I overheard a conversation just yesterday about dedicated servers between an SEO marketing executive and a prospective client that highlighted once again how little so many business owners really know about hosting in general, much less managed versus unmanaged dedicated servers AND while that alone didn’t surprise me, what did was the lack of questions from the prospect when the conversation moved to queries about SSL certificates and servers.
Small business drives economies, but lots of successful small business owners grew and expanded their companies or organizations because they were experts in THEIR field, for everything from court reporters to plumbers. They weren’t necessarily IT or hosting literate and they didn’t have to be, at least not until just recently. With everyone and their little sister packing some sort of mobile device, conversions in sales from smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed and there’s no end in sight.
Success comes with challenges, some of those being technology related, specifically web hosting.
If your business has outgrown shared hosting and you now require a more robust hosting platform, are you or your staff adequately prepared, both knowledge-wise and time-wise to manage your own server, or should you consider renting a managed dedicated server?
Web hosting providers typically only install the hardware and operating system (OS) when they lease unmanaged dedicated servers, so you’re on your own after that. If you have a WORKING knowledge of WHM and cPanel, you’re ahead of the learning curve. WHM allows you to manage DNS zones, perform password resets, create and manage multiple cPanel accounts, check your server’s status, brand your own hosting panel and much more. cPanel allows users to manage email accounts, applications, FTP, databases and so on.
Unmanaged dedicated server? Why you should have a working knowledge of SSH!
Sadly, unscrupulous types lurk around every corner, so securing your server is exceptionally important. The bad guys possess a myriad of tools that enable them to intercept, disrupt and reroute network traffic in their effort to adversely affect other people’s online operations.
SSH can effectively reduce security threats if it’s used for remote shell logins and copying files. Why? The SSH server and client verify their identities using digital signatures, plus all traffic between them is encrypted.
Beyond an encrypted connection to a dedicated server
There’s so much more to managing a server beyond the actual remote connection. If you’re planning on running some type of Linux distribution, what OS should you install? How should you set up and manage folders, deamons, repositories, security tools and Iptables?
- Iptables – helps users manage Linux firewalls.
- Deamons – by definition, a daemon is a type of program on Unix-like operating systems that runs unobtrusively in the background, rather than under the direct control of a user, waiting to be activated by the occurrence of a specific event or condition.
- Repositories – by default, Linux comes pre-configured with a default repository, but what happens when the applications you want to run aren’t listed there and you have to add them?
Can you or your staff manage the administrative tools and utilities necessary to run your own server?
If you’re unaware of the administrative tools and utilities that are out there to assist you in managing your dedicated server, you could be throwing away a lot of production hours just attempting to accomplish even the most basic of administrative tasks required to keep your system online.
Fortunately, more and more hosting providers are offering managed services, which allows business owners to accomplish more with their hosting package.
Letting the experts at the hosting company take care of the nitty gritty IT stuff allows businesses to focus on what they’re good at. Often times, it’s less expensive than bringing on in-house staff or learning how to manage a server themselves.
Managed or Unmanaged?
Don’t really want to deal with the complexity and operational overhead of a dedicated box, but do need to upgrade your services, then go managed. Conversely, if you or your in-house staff are proficient at managing the software, hardware and network resources of a dedicated server, like possibly installing an SSL certificate, then go unmanaged.
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