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Types of Hosting and How They Differ

You probably want to know all about the kinds of hosting available to you. How do they compare when it comes to security, expertise, included services, cost, and value? We'll try to answer these questions while explaining what we do at Rackspace, and what other providers do.

The descriptions below are meant to give you a general understanding of the hosting landscape. To make sure you get the hosting solution that's right for your business, we suggest that you ask us—or any provider—lots of questions.

Managed Hosting /man·aged hōst·ing/

A more advanced type of dedicated server hosting (see below), with extended support and management delivering system-level administration and support, comprehensive Internet infrastructure and extensive services that relieve IT departments of many critical, but expensive responsibilities.

In a managed hosting environment, the provider owns the data centers, the network, the server and other devices, and is responsible for deploying, maintaining and monitoring them. The customer retains full control of their operating systems and applications. This balance of responsibilities allows for levels of security, scalability and uptime that far exceed basic dedicated hosting and other hosting options.

Service typically includes: Dedicated devices, advanced monitoring, load balancing, managed security, data storage, managed backup, premium bandwidth, service level guarantees and industry-leading technical expertise.
Things to consider
Although seemingly expensive, managed hosting is a smart and cost-effective hosting solution for those with mission critical websites and applications that need 100% network uptime, support responsiveness, technical expertise and a secure, high-end infrastructure. The provider owns the hardware, network and data centers, eliminating considerable capital expenditures as well as the extensive payroll required for regular maintenance and ugprades.
Rackspace offers traditional managed hosting, as well as managed private clouds.

Dedicated Hosting /ded·i·cat·ed hōst·ing/

This form of hosting allows customers to lease pre-configured, dedicated equipment and connectivity from the provider. Dedicated hosting provides greater flexibility than shared hosting (and entails less responsibility than colocation hosting), since the customer generally retains control over the hosting environment and choice of operating system. The provider, however, remains responsible for hardware and network administration.

Service typically includes: Dedicated devices, server monitoring, unmanaged networking and storage equipment and complete data center support.
Things to consider
Customers using a dedicated hosting solution should have competency in IT and server administration. Dedicated hosting also requires a more significant investment of finances, time, and human resources than shared hosting.
Rackspace managed server solutions are designed to alleviate the strain on finances and staff common with dedicated hosting.

Cloud Hosting /cloud hōst·ing/

The Cloud is a type of hosting architecture that allows computing resources to be consumed as a service via the Internet. Typically, cloud environments are able to add or remove resources like CPU cycles and memory and network storage as needed. Even Infrastructure services like load balancing and traffic shaping, security, intelligent caching along with dedicated computing platforms for performance analysis, monitoring and reporting scale with the environment.

The bottom line is that cloud architectures can scale to suit user demand and traffic spikes quickly. Developers don't have to constantly re-engineer their environment and cost structures to handle peak loads. Businesses don't have to wrestle with the underlying infrastructure and core technologies or the day-to-day operational, performance and scalability issues of their platform. Instead, they can truly focus their resources on developing their applications and sites.

Service typically includes: Scalable capacity and interface to the cloud service
Things to consider
Because cloud hosting is a relatively new option, be sure to look for a proven cloud hosting provider with a stable infrastructure.
The Rackspace Cloud offers a full suite of hosting solutions for your business. Need help building your cloud strategy? Schedule a free workshop with our Advisory Services team.

Shared Hosting /shared hōst·ing/

This is the most basic and the most inexpensive of hosting alternatives. With shared hosting, numerous customers host their websites or applications on the same server, sharing the cost of an Internet connection that's generally faster and more secure than dial-up connections. Because the resource is shared, server performance is impacted and security is easier to compromise.

Service typically includes: A bundle of services, including disk space, bandwidth, basic monitoring, and POP email accounts.
Things to consider
While economically attractive, this type of hosting typically cannot handle large amounts of storage or traffic and the provider offers little to no IT services or flexibility. For this reason, shared hosting is often most popular for organizations with non-mission critical IT needs.
Rackspace does not offer shared hosting.

Colocation Hosting /co·lo·cat·ion hōst·ing/

For companies that need complete control over their servers, colocation hosting is a popular option over hosting their servers in-house. The colocation provider usually only offers space for devices on a rack, along with low-performance bandwidth. The customer is responsible for everything else—purchasing, configuring, deploying, and maintaining the physical hardware (servers, firewalls, etc.), software, and operating system.

Service typically includes: Physical space within the data center, power, Internet connectivity, and basic server availability monitoring.
Things to consider
Setting up and maintaining a colocated server is not a simple undertaking. It demands a great deal of IT expertise and time. Any assistance or services rendered by the provider (if available) cost extra.
Rackspace Managed Colocation provides you control over the OS and device, without the responsibilities, inconvenience, and expense that come with housing your own server.