Key Considerations When Choosing a Hosting Provider
Thanks to Datagram’s custom hosting packages and accessible and knowledgeable staff, clients are able to deliver and support their own customer’s critical hosting and managed services requirements. Each client’s individual needs are ever changing; with Datagram’s customizable solutions, clients have access to an experienced staff that can provide a unique suite of solutions to meet these needs. Additionally, Datagram is able to provide optimal backup and restoration between its wholly managed data centers in Bethel, CT and 33 Whitehall in New York City. Other providers simply do not offer the day-to-day and on-demand accessibility to support and staff that Datagram was able to provide.
DIY, in-house hosting used to be a very popular way of running your hosting business. However, today’s trends seek to outsource hosting solutions. According to data released by Gartner Dataquest Insight, the North American managed hosting and colocation revenue grew $3.7 billion to $24.7 billion in 2011, and was expected to grow another $4.3 billion in 2012. Beyond the rapid growth of digital information traffic, there are a number of reasons why the trend towards outsourced managed hosting is accelerating:
Costs: IT infrastructure requires massive capital outlays, qualified employees that cost a premium in a competitive market, variable costs and uncertainties associated with real estate, equipment, bandwidth, application deployment, business continuity, back-up and recovery solutions, and much more. In summation, outsourcing represents an attractive alternative to capital-intensive, in-house solutions – a much more predictable cost structure.
Security: Customers’ data as well as hosting infrastructure are the intellectual properties that any business relies on. This is an immense responsibility that takes knowledge, know-how and proven expertise. To be really secure, you must have the company’s complete hardened infrastructure protected from the most sophisticated mitigation system threats, both human and natural. It is unlikely that a company could cost-effectively match all levels of security that a traditional data center and experienced managed hosting provider can provide.
Resources: Maintaining an IT staff 24×7 is increasingly expensive. Today’s businesses need real-time information – all of the time. Despite harsh economic times, salaries for key IT expertise continue to rise. The rising complexity of networks and technologies coupled with the increased regulatory and compliance requirements place a premium on the most qualified technicians. Hosting providers have economies of scale, and to serve their clients, they need to maintain the highest level of expertise available.
Continuity: With an in-house solution, deep consideration of how to keep operations hiccup-free is of significant importance. Leading enterprises are placing ever-increasing emphasis on mission-critical computing infrastructure. In the event of an unplanned interruption, how ready is your backup? Good hosting providers will already have business continuity solutions in place.
What about scalability? Bandwidth? Redundancy? Power?
These are only some of the considerations. Certainly, there are more. Ultimately, to grow as a business, a company needs the flexibility afforded by a web hosting provider and data center.
There are many hosting providers available to you. Choosing the best facility for your web application is an important business case decision. It is a decision that will require at least a one-year commitment. We offer the following criteria for your consideration:
Location: One of the most obvious criteria is where you want to locate your data. There are a lot of considerations to examine based on the specific requirements of your business. Will the hosting provider offer free advice on where to collocate? Where does the majority of your Internet traffic originate? How close do you feel you need to be to your servers? Remote hands are an option if you are too far away, or lack the expertise. If you are in the New York City metro area, for example, it might be advantageous to have a site in lower Manhattan, but also have a failover site in Connecticut which is on a separate power grid and provides fiber/network provider diversity.
Type of Service: Dependent on your application, there are a number of choices. First, determine whether you need dedicated or shared hosting. If your application requires Linux hosting, you are in luck. This is where the vast majority of development tools for the web exist. Other application alternatives include Windows hosting and Virtual Private Server hosting. Datagram offers both managed colocation and managed hosting. Managed hosting can be offered either as shared or dedicated solutions, using the hosting provider’s own hardware infrastructure. Colocation is hosting your equipment at the provider’s data center. The colocation provider provides you the space, rack, power and cooling. You provide the rest. A quality hosting provider should be able to help you with all of these initiatives.
Services and Products: Products available to you from a hosting provider should include at least: managed server hosting, Internet access, colocation, managed services, disaster recovery solutions, and data backup services. Within these product sets should be any number of additional pick and choose options.
Staffing at the NOC: To adequately provide continuous service, a NOC should be staffed 24×7. The preference would be for the NOC staff to be employees of the data center and not contracted out through third party services. Each NOC engineer should be well-trained and fluent in all the appropriate protocols, procedures and policies.
Flexibility and Workability: Each employee of the hosting provider should be appropriately trained. An additional concern should be how easily accessible and available the staff is. Check the website of any potential provider for case studies highlighting the availability and satisfaction with staff. Can you access support staff 24x7x365? Will the provider give you cell phone numbers of the implementation and service staff?
Other Services: It is easy to find out that all of your needs may not be attainable at any hosting data center by the provider. Take into account what additional choices or partners a hosting provider may enlist to provide those services.
Disaster Recovery (DR): DR is more or less a process of restoration from any disruption of service. Your data center should have redundancy across your hosting provider’s data centers. And if the primary
environment is at your own office, you need a custom, seamless fail over solution in place, so that if there is an outage at your primary location, your service can be restored quickly at the hosting provider’s facility. The provider you choose should be able to easily explain what actions should be taken to assure this.
Business Continuity (BC): Business continuity is the higher, more sophisticated level of disaster recovery. BC refers to layers of redundancy within the systems themselves so that a disruption is automatically averted. To assure BC for your service, your environment should be replicated in at least two physically diverse locations. This will ensure that your data is in sync at all times, and will allow for auto-failover using one or more industry-standard methods, i.e. DNS, routing. Your provider should be very familiar with this and be able to work with you on a custom plan to assure your continuous operations. There is no one solution for every business. Beware of providers that pick a standard package off of their shelf and try to fit your applications into it.
Essentially, when making your final decision, be sure to take into account all the aspects of the entire hosting experience. Make sure you are not being fitted into a pre-packaged service that is more beneficial to the hosting provider than to you. Make sure the provider can work with you on a custom plan specific to your traffic needs. Do they load test your environment and work with you in creating efficiencies? Will they help you with a disaster recovery plan, even if you are not using their facilities? Will they advise on how to setup within your own infrastructure? Make sure your provider is known for flexibility, and can offer a custom solution that will truly fit your needs. Finally, check the provider’s website. Read about how the provider serves other clients. You want service beyond expectations.
Datagram, a leading managed hosting service provider with facilities in New York City and Bethel, CT has been the go-to partner for companies like @Radical Media, Sound Strategies, Huffington Post, and many more. With a business strategy focused on providing increasingly reliable and fortified hosting infrastructure solutions, Datagram’s experience, knowledge and know-how deliver a comprehensive solution for any businesses’ IT infrastructure. From managed web servers to dedicated Internet transit, business continuity, diverse colocation, and 24×7-managed services with hands-on expertise, the company’s dedication to supporting its customers is unsurpassed. To read more about Datagram’s solutions and capabilities visit www.betagram.com. To learn how Datagram’s business enables its customers to grow and manage their businesses more effectively, go to www.betagram.com/category/case-studies/.
Datagram is a leading hosting and colocation provider based in New York, specializing in seamless connectivity through scalable, secure and reliable Internet solutions. Datagram has built a proven service portfolio that includes hosting, colocation, data backup and disaster recovery solutions, Internet access, “smart” office design and installation, and more.