In the age of Cloud Computing providers and Cloud hosting companies, consumers have a ton of choices when it comes to their providers. Conducting a quick Google search for Cloud Providers will yield the following top five results:
- “Introduction – Top Ten Cloud Computing Providers”
- “Cloud Computing Services Providers Information”
- “The 100 Coolest Cloud Computing Vendors of 2014”
- “Gartner: Top 1- Cloud Storage Providers”
- “Category: Cloud Computing Providers – Wikipedia…”
The simple truth of the Cloud market is since the technology blew up in early-mid 2012, IT providers all over the globe have been busy remarketing their solutions as “Cloud Computing” even when those web hosting services are nothing more than VPS servers or shared hosting accounts.
All this said, if you are a business or company looking to invest in the Cloud, outside of providers, you have a choice to make: Managed Cloud or Unmanaged Cloud? The decision is going to require you to take a long hard look at your onsite technical skills, your IT time constraints, your IT security needs and your IT budget.
Before we get into the aforementioned considerations, the title of this article might have found you through a Google search for “What is Managed Cloud?” or “What is Unmanaged Cloud?” Let’s quickly define both.
What is Managed Cloud?
The Managed Cloud is a service wherein the user has access to all the solutions normally associated with Cloud Computing (instant data access, scalability, flexibility, and global access via Internet connection) however the service provider has greater control over the server, what can/cannot be installed and will determine what they deem to be “mission-critical” software/applications.
What is Unmanaged Cloud?
The Unmanaged Cloud is a service wherein the user has access to all the solutions normally associated with Cloud Computing (instant data access, scalability, flexibility, global access via Internet connection) however the user has unlimited access to their server(s) and can install any software or 3rd party application they see fit.
Unmanaged Cloud servers come with an operating system of choice which will be supported by the provider yet everything else installed on the Cloud server is wholly dependent on the user.
Now that you understand the difference, let’s take a look at the benefits/downsides of both.
Why Managed Cloud Hosting is Your Best Bet
A managed Cloud hosting environment is typically a longer agreement wherein the end user/business pays more money per month for a higher level of:
- Cloud Server Environment Security
- Data backups and Redundancy
- Storage Management
- Cloud Server Monitoring
- Control over the Rules Governing Applications and Software
Managed Cloud Hosting: Security
Typically, the single largest reason why companies and businesses opt for Managed Cloud Hosting is the benefit of high level security. With Managed Cloud Server Hosting finding its foundation in the provider controlling the hardware, applications and software allowed within the server, managed hosting typically tends to be of higher grade than its unmanaged counterpart.
To combat security risks in a managed hosting environment, service providers use their own tools to fight against crippling spam and a wide variety of viruses along with DDOS attacks. In a managed environment, the provider has more control over hardware and software firewalls along with having more control over OS updates.
Maintaining the ability to control what software is put on a server along with firewalls rule governing both hardware and software, gives the provider more control over the managed Cloud environment and thus, although being more restrictive for the end user, is more secure for both parties.
Managed Cloud Hosting: Data Backups
For a company which relies heavily on customer data or internal data stored in a Cloud environment, keeping that data safe, secure and accessible around the clock is of paramount concern. When it comes to Managed Cloud Hosting providers, most providers, regardless if you choose a managed or unmanaged plan, have some sort of data backup plan.
Yet, when you pay for a managed Cloud hosting account, most providers will supply you with data backup plans wherein data lost or taken down due to power outages/natural disaster, will fall back to another data center and will remain live/accessible around the clock. In an unmanaged environment, the consumer would be on the hook for data backups as opposed to the provider.
Not only does this setup make consumer data more secure, it also takes the responsibility of management away from the end user and into the hands of a professionally staffed hosting firm.
Managed Cloud Hosting: Technical Support
Maybe the largest difference between a managed hosting environment and an unmanaged hosting environment is within a managed hosting environment, the consumer pays for the provider to take care of technical issues internally without having to get involved themselves. One of the main reasons business and companies choose managed cloud hosting is because they do not have the technical capability of manpower to keep a Cloud environment going strong or to fix any technical issues which will arise.
Paying for managed hosting server’s means understanding your business doesn’t have the technical skill to resolve a majority of server issues and paying for someone else to do just that. Another issue at play here is time management.
Managed Cloud Hosting: Time Management Matters
Right along with not having the man power or the technical knowhow to maintain multiple unmanaged Cloud hosting servers is not having enough time to manage those Cloud servers. One of the reasons companies choose managed hosting over unmanaged hosting is because those companies simply do not have the time to manage their own set of Cloud servers nor do they want to dedicate the time to managing IT.
The vast majority of companies who use Cloud servers want to do one thing and one thing only: use their time to make money and improve their core competencies. Those companies have no interest in spending their day managing firewalls, fixing technical software errors or figuring out communication errors between switches and hypervisors.
For the sake of time conservation, companies invest in managed cloud hosting solutions.
Why Unmanaged Cloud Hosting is Your Best Bet
Unlike Managed Cloud Hosting, an unmanaged account provides the end user with more application/software flexibility with the added responsibility of managing the solution. For the company looking into unmanaged Cloud hosting, be advised that while you will be paying less for your solution, you will have a larger time/monetary investment in the day-to-day maintenance of your Cloud server(s).
Here are the reasons why Unmanaged Cloud Hosting might be your best bet.
Unmanaged Cloud Hosting: Less of a Monetary Stake
This one is simple yet can confuse a lot of people. Utilizing an unmanaged hosting account means you will be paying less for that solution on a monthly basis. As you won’t be paying for professional management of your hosting environment, unmanaged Cloud hosting means less of an upfront monthly monetary expenditure.
This said, just because you are spending less money paying your hosting provider on a monthly basis, doesn’t necessarily mean you will be spending less money on your unmanaged hosting solution.
If you are in charge of the environment that means you will need to spend money on maintaining that environment, installing software, managing firewalls, fixing technical issues and ensuring all server side security protocols. It goes without saying but if you don’t know how to do this, you will need to hire technical talent.
Again, all of this costs money.
Unmanaged Cloud Hosting: Time Investment
As just mentioned, an unmanaged hosting solutions means you, not your provider, will be taking care of all the technical bits, issues, installs and problems relating to your hosting environment. Before you get yourself into an unmanaged environment, you should ask yourself, “do I have the time to fully manage a multiple server hosting environment or do I only have enough time to focus on my company’s core competencies?”
Here is some advice: if you are having a hard time answering that question or you know you would rather not invest the time securing software firewalls for your hosted environment, an unmanaged hosting solution might not be the best bet for you.
Unmanaged Cloud Hosting: Data Backups
Here is the upside of an unmanaged Cloud hosting solution: you can backup your data as often and as much as you’d like. With an unmanaged hosting service, you have the ability to get more granular with your data backups in terms of frequency, complexity, redundancy levels and data storage locations. Conversely with a managed solution, the provider decides all that without your input.
On one hand, taking care of your own data backups is excellent provided you stay on top of it, understand geographic diversity is key in data redundancy and have the time/money to utilize a variety of backup solutions. Data backups on an unmanaged account allow for true granularity. On the other hand, if you are too busy to think about data redundancy and data storage backups, an unmanaged hosting account is bound to get you and your business in deep trouble.
Unmanaged Cloud Hosting: Cloud Security
Cloud security for an unmanaged hosting solution might be the largest issue to consider in your selection process. Sure, an unmanaged hosting account will be cheaper up front, will take a bit more of your time, will require more technical expertise and will require you to stay ahead on data backups yet the largest issue you will face is security.
Five questions to ask yourself:
- Do I know anything about hardware firewalls?
- Do I know anything about software firewalls?
- Do I know how to set up an internal company firewall to manage important documents/data?
- Do I know how to defend against DDOS attacks?
- Do I know how to kill various viruses that will impact my environment?
Cloud security is a complex subject and, as seen in the news, difficult for even the largest Internet companies to tackle successfully. While your company won’t be on the list for hackers and black hat coders to attack, taking on an unmanaged hosting account means understanding how to secure your environment against everyday concerns and the possibility of malevolent activities.
Before you invest in a corporate sized unmanaged solution, ask yourself, “Do I know enough about Cloud security to successfully manage the environment?”
Managed Cloud vs. Unmanaged Cloud: Choices
When considering a managed Cloud vs. an unmanaged Cloud environment, there are a lot of details to take into account. As mentioned, money, time, knowhow, technical expertise, interest and security are all issues to consider.
The bottom line for both can be summed up in the following two statements:
A) Managed Cloud Hosting is best for the company who has the money to spend yet not the time or technical expertise needed for self-management.
B) Unmanaged Cloud Hosting is best for the company who doesn’t have the money yet has the time and technical knowhow to managed multiple Cloud servers.
Simply put, if you fall into category A, the managed Cloud is for you. If you fall into category B, the unmanaged Cloud is for you.
Whatever you choose, know there are excellent providers offering both solutions.