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Managing Performance / Setting Goals

Managed Hosting. Does Someone Need It?

Dimitar Avramov asked:

So who needs to use managed hosting service? Those who know nothing about server management or others who want to focus on business but not technical issues. I’ve seen some comments in popular hosting forums and decided write something about it here.

Let’s summarize the answers posted by forum members.

Managed Hosting Is For Newbies

AH-Tima: “Its for people who don’t know how to properly manage their servers… or think that everything can be done via a control panel and securing a server means installing APF and BFD.

Voyeur: When something goes down on your server it’s the managed host that always knows first and will restart the service or fix the problem for you while control panel will often times fail to even restart a service properly.

Anatha: Show me a managed hosting that manages server without installing any control panel software, with just minimal OS. I bet 99% of managed hosts out there install some kind of control panel, mostly cpanel and sell it off as managed hosting cause all they have to do is press a button or two to fulfill their customer’s queries. If they agree to do it without a control panel, they will probably charge ridiculous fees… Managed hosting is only for those people who actually start with a dedicated server and have no idea what going on. They want to “own” a dedicated server but dont know crap about how to do it.

Zsuatt: We manage servers both with control panels and without control panels, and control panels are ok for users who would like to know some basic details about their servers or do some low level administration like adding mail users or whatever without having to go into more in depth with server administration.

MaxX: The managed hosters I have come across arent very intelligent at all.. sometimes they do things like blame everything on ‘ddos attacks’ and ban spider ip’s.. which I then have to painfully remove one by one.. and I end up finding the solutions myself as its faster than wasting time with the support drones.

Managed Hosting Is For Business Focused People

TrafalgarWeb: There is far more to securing and managing a server than any software or control panel does or can do.

Andrew: I think you are missing the point of managed hosting. Managed hosting (unless specified differently) does not mean that the hosting provider is involved in the day to day operations of your website. Adding email addresses is a day to day operation issue, not a server management issue. For this, clients are given a point and click interface (control panel) in order to accomplish their day to day activities with ease… When a provider has to manage large numbers of machines, the idea is to make those machines as uniform as possible. Control panels make this easier. Management teams don’t seek uniformity because they are lazy or not good at their job. They do it because it helps them to more efficiently troubleshoot problems and in the end it makes it easier to help the end user when they have a problem.

… People who run businesses want to do just that: Run a business. They don’t want to have their nose in a linux book all day trying to figure out why something failed to compile properly or even how to compile something in the first place.

Layer0: Some clients prefer not to ever touch their site’s control panel, ftp, etc. Instead they pay others to do that work for them. You may think it’s easier for them just to do it themselves, but you’d be surprised how uncomfortable some people are with it.

Infinix: It comes down to what you provide as your managed service and if you are going to cater for the less technical clients out there… Managing and meeting customer expectations is what makes a good host IMHO.

AcuNett: The bottom line is, control panels are not intelligent. Humans are. I could name a thousand things right now that could go wrong that a control panel will be helpless to fix.

JPaul: Once server is build and Control Panel is installed – there is no other activities from end users which can be performed on server beyond control panel. Means if control panel does not allow Shell access, one can not access server on root level. Now, whenever new upgrades and patches are coming that needs to be installed. Can that be done by dedicated server provider or managed service provider and at what cost – that may be question?

But, if you are providing root access to multiple parties (like in cPanel) perhaps Managed hosting is very crucial.

Neutral About Managed Hosting

TieuDieuTu: It greatly depends on how each company defines the word “management”. Whenever you need something to be done with the server but you CANNOT do it via any type of control panels (be it CPanel, Plesk, DA, etc.) and you need to do it via ssh or someone else use ssh to do it for you, then it’s “management”.

jcooter-sliqua: The control panel is there for one purpose and one purpose alone. To make the routine management tasks simpler and easier. It allows clients to do some things, such as adding and removing email accounts, that they wouldn’t be able to do under normal circumstances. There are also simple tools for server management companies, such as restarting services. It’s not “unleet” to use a control panel to do something if it saves you time. However, it does not solve everything, nor does it try to. It’s there to make the routine tasks easier… not to provide full on management of a server. There’s also the human aspect of server management companies… having a person who can give you advice about what to do with your server is always going to beat what a control panel can tell you.

My Reflections

Don’t expect me to say big words, especially after all those comments. It is obvious that the different levels of knowledge requires various solutions. According to one of the forum members “Fully Managed Linux Hosting Service” means:

Initial setup and configuration

Server Hardening (Security)

Service Monitoring and Response (FTP, SSH, HTTP, HTTPS, mySQL, SMTP, etc.)

O/S Critical Updates and Patches

Control Panel Critical Updates and Patches

Approved Software Install and Support

PHP and Perl Module Install

SSL Certificate Install

Troubleshooting and Repair Server Problems

24/7/365 Toll-Free Server Outage Phone Number

I’m sure many things can be added to the definition above as well as to this discussion. Hope it helps you to better understand managed hosting service.

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