offered “Platform as a Service” (PaaS) options such as database management. You’re also likely to be offered application-management services.
With managed hosting services you lease infrastructure from your managed hosting service provider. They install and manage it for you. For example, they will apply any necessary patches or updates. They will also ensure there is a reserve power supply and also a secondary internet connection. If necessary, they will switch you seamlessly between different sources of power and the internet. This means that there is no need for you to have in-house technical expertise. The infrastructure is offsite, but it is for your sole use.
With colocation, you buy, secure and maintain your own server. This is hosted at your colocation partner’s premises and uses power and internet which are provided by them. They also take responsibility for ensuring that there is a reserve power supply and also a secondary internet connection. They will also create a mechanism for switching between different power and internet sources. This means that you do need in-house technical expertise. It also means that you have higher start-up and expansion costs as you need to buy servers yourself.
All public cloud services are managed hosted services. The big difference is that public cloud services, literally by definition, can be used by anyone. There are “invisible walls” in place to give each user the illusion of working in a private space, but it is just an illusion. This obviously creates potential security issues.
Security is a big issue in the public cloud, although it can be a complex one. The key point is that customers (or “tenants”) in a public cloud are completely dependent on their cloud provider to implement robust security. In theory, this could be a major vulnerability. In practice, reputable cloud vendors can probably do a much better job of managing security than the average SMB. In fact, these days, the major public cloud platforms are often acceptable to the key compliance programs.
In practical terms, there are two big differences between managed hosted service and public cloud services. First of all, there is the fact that public cloud services can be updated at the click of a mouse whereas, with managed hosting services, you need to arrange an updated leasing agreement. This may not take long, but it is still definitely slower. Secondly, however, there is the fact that managed hosting services give you a far higher degree of control over your own servers than is available in the public cloud.
For the sake of completeness, you could use public cloud services in combination with managed hosted service. In fact, this is becoming increasingly common. The basic idea is that SMBs use public cloud services as much as possible to benefit from their cost-effectiveness and scalability, but use managed hosted service when they need maximum control and/or privacy.
Really there is no “versus” here. A “cloud” is basically just a pool of resources, which can be shared between clients according to demand. A private cloud, therefore, is just a pool of resources that is only made available to a single organization rather than being offered to the general public. It is entirely possible to use managed hosted service to create your own private cloud. In fact, it is very common.
It’s also possible to use managed hosted services to maintain legacy infrastructure. This is also quite common as some companies are still in the process of moving to a cloud-first infrastructure.
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