Managed hosting can offer a wealth of options for businesses of all sizes, particularly those small to mid-sized companies that simply don’t have the time and inclination to handle all of their own server issues. Working with a managed host makes it possible to save time as well as money. However, with so many different companies out there offering their services, trying to find the “pick of the litter” is no small feat. Instead of choosing one right away, you should utilize the following questionnaire to help you make your decision.
Who Owns the Data Center?
One of the first questions that you will want to ask is whether the company through which you are buying your managed hosting services actually owns the data center or not. Many companies are actually resellers, meaning that they buy into a larger provider, and then sell the services to you under their own branding. While this is an entirely legitimate practice, it is still something that you will want to know, simply so you can have a better idea of just what the company is actually offering.
One of the benefits of working with a company that owns their own data center is the fact that they are the ones in charge of the daily operations, as well as any changes that need to be made. However, when dealing with one of these companies, they may not always have the same resources as the larger companies have. Both are viable options; just make sure you know what you are getting.
How Good Is the Security?
One of the other big questions that you have to ask is how comprehensive the company’s security really is. In today’s world, dedicated denial of service, hacking, viruses, and a host of other security issues are commonplace. The IT infrastructure of the host needs to be solid, and it needs to have a high level of security to ensure the safety of their customers. Make sure you know whether the managed hosting provider is able to provide actual monitoring around the clock for your server. This will help them to find any potential issues before they become real problems.
In addition to the digital safety of the servers, and the data that they hold, you also need to think about the physical security as well. How secure is the facility and who will have access to those servers? What about fire, flood, and other types of damage? Make sure you ask what types of safety procedures they have in place to help keep your data safe. If they don’t have good overall security, it’s a good idea to move on and find another managed hosting provider instead.
What Type of Backup Do They Offer?
Along the same lines as the security, you need to know what type of backups the company is capable of offering for your data. Many hosts will have backup servers that are in another location, and that will have your data stored on them. This is a huge advantage as it means that even if something were to happen to your main server, you will still have access to the backups, so that your site doesn’t have to go down. Always ask what type of backup the company offers.
What’s the Uptime?
One of the things that you will find with all of the managed hosts out there today is a high uptime guarantee of 99%. It’s common for them to meet this percentage month after month, and you’ll find that even the smaller hosts are offering high uptime guarantees. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they can always guarantee that though. Always make sure you are looking at your service agreement to see the fine print when it comes to uptime. They will generally have some type of clause in there that says that they will reimburse for a portion of the uptime loss if it goes below a certain percentage. However, this percentage may not always be the 99% they guarantee. Just make sure that you read your agreement thoroughly so you have a better idea of how they handle their uptime guarantee.
Are They Flexible?
Your company might be relatively small right now, but that can change. Your company could start to get quite a bit larger and get a number of additional visitors to your website each month. If this happens, will you be able to stay with the same managed hosting provider? Does the host have the ability to provide you with the expanded requirements that you might need in the future, or will you be locked into a host that can’t meet your needs. Working with a host that’s actually flexible and able to change and evolve with your company is essential today.
Are They Experienced?
Even if the hosting company itself is new, that’s not a reason to avoid them necessarily. What you really need to ask is about the experience of the staff who will be handling the actual management of your servers for you. How long have they been in the field working on these types of systems? You always want to work with a company that has an all around experienced staff. From the engineers to project managers and the customer service staff, working with those with experience, not to mention professionalism, can make a big difference.
In the same vein, what type of service are they offering? This doesn’t refer directly to the hosting package, but rather to the quality of the way they treat you. They should offer high quality, personal service to help you understand every aspect of your service, and to answer all questions that you might have. As you are researching the different options, you should get an idea of what type of personal service they can offer based off phone calls and emails. However, you should also take some time to look up actual reviews of the company based on customers who have been using the service. After all, when the company is trying to win you over and gain your business, you can be sure they will be nice. What happens after the initial meeting though is what really counts.
Keep These Questions in Mind
With these simple questions, you will find that you can get to the bottom of what the managed hosting providers are really offering. If they can’t answer any of the above questions to your satisfaction, then it’s time to look for a different company to act as your host. In addition to these questions, you always need to make sure that you read the service agreement before you sign up with the company. You need to know exactly what it is you are signing and what all of the different clauses really mean. Remember that the only thing binding will be that agreement, and not any conversations you may have had with one of the salespeople trying to get you to sign up!