Can somebody help me understand the difference between a managed server and an unmanaged one? Also, what should a $300 setup fee buy you?
An unmanaged server means you do everything yourself as far as the OS goes... any scripts, addons, kernel updates, etc are done by the owner of the server. The ded. server provider just maintains the hardware. A managed server takes care of anything.... software and hardware.
No one can answer what a $300 setup will get you. Depends on what deal you're looking at.
Well, to be honest, there is no one answer to the question, "What is a managed server?" This really varies depending on the provider and you have to look at what is covered and what is not covered before you sign up. I've seen many things assumed when it comes to 'managed servers' and you should never assume anything. Some managed servers are fully managed, you don't get root access, they take care of everything and you can request just about anything and they will do it.
Just for another example of a 'managed server', I present Rackspace, which is highly regarded from what I've read (never had any personal experience myself).
Rackspace servers are customized, dedicated servers (also called outsourced servers or managed Web servers). This means that your server is made just for you. You choose the components that you need today, and maintain the server software. We monitor and maintain the server hardware, routing equipment and network connectivity.
Now, I've looked at Rackspace many times, but honestly, I don't feel that this desciption exactly fits my feeling of what a managed server provider typcially offers. I don't know what they cover exactly, and I'm pretty sure they cover more than what this seems to indicate, however to me, much of, "We monitor and maintain the server hardware, routing equipment and network connectivity" is what every unmanaged dedicated server provider does. To me, every managed/unmanaged dedicated server provider should provide some basic server hardware monitoring (and they should maintain it as it isn't a colocated server), and their routing equipment and network connectivity. That's my opinion at least.
So just going on the above quoted page, I don't think Rackspace really promotes what they offer fully, unless they only offer what is stated (as I said, I've read many things about them, however I've never personally used them). I know they offer more via options (you can choose to have a fully managed and supported and monitored server for more money), which may quantify the statement of them being a managed server provider, just that a base plan without the options isn't anything more than what unmanaged providers offer.
A fully managed server is one that you don't have to worry about. Any hardware, original software, network connectivity, and full server monitoring ie. MRTG, port monitoring, DNS etc. You should receive support for these things free of charge. These "fully" managed servers usually run in the $300 - $1000, all depending of course on the provider. This is what I observed as I adventured through dedicated server heaven. Don't expect to get a managed server dirt cheap.
As Chicken said providers say they have managed servers, but "managed" means many different things.
The main advantage with managed servers is if something goes wrong that you can't fix, you have someone to turn to who will provide the support for you (free or otherwise) whenever you need it.
When you are on an unmanaged server or at a colo place they don't necessarily have to do this for you even if your willing to pay, and everyone has had a time where they would gladly pay to have someone fix something they goofed up to get things back on track asap.
Its like paying for the peace of mind that you can get from knowing that no matter what someone is around who can fix your problem.
Originally posted by rastoma
No one can answer what a $300 setup will get you. Depends on what deal you're looking at.
Usally the setup fee offsets the cost the the actual "equipment" you will be using to yourself.
i.e. You actually get a computer to use all to yourself, companies like Rackshack charging only $99 a month may not recoupe the cost of the equipment for a good 8 to 12 months. Charging a "setup" fee pays for the equipment, or a good amount of it.
L. James Prevo - President/Owner
Prevo Network, LLC - http://www.prevo.net Est. 1999 - Month to Month Billing!!
Interesting that this question would come up... again ;-)
Below is out of our monthly newsletter:
Supid is as "stupid does," "A rose by any other color is still a rose," and countless other sayings and clichés tell us that we can identify a thing easily.
The deluge of "managed dedicated servers" continues to hit the market place where everyone is not a "managed hosting" provider.
Most consumers are still on the learning curve when it comes to what it takes to provide true server management; and, often get behind the stick getting them hit in the back because they went for price without doing their home work first.
Let's go over a few examples. One hosting company offering $99.95 per month "managed dedicated servers" charges an hourly rate when "due to client fault. unreasonable support usage."
I can see arguments about who is at fault? Does it matter? Get it fixed! Along with what's considered unreasonable support usage.
Furthermore, the same company calls their servers "managed" because the client has a control panel for which they (the client) can manage common things such as email boxes and lists.
Another company recently stated they would provide intrusion detection system services for $15 per month.
When questioned, it came out that the systems would not be monitored by a certified technician, and that only (unscreened) alerts would go out to the customer.
So in the end, the customer (who is not a certified technician) would receive alerts they could not read or understand about hacking that may have taken place hours ago (because the system was not a live, real- time, intrusion detection).
Another provider states you can add managed services to any of their very low-cost boxes for just $400 per month.
But then try to find out what's included, and you are driven in circles.
"too many companies began to
call themselves managed service
providers when few really offered
So it becomes buyer beware when it comes to selecting a managed hosting provider.
What does this mean to you?
It means you must do your home work. It means you must ask questions.
Here's some foundational questions to ask:
Are you responsible for managing your network as part of this proposal?
What is your network uptime SLA?
Do you offer credits for downtime beyond your network guarantee as part of this proposal?
Are you responsible for managing the hardware we rent on your network as part of this proposal?
Do you have a hardware repair / replacement guarantee as part of this proposal?
What happens when the equipment we are renting from you is 2 years old? 3 years old 4 years old? 5 years old? Will you still support hardware repairs for me at no charge?
Do you do ping monitoring as part of this proposal?
Do you provide unlimited port monitoring (http, https, email, database, etc.) as part of this proposal?
Do you provide unlimited content monitoring of pages on our sites as part of this proposal?
Do you provide unlimited database monitoring for Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, mySQL, PostgreSQL as part of this proposal?
Do you provide unlimited server performance monitoring watching for problems with server load, CPU performance, # of processes, disk space utilization, and swap space utilization as part of this proposal?
Who is responsible for responding to monitoring alerts?
How quickly will you respond to emergency requests (server administration, database administration, software installation, server performance, database performance, etc.) as part of this proposal?
What ways must I contact you in order for you to respond to such emergencies?
Will you proactively install security patches and updates for the operating system and all known applications on the server(s) as part of this proposal?
Are there any server applications that you don't support?
Are regular vulnerability and security assessments included in this proposal?
How many firewall policy changes per month are included in this proposal?
Is the intrusion detection system mentioned in this proposal managed and monitored by live security experts 24x7x365?
Is working (telephone conference calls, sending facsimiles, gathering information and sending it, etc.) with 3rd party vendors for the applications on the server (installed by you or other parties) included in this proposal?
Is installing software, generating digital ID's, optimizing a database, and proactively performing day-to-day server management tasks included in this proposal?
Thanks for all of the helpful responses. My business partner and I rented what we thought was a MANAGED dedicated server from Nocster. We're not super-technies but can install scripts and usually figure out things as long as the server software is installed and all systems are go. I guess we didn't do our homework.
I dunno, I thought server setup meant that when I was ready to setup a MYSQL db I could just go to CPanel and do it. Not have to troubleshoot and fix the "ERROR 1045: Access denied for user: [email protected]' (Using password: YES) ". Then a Perl script needed DBD::mySQL and a couple other modules, but they weren't installed. The MX records aren't set up right so we're getting bouncing emails due to DNS failure. Stuff like that. They weren't very helpful with any of these issues -- we're totally on our own. That's when I realized that Nocster's idea of managed seems to be more like this:
"Furthermore, the same company calls their servers "managed" because the client has a control panel for which they (the client) can manage common things such as email boxes and lists. "