As we learned in the first two parts of this miniseries comparing colocation to dedicated server leasing, the difference between the two is owning versus renting. You can’t always lease or rent a product. For instance, ice cream cones can only be rented in Arkansas, South Dakota, and Hawaii. Larger items such as cars or homes can be rented worldwide, though; the same is true of dedicated servers (colocation versus leasing).
We are assessing ideas pertaining to the debate between the two options from several advice sites, primarily Webhostingfreaks.net, ITworld, and About Colocation. We started with a general rundown of the differences between the two, then moved into stronger arguments. Both of the arguments, from the latter two sources above, side with colocation – which notably gives you more control but has additional upfront expense.
Our main concern is with web servers, but we also wanted to provide pluses and minuses related to home ownership and rental. Let’s explore the subject of pets with regards to housing. Pet owners love renting especially because it is an opportunity to prove to themselves how much they love their animals. If you can find the right landlord, you may be able to pay upwards of $1000 for security deposits for your two Irish setter-bloodhound-chihuahua-St. Bernard mutts. Your dogs don’t understand money, but that doesn’t mean they won’t chew through one of the walls or attack your appliances.
What Are Your Needs?
About Colocation discusses Colocation versus leased servers in terms of needs. Major needs questions that could apply are as follows:
Do you need a great amount of bandwidth or customized servers? About Colocation argues that allowing the hosting company to determine the equipment you get and what kinds of systems and applications you can run is incredibly limiting. Granted, dedicated servers have much more leeway than a shared hosting environment does.
Nonetheless, if you have a complex site or one that draws significantly on bandwidth, CPU, and RAM, having more control over the equipment means you are able to piece together what you want in a way that is not possible with standard server leasing. Though the cost may be high upfront and you need to carefully pick out the various pieces of your server (or servers), for higher bandwidth needs, colocation is generally a good direction.
Do you need to control your own load balancers and redundancies, or do you want to cluster servers? Special configurations of various types of equipment are also more the realm of colocation than they are of a leased-dedicated scenario. With colocation, you are able to have a number of different servers acting as one redundant unit (a cluster), decreasing your chances of data loss. You are also able to set up additional pieces of hardware, such as load balancers or firewalls (the latter of which protects the periphery of your system – unlike the software version, which functions internally, at the application level). By mapping and coordinating your own system of hardware, you can create your own network within the colocation provider’s network.
Note: Again, to look at the other side of the coin, a strong hosting company provides its dedicated leasing clients state-of-the-art security, has multiple redundancies built into the system, etc. The above applies more to those who want customized configurations.
Do you need to host types of content that are disallowed by the hosting company? Typically hosting services will block their clients from being able to promote certain types of content, such as pornography. On the other hand, because colocation is more of a DIY endeavor, the datacenter won’t care what you do with your servers. However, your access to their network may still be restricted.
Do you need VoIP (voice-over-IP), VPN (virtual private network), or other specialized access to the server? Colocation will be an easier way to establish those services, and in some cases it will be necessary. When colocation is available from a hosting provider, it should have the experience and expertise to help you establish your system to meet those types of needs.
Do you need to have unlimited scalability without the chance of overage fees? When you’re leasing dedicated servers, you will typically have cut-offs in terms of the amounts of resources and power you are able to use. Typical limitations for leased hosting services include quantity of domains and IP’s (Internet protocol addresses), content specifications, and CPU (central processing unit power). Bumping up those limitations typically increases your expense.
With colocation, generally your only increases in cost will come from requiring more cabinet space, electrical power, or bandwidth. If you do need more of any of those, you will generally experience discounted pricing because of the volume of your equipment.
Before we close out for the day, let’s turn back briefly to homes – specifically the subject of relationships. Home ownership is the big winner in that regard. You get married, you have a bunch of kids, you buy a bunch of stuff, and you get a great big house. Seven years later, you do the whole thing backwards, like you are rewinding a movie. You get a divorce, you split up the kids, you break all of each other’s stuff, and you hire contractors to cut the house in two and put up a complete interior wall so you can live in a duplex next to your ex-spouse. It’s an important life experience.
Conclusion & Continuation
Of course, even just looking at the name of the site, About Colocation is very much one-sided on the issue of colocation versus leasing servers. Colocation does give you significantly more control, sure. However, it’s a relationship with a hosting company or datacenter for which you need to be prepared, both in terms of technical expertise and finances.
Colocation may be something you want to phase into down the line if the complexity of it seems too daunting at this point. For many web businesses, it never makes sense due to the technical sophistication and responsibility involved.
No matter which of these two options sounds good to you, we would like your business, and we would like to keep you online 100% of the time – a guarantee for all our customers. Check out our dedicated server lease-to-own and colocation options.
By Kent Roberts