I have little to learn of the evolution of the hosting industry for small businesses. Not with about 15 years of using managed hosting and cloud services. This special knowledge, I believe, puts me in a unique position to offer advice to new business start-ups.
There are many entrepreneurs out there trying to decide what data hosting solution best suits their business. For people with no hosting background, it can be very confusing when it comes to picking an option among fully-managed services, outsourcing to third parties, or managing everything in-house.
On the face of it, the overarching theme in the evolution of web hosting services seems to be complexity. But a closer look reveals that things like reliability more accurately describe how this industry has changed over time.
Take disaster recovery as an example. At the moment, there are several tools, organizations can use, to handle this problem in-house. Still, some aspects of this issue might require skills beyond what many in-house IT experts can offer.
So, is fully-managed services the only way out for SMB Start-ups? How do you select a good hosting company? Or is Infrastructure-as-a-Service the better alternative? And what about doing everything in-house? These are the tough questions, and the explanations below should help put everything into perspective.
You Manage Everything In-house
This option has both upsides and downsides. One of the good things about full in-house managed servers is that they become part of your existing overhead costs. But then again, making this option work demands human and technical skills which are not exactly easy to marshal.
In short, the in-house IT team needs to have the skills necessary to keep this system up and running even through the most complex of technical issues. And setting up the infrastructure can be a tall order, especially when trying to set up cloud services.
The nature of the organization can also bring with it certain complications. For instance, a health organization would be required to comply with several legal requirements, which can make things a little more complex for a start-up and even make taking any other route more difficult.
Still, when the resources are available to manage all the services in-house, there is no need to pass up on this option.
You Partly Outsource Hosting Using “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” (IaaS)
IaaS is a great option for small business start-ups that don’t require much in terms of federally-mandated security compliance requirements. Provider options include companies like Rackspace and Amazon AWS which provide cloud hosting services.
In these circumstances, using IaaS is usually the cheaper option in comparison to using managed in-house services. But, at the end of the day, the organization has to hold up its end of the deal by taking care of issues like firewalls and server patches.
For the scenario suggested above, Rackspace would only provide the cloud services infrastructure, leaving many other services to be handled by the organization itself. Consequently, adequate technical skills will be needed within the organization to take care of the parts that have not been outsourced.
Without such measures in place, the whole system would be a ticking time-bomb because a slight technical glitch could have the entire service grinding to a halt.
You fully Outsource Hosting Using “Managed Services”
What started as IaaS could very well result being a fully managed service. Consider this – an IaaS arrangement could end up with so much work being piled on the in-house IT team that it becomes necessary to outsource such aspects of the hosting process as well.
Having everything managed externally can also allow your start up to sidestep the need to buy the resources required to take care of its end in an IaaS cloud hosting set up. That means lower start-up costs for you.
But even as an organization leaves most hosting concerns to a third party firm, it must still play its role in ensuring it gets what it needs.
All organizations have varying hosting needs. In order to ensure your needs are met, your business, even in its early stages, cannot afford to settle for a generic hosting arrangement. So, in a way, the Managed Services Provider (MSP), despite being an entity that serves several clients, should in practice become part of the organization it is serving; In other words, the MSP has to be attuned to your needs and your technology.
What does this tell you? Choosing the right provider of managed services is very important. The provider has to be compatible to your needs; both current and future.
The decision concerning what parts of the hosting arrangement to retain within your organization is also important. For instance, you will have to make the call on who will take care of load balancing, disaster recovery, and backups. This is the same decision you will face when using IaaS services.
Making these decisions can be difficult; and you may find yourself wondering where you will start. But a good approach is to let your organizational needs dictate what to handle and what to pass on to a third party. This is the most effective way really. So, take your time and review webhosting solutions. Find out what you need to handle by yourself and what you can afford to pass on to a third party.