Web hosting can be done in a variety of ways, offering different levels of control and expense for the end user. For users who are well versed in web hosting theory and require a good deal of control, the choices finally get narrowed down to managed dedicated servers, and colocation hosting.
Managed dedicated servers allow a client to lease out an entire server for himself. The client gets full control over this server, and is responsible for every change made to it – administrative, pertaining to security, hardware, software, OS and so on. Some dedicated server hosting providers offer support for the operating system and applications, but this is rare.
Colocation services, on the other hand, provide external maintenance and upkeep for a server, but the server has to be bought by the client. The hardware and software configurations are decided by the client, and the colocation host merely provides the space to keep it, a steady Internet connection, power and cooling supplies, fire protection and such facilities. Clearly, this gives the client total control over the server. However, it is also the most expensive.
Here is a point-by-point comparison of the relative merits and disadvantages of dedicated servers and colocation hosting:
1. Control. A dedicated server is owned by the hosting company, and the entirety of the hardware is controlled by them. By contrast, the server in colocation hosting is owned by the client. This gives the client full control over hardware and software, leaving only maintenance and upkeep in the hands of the colocation host.
2. Initial investment. A colocation server needs to be bought. This is a much larger upfront cost than the down payment made to a dedicated server host.
3. Recurring cost. A colocation server can be left as it is for a few years after purchase. However, upgrading the colocation server will automatically raise its cost far above that of any dedicated server lease.
4. Availability of hosting. These days, colocation hosts are increasingly switching to dedicated servers, as these are much more profitable for them.
Colocation hosting, thanks to its high installation cost but relatively low upkeep, is most popular among companies who need huge databases.
Telecommunication companies, corporate giants and eCommerce enterprises are the most likely to avail of these services. For them, the dollars in rent saved add up to a substantial sum.
For most home users and small business owners, dedicated servers become the route of choice in web hosting. Dedicated servers come with the added advantage that the hosting company is in charge of maintaining the hardware. Yet, one gets to have the complete machine to oneself – which prevents virus or malware attacks on other users from impacting the system. This is one of the biggest advantages a dedicated server has over shared hosting or Virtual Private Servers.
From here, it is clear that managed dedicated servers and colocation hosting both have advantages and disadvantages – there is no winner or loser between the two. The choices should be made based on requirements and budgets – whichever you choose, you cannot go too far wrong.