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Colocation vs. Managed Hosting

20th November 2015

Many businesses are assessing their hosting options to decide which approach is best for them and there are a number of factors to consider. Hosting refers to the process of storing data, applications or infrastructure on a computer, usually a server, so it can be accessed by another computer over a network connection. IT resources can be hosted across a single dedicated server or several servers and each approach comes with its own respective advantages and disadvantages. The two predominant hosting services being adopted by businesses are colocation services and managed hosting. Deciding which approach is best suited to your business is critical if organisations are to get the most from their IT infrastructure.

The key differences

Although both colocation and manged hosting involve the storing and accessing of resources from a server located off-promise, there are many differences between the two approaches. With colocation, a business is responsible for purchasing and configuring all of the hardware and software required to run their server. Companies may also need to purchase network devices like routers and firewalls to manage their traffic.  Essentially, it is the customer’s responsibility to set up their technology as they see fit. The server is then installed within the colocation provider’s data centre, supplying you with space, power, and the equipment required to connect your hardware to the data centre.

With managed hosting, however, the relationship between data centre operator and business is very different. In this situation, the host provider will own the hardware and software, which is then leased to you, usually for a monthly subscription fee. Businesses may have some say in the type of hardware or software being implemented, but the final decision will ultimately be made by the data centre owner. All other technical services, including configuration, updates and maintenance, will also be carried out by the host provider.

Ultimately, the key difference between colocation and managed hosting is one of control. With colocation services, the customer is more hands-on compared to managed hosting. However, the latter may be preferable for businesses that do not have the time to devote to their own server management or the financial resources to procure their own hardware or software.

Benefits of colocation

The greater autonomy offered by colocation providers is very attractive for a number of businesses. In addition, this approach to cloud hosting offers several other benefits:

  • Customisation – With colocation, the business has complete control over the hardware and software they use. If you need to host applications or websites that generate substantial amounts of traffic, the bandwidth and hardware capabilities of managed hosting may prove inadequate – leading to an inferior service for your employees and customers. By configuring their own dedicated server, businesses can ensure that their resources are powerful enough for their needs.
  • Freedom – Managed hosting providers may limit the kind of content and services that you can store using their facilities. Colocation providers are likely to be much less restrictive, so check the terms of service before signing any contracts.
  • Cost – Although the initial financial outlay for colocation services may be higher due to the need to purchase your own hardware and software, subsequent budgeting is extremely straightforward. Businesses pay a single monthly fee to their colocation provider, which is only likely to change if they need to acquire more space. With managed hosting, businesses may find that there are unexpected restrictions in place, which can only be lifted by paying additional fees.

For businesses looking to combine the autonomy of colocation services, while receiving some support from their host provider, Sungard Availability Services may have the ideal solution. In addition to its core offering, Sungard AS can provide managed colocation to deliver additional services as your business grows. Our colocation services also have a large international footprint, with more than 40 data centres across Europe and North America. This is particularly useful for any organisation that is unable to create their own data centre but wishes to remain geographically close to their data and applications. Our service level agreements also contain a 100 percent guarantee for power and 99.99 percent for network availability, providing businesses with a colocation service they can rely on. If your organisation is looking to benefit from cloud hosting, but doesn’t want to cede control to a third party vendor, colocation could be the ideal option for your business.