Dedicated hosting service
A dedicated hosting service, dedicated server, or managed hosting service is a type of Internet hosting in which the client leases an entire server not shared with anyone else. This is more flexible than shared hosting, as organizations have full control over the server, including choice of operating system, hardware, etc.
There is also another level of dedicated or managed hosting commonly referred to as complex managed hosting. Complex Managed Hosting applies to both physical dedicated servers, Hybrid server and virtual servers, with many companies choosing a hybrid hosting solution.
There are many similarities between standard and complex managed hosting but the key difference is the level of administrative and engineering support that the customer pays for – owing to both the increased size and complexity of the infrastructure deployment. The provider steps in to take over most of the management, including security, memory, storage and IT support. The service is primarily proactive in nature. Server administration can usually be provided by the hosting company as an add-on service. In some cases a dedicated server can offer less overhead and a larger return on investment. Dedicated servers are hosted in data centers, often providing redundant power sources and HVAC systems. In contrast to colocation, the server hardware is owned by the provider and in some cases they will provide support for operating systems or applications.
Using a dedicated hosting service offers the benefits of high performance, security, email stability, and control. Due to the relatively high price of dedicated hosting, it is mostly used by websites that receive a large volume of traffic.
Operating system supportAvailability, price and employee familiarity often determines which operating systems are offered on dedicated servers. Variations of Linux and Unix are often included at no charge to the customer. Commercial operating systems include Microsoft Windows Server, provided through a special program called Microsoft SPLA. Red Hat Enterprise is a commercial version of Linux offered to hosting providers on a monthly fee basis. The monthly fee provides OS updates through the Red Hat Network using an application called Yum. Other operating systems are available from the open source community at no charge. These include CentOS, Fedora Core, Debian, and many other Linux distributions or BSD systems FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD.
Support for any of these operating systems typically depends on the level of management offered with a particular dedicated server plan. Operating system support may include updates to the core system in order to acquire the latest security fixes, patches, and system-wide vulnerability resolutions. Updates to core operating systems include kernel upgrades, service packs, application updates, and security patches that keep the server secure and safe. Operating system updates and support relieves the burden of server management from the dedicated server owner.
Bandwidth and connectivityrefers to the data transfer rate or the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period and is often represented in bits per second.
95th percentile methodLine speed, billed on the 95th percentile, refers to the speed in which data flows from the server or device, measured every 5 minutes for the month, and dropping the top 5% of measurements that are highest, and basing the usage for the month on the next-highest measurement. This is similar to a median measurement, which can be thought of as a 50th percentile measurement, whereas this sets the cutoff at 95th percentile, with 5% of measurements above the value, and 95% of measurements below the value. This is also known as Burstable billing. Line speed is measured in bits per second.
Unmetered methodThe second bandwidth measurement is unmetered service where providers cap or control the “top line” speed for a server. Top line speed in unmetered bandwidth is the total Mbit/s allocated to the server and configured on the switch level. Unmetered bandwidth services usually incur an additional charge.
Total transfer methodSome providers will calculate the Total Transfer, which is the measurement of actual data leaving and arriving, measured in bytes. Although it is typically the sum of all traffic into and out of the server, some providers measure only outbound traffic.
Bandwidth poolingOne of the reasons for choosing to outsource dedicated servers is the availability of high powered networks from multiple providers. As dedicated server providers utilize massive amounts of bandwidth, they are able to secure lower volume based pricing to include a multi-provider blend of bandwidth. To achieve the same type of network without a multi-provider blend of bandwidth, a large investment in core routers, long term contracts, and expensive monthly bills would need to be in place. The expenses needed to develop a network without a multi-provider blend of bandwidth does not make sense economically for hosting providers.
Many dedicated server providers include a service level agreement based on network up-time. Some dedicated server hosting providers offer a 100% up-time guarantee on their network. By securing multiple vendors for connectivity and using redundant hardware, providers are able to guarantee higher up-times; usually between 99-100% up-time if they are a higher quality provider. One aspect of higher quality providers is they are most likely to be multi-homed across multiple quality up-link providers, which in turn, provides significant redundancy in the event one goes down in addition to potentially improved routes to destinations.
Bandwidth consumption over the last several years has shifted from a per megabit usage model to a per gigabyte usage model. Bandwidth was traditionally measured in line speed access that included the ability to purchase needed megabits at a given monthly cost. As the shared hosting model developed, the trend towards gigabyte or total bytes transferred, replaced the megabit line speed model so dedicated server providers started offering per gigabyte.
ManagementDedicated hosting services primarily differ from managed hosting services in that managed hosting services usually offer more support and other services. As such, managed hosting is targeted towards clients with less technical knowledge, whereas dedicated hosting services, or unmanaged hosting services, are suitable for web development and system administrator professionals.
To date, no industry standards have been set to clearly define the management role of dedicated server providers. What this means is that each provider will use industry standard terms, but each provider will define them differently. For some dedicated server providers, fully managed is defined as having a web based control panel while other providers define it as having dedicated system engineers readily available to handle all server and network related functions of the dedicated server provider.
Server management can include some or all of the following:
- Operating system updates
- Application updates
- Server monitoring
- SNMP hardware monitoring
- Application monitoring
- Application management
- Technical support
- Firewall services
- Anti-spam software
- Antivirus updates
- Security audits
- DDoS protection and mitigation
- Intrusion detection
- Backups and restoration
- Disaster recovery
- DNS hosting service
- Load balancing
- Database administration
- Performance tuning
- Out-of-band Management
- Software installation and configuration
- User management
- Programming consultation
Administrative maintenance of the operating system, often including upgrades, security patches, and sometimes even daemon updates are included. Differing levels of management may include adding users, domains, daemon configuration, or even custom programming.
Dedicated server hosting providers may provide the following types of server managed support:
- Fully managed – Includes monitoring, software updates, reboots, security patches and operating system upgrades. Customers are completely hands-off.
- Managed – Includes medium level of management, monitoring, updates, and a limited amount of support. Customers may perform specific tasks.
- Self-managed – Includes regular monitoring and some maintenance. Customers provide most operations and tasks on dedicated server.
- Unmanaged – Little to no involvement from service provider. Customers provide all maintenance, upgrades, patches, and security.
SoftwareProviders often bill for dedicated servers on a fixed monthly price to include specific software packages. Over the years, software vendors realized the significant market opportunity to bundle their software with dedicated servers. They have since started introducing pricing models that allow dedicated hosting providers the ability to purchase and resell software based on reduced monthly fees.
Microsoft offers software licenses through a program called the Service Provider License Agreement. The SPLA model provides use of Microsoft products through a monthly user or processor based fee. SPLA software includes the Windows Operating System, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint and shoutcast hosting, and many other server based products.
Other software applications available are specialized web hosting specific programs called control panels. Control panel software is an all-inclusive set of software applications, server applications, and automation tools that can be installed on a dedicated server. Control panels include integration into web servers, database applications, programming languages, application deployment, server administration tasks, and include the ability to automate tasks via a web based front end.