What is a Managed Server?
Thanks to increasing digitisation, servers are playing an ever-greater role in everyday business. In most cases, servers are maintained and administered by the company itself. But for some companies, managed servers, where these tasks are handed over to professionals, are the better choice.
Managed servers briefly explained
Normally, a company’s servers are administered and maintained by the company’s IT team. Servers like these are referred to as ‘root servers’. Managing the servers yourself does have some benefits, but also comes with a significant administrative overhead. For some companies/application areas, a managed server (MServer, for short) is therefore more suitable. These differ from classic root servers in one big way, which is that an external company takes over the servers’ maintenance and administration. Among other things, the service provider takes over the following tasks:
- Maintaining the operating system and physical components
- Updating the operating system and other software
- Security, monitoring and continuous supervision (ensuring constant availability)
- Professional support and customer service
Managed servers also have other special features that you should know about. For one thing, an MServer is usually a dedicated server. This means that the server’s resources are reserved exclusively for the customer. The opposite of this would be a virtual server (short for Virtual Private Server, or VPS), where the hardware is shared by multiple parties. The physical server’s resources are then divided among customers accordingly. Virtualisation ensures that the various customers’ data and processes remain separate from one another.
Secondly, with a managed server, maintaining the operating system is entirely the provider’s responsibility. This means that the customer does not have to worry about security or upgrades or anything else like that. At the same time, it also means that the customer has less say when it comes to some decisions. In addition, the system is sometimes only allowed to have one administrator for security reasons. In cases like this, the customer is excluded from any decisions that have to be made.
Advantages and disadvantages of a managed server
One thing is clear, managed servers relieve a company of a lot of its server work and are therefore favoured by many businesses. However, MServers also have their disadvantages. The main advantages and disadvantages are listed below.
|✔ Relief: Basically, the main advantage of a managed server is the effort it saves a company. This allows you to concentrate on your core business.||✘ Costs: Since managing a server takes time and expertise, managed servers are often more expensive than root servers.|
|✔ Scalability: Hosts that offer managed servers have a lot of server hardware available. Therefore, your applications can be scaled quickly and easily with an MServer.||✘ Dependence: By outsourcing certain responsibilities, you make yourself dependent on your provider. Poor service can have a negative impact on your business.|
|✔ Expertise: Managed servers are operated by professionals you can rely on.||✘ Limited control: As a customer, you are excluded from some decisions regarding system management. You are also limited to the software and hardware offered by your provider.|
|✔ Additional services: Managed server providers sometimes offer additional services in their contracts, such as regular backups and integrations with external platforms.|
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Who are managed servers suitable for?
With a managed server, companies can simultaneously save time and ensure that their servers are secure and always accessible. This can be particularly attractive for startups and small to medium-sized companies, as they usually don’t have the time or capacity to manage one or more servers. It is also often the case with small companies that they don’t even have the required IT expertise. The scalability of an MServer is also an advantage for fast-growing companies.
For larger companies that need a lot of server power, root servers usually make more sense and are more cost-effective overall. These companies usually have more resources available with which they can hire professionals and invest in their own server hardware. This means that companies like this are also able to customise their servers to their exact needs.
However, since smaller companies generally have much less capital available than large corporations, the price of a managed server can sometimes be the deciding factor. As an alternative, smaller companies could switch to a virtual managed server. A virtual server offers almost all the advantages of a dedicated MServer, except that the computer resources have to be shared with other customers. This is the cheaper option, but the downside is that the application’s performance depends on the server’s general capacity.
When choosing between a dedicated server and a virtual server, there are a few things to consider. In our article on the subject, we explain the differences between the two server types and help you make the right decision for you.