Many people know that a dedicated server can be a desirable step up from a shared server, even when it’s a virtual private server (aka virtual dedicated server). But dedicated server colocation is less well known. In this article we will cover what a server is, what a dedicated server is, and what a dedicated server colocation is. By understanding these terms, each webmaster will be able to make an educated decision about which is best for his/her needs. Read on for more about dedicated server colocation.
Starting With Definitions
In the phrase dedicated server colocation, server is the main word. Dedicated is a participle used as an adjective, telling what kind of server. Colocation is a noun telling a particular hosting set-up that a server may have. So to understand the term, we need to start with the server.
- Server—Generally, the word server is used to refer to either the software—whether Windows, UNIX, or a Linux distribution—that does the serving, or to the computer system and its ancillary devices and the software, all of which are used to serve web pages. In the term dedicated server colocation, it is the second definition that is meant.
- Dedicated—In the web hosting business, the word dedicated is at the opposite end of the spectrum from three different terms: shared, virtual private, and virtual dedicated. Shared hosting means that a customer’s website is served from the same hardware as other customers’ websites. In such a case, resources such as disk space, memory, and bandwidth are shared. This is somewhat risk because another customer’s choice to send spam or pornography can impact the hosting experience of others who share server space with him or her.
Virtual private servers and virtual dedicated servers refer to the same web hosting product—a variation of shared hosting in which each customer’s files are kept on a separate partition, and in which certain resources are secured for their use alone. This type of hosting has some features of both shared hosting and dedicated hosting. When a customer has a server to him- or herself, then the service is referred to as dedicated hosting.
Dedicated Server Choices
Most web hosts offer dedicated server hosting with expanded hosting from any form of shared hosting. Customers can choose from more types of system software (often more Linux distributions, as well as Windows) than they are offered in virtual private server hosting. They can also choose elements of the CPU, such as the type and number of processor. More choices are available, too, in the area of RAM amount and bandwidth, as well as server size. These plans come with a range of options for managed servers, taken care of by the web host, or unmanaged servers—managed by the customer.
Customers with very specialized needs, however, may find themselves with a dilemma: they know exactly what type of computer and software they need to run their web operations, and are capable of handling the troubleshooting, updates, upgrades, patches, and rebooting aspects of maintenance. What they lack is a location that is:
- physically secure
- properly powered
- appropriately cooled
- securely backed-up
- provided with appropriate redundancy
It is to meet this need that colocation hosting—a service that houses the physical server owned by the customer and takes care of all these externals—was developed. Because the server impacts no other clients, the customer can customize and optimize it in any way desired.
Colocation may be offered in different amounts of space. Typical offerings include space for a single server, half rack, full rack, secure cabinet, or tower shelf. A basic power offering can usually be upgraded, as can bandwidth, which may be classified as Ethernet, FastE, or GigE. Other features include:
- extra IP addresses
- private VLAN
- cross-connects for external access to bandwidth
- managed service
- on-site monitoring
Custom configuration options can include load-balancing, clustering, and administration.
Uptime guarantees may be as high as 100 percent. Because there is such a wide range of services, costs can range from around $99/month for single server colocation to thousands of dollars per month with hefty set up fees for larger systems with add-ons. As you can see, there are many options and things to consider. Some web hosts offer dedicated server hosting with the servers already housed in their secure datacenters. If you choose a host that has been around for a while and has proven that they are dependable and have a secure environment, this may be the cheapest and easiest way to get dedicated server hosting. A couple of the top hosts we recommend are BlueHost and HostMonster, both of these hosts have been in the web hosting industry for nearly two decades and have proven how reliable their service is.
If you already have your server and are just looking for a local datacenter to house it, check with well known hosts that are in your region to find out if they have room in their datatcenter and if they offer colocation services. Even if they don’t advertise the service you may be surprised to find that they are willing to help you out. There are also sites that list colocation services all over the world, just be sure to find out specifics about the physical location, security, maintenance policies, and, if possible, talk to others that have servers housed there to find out what their personal experience has been like.