9 Questions Hosting Providers Better Be Prepared To Answer12:00 PM EST Mon. Mar. 25, 2013
Managed hosting and co-location have long been effective options for helping companies focus on their core business propositions while leaving the context of information technology to contractors. Datagram, a New York-based hosting and co-location provider, recently issued a white paper examining key criteria in the selection of service providers. Here are nine top concerns potential customers will have.
On-premise IT infrastructure can be massively expensive. Hosted services -- depending on what they are, how they are used and how they are managed -- can be decidedly less so. Hosting providers are well aware that cost savings are a major concern of potential customers and that they need to promote their ability to reduce expenses.
You can't swing your arm nowadays without hitting a story about data breaches, accidental exposures and sometimes even systematic, weaponized attacks against IT infrastructure. All these things raise the game for security and drive home the need for hosting providers to make sure their customers are well-protected. Datagram recommends providers offer a hardened infrastructure that is protected against the most sophisticated human attacks, natural disasters and the full range of threats.
Keeping service up and running on a 24/7 basis 365 days a year is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to hosted services. This is particularly true when it comes to applications that customers consider mission-critical. It makes sense to gravitate toward providers that have a solid track record for reliability. Effective business continuity solutions need to be in place, just in case things do go wrong, according to Datagram. Along those lines, the company also says customers will inquire about scalability, bandwidth, redundancy and power.
Key considerations, according to Datagram, include the location from which most of the traffic originates or is going to. General proximity to the servers typically helps to boost performance. The company advises that if a customer is in the New York City metro area, for example, it might be advantageous to have a site in lower Manhattan, but also have a failover site in Connecticut, which is on a separate power grid.
Customers will be choosing between dedicated and shared hosting, based on the specific needs of their applications, resource levels, etc. At that point, other decisions need to be made, regarding the selection of Linux, Windows or Virtual Private Server hosting. Managed hosting can be offered using the provider's own equipment, or the customer may opt to use their own gear tucked within the cages of a co-location facility.
Products and services can vary widely from one hosting provider to another based on targeted verticals and other specialties chosen by the provider. Datagram sets the table stakes at managed server hosting, Internet access, co-location, managed services, disaster recovery solutions and data backup services.
Service providers that have their network operations centers staffed on a 24/7 basis to better ensure continuous service will be in demand. Datagram also recommends that the individuals staffing the NOC be actual employees of the provider, as opposed to contractors employed by a third party. Each individual working at the NOC needs to be fully trained in appropriate protocols, procedures and policies. Accessibility of the staff also factors into the equation.
Disaster recovery relates to a specified methodology associated with recovering from a disruption in service. In most cases, hosting providers will be in a solid position to assist and advise customers on this requirement. This is something that hosting providers should fully anticipate and develop a variety of options from which the customer can choose. The emphasis here is on the fast and efficient resumption of service, but disaster recovery does not typically include the redundancy necessary to eliminate outages altogether.
Business continuity is intended to add layers of redundancy aimed at maintaining ongoing access to the data, even if part of the IT infrastructure goes down. Datagram recommends the customer data be replicated in at least two different locations so that one location can carry the load when the second location is out of service. Well-prepackaged services are often promoted as the most cost-effective but customers will want to make sure that the proposed solution closely reflects their needs. In many cases, this translates to a more customized solution, or a certain level of customization applied to the prepackaged offering.