Dedicated Servers- Are They Worth The Extra

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Dedicated Servers- Are They Worth The Extra? :

Dedicated Servers- Are They Worth The Extra?

Introduction :

Introduction There will be time when every blogger, small business or ecommerce website will outgrow their initial presence on the web and look to expand. Bloggers, hobbyists and small businesses typically start out small by taking their first tentative steps on the internet via a hosted service provider. But it will not take long before pages become slow to open and interactive features like video or audio start to lag. This is simply because they are sharing the service provider’s computer with a hundred or more other basic subscription customers. If they are lucky their hosted service provider will offer shared hosting that has e-commerce features or will permit pay-per-click hosted advertising that will enable them to make some money from their site but that isn’t typically the case. To get improved performance and to get these advanced features will require that they upgrade their subscription and move to a private service .

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The difference is that now you will no longer be sharing but have private allocated server resources. This is of course a big step because the leap in financial terms is often significant – a few dollars a month compared to a few tens of dollars a month for the basic service – and with every conceivable feature and option a few dollars more. However, the hosted service provider may also offer a premium service called a dedicated server. But of course this being the flagship service comes at premium prices. So what are you getting for this so called hosted virtual private service and might the dedicated service be a better long term investment?

Table of Contents:

Table of Contents What is a hosted Service ? What are Hosted Virtual Private Servers ? What is a Dedicated Server ? Virtual Private Server vs. Dedicated Server . Data Security and Privacy . Performance .

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Troubleshooting . Hardware issues . Redundancy . Complexity . Cost . Location .

What is a hosted Service?:

What is a hosted Service ? Before we go any further we need to define what these services are as they have strict definitions across the hosted service provider industry. A basic hosted shared service is the entry level offering that service providers make available for a few dollars a month subscription to entice you to sign-up with them. They may or may not tell you that it is a shared service where yours and many other customers’ websites will be running upon a single computer. You can think of a shared hosted website much like a dormitory, i.e. a big open plan room with many beds with no separation between them and every time a new customer arrives another bed is added until eventually all available space is used up

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This is why over time if you sign-up for the basic shared service the performance will degrade. Frankly it has to for the service provider to make any money. Now, do not necessarily be put off by this because if you are only running a standard static website that has no interactive or HD video then you will probably not even be aware of the degradation as the server gets overloaded. Yes, pages opening may be slightly slower at some times but that will be inconsistent throughout the day. And this is the big problem most of the times your webserver may work perfectly but as soon as a popular interactive site comes online they will start to hog the available shared resources and then everyone suffers. In the dormitory metaphor the greedy new resident is now overflowing out of their allotted space into yours and everyone else’s floor space. And this is why service providers came up with Virtual Private Servers (VPS) to prevent this resource land-grab.

What are Hosted Virtual Private Servers? :

What are Hosted Virtual Private Servers? If a hosted shared service is akin to an open plan dormitory a VPS or virtual private server is like a Condominium. In a VPS you still share the server with a number of other customers but importantly each customer has their own allotted and protected space – just like the Condo with its apartments with fixed walls and a door for privacy and security. In the condo scenario if the neighbours start using up their space they cannot break through and start using up your space. This is the principle on which VPS is based. The way it works is that the service provider can take a large powerful server and then slice it up logically into equal segments, which are assigned per customer. Huge advances in server virtualization technology over the last two decades has enabled a physical server to be sliced into many virtual servers each with their own segregated share of the CPU, Memory and Storage.

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Therefore a VPS is basically one physical server supporting multi-tenant virtual private servers but crucially they do share some common features and services. Just as tenants in the Condo share a common entrance, corridors and elevators the tenants in a VPS share critical infrastructure such as the I/O busses for the CPU, disk access and network connections. As a result you must consider that although you have your own segregated area you may be still vulnerable to security and privacy violations brought about by the unruly behavior of your fellow tenants. Importantly this could be a security risk for some so it should be evaluated using a cost/benefit analysis – basically are you happy in a multi-tenant environment paying a lower rent or are you willing to pay more for your own dedicated server.

What is a Dedicated Server? :

What is a Dedicated Server? A dedicated server is as its name suggests a physical server assigned to you alone so you do not share its resources with anyone else. It is the difference between a detached house and a condo it is a single tenant property but of course you will have to expect to pay premium rent for the luxury. Dedicated servers are therefore expensive but in terms of performance, security and privacy they may well be - depending on the nature of your business - well worth the extra expense. So let’s look at some of the typical reason that you may want to spend more money renting a dedicated server.

Virtual Private Server vs. Dedicated Server :

Virtual Private Server vs. Dedicated Server In this section we will compare the virtues of a VPS against a Dedicate Server we won’t consider a shared hosted service because they are targeted at those taking their first tentative steps in establishing a web presence so will be unfairly judged. The first thing to consider is that VPS are multi-tenant whereas a dedicated server has a sole tenant. This is a profound statement because if you were to think about it too long you would probably go crazy. For example, a physical computer has a CPU, memory and storage of some sort typically a hard disk. But if you are sharing that physical computer with numerous other tenants how does it segregate your data? If we go back to the condo example you might think that your data is stored in a safe within your apartment that only you have access too. But that is not the case in computing as the storage of the data is communal. What they do is tag the data so that it looks much like one of those storage box facilities where you have your own private box that only you can access. What’s more all those nice neat database tables only exist in the data base administrators mind. The problem is that computer’s don’t store data like that.

Data Security and Privacy :

Data Security and Privacy Data will be stored all over the disk or storage media that you are sharing will all those multi-tenants. Therefore to segregate your data from all the other tenants requires a tag or identifier to be attached to each data record – much like a cloakroom system where you have to hand over an identifying ticket to reclaim your coat and only your coat so that the attendant can distinguish yours from all the others. But not only is this fraught with danger it is time consuming as the attendant in a computer system has to check that every request for data is valid, which slows down data retrieval and running reports. Having a dedicated server relieves you of all those problems as it is your data alone that is stored on the dedicated server’s storage so querying and reporting is much more straightforward and secure.

Performance :

Performance If we consider like for like a dedicated server will always out-perform a VPS this is especially true when we consider disk retrieval such as multiple read/write operations. This is because VPS tend to advertise on disk capacity rather than on read/write speed and efficiency and obviously the more tenants accessing the drive at any given time will create delays due to queuing. For example in a VPS scenario if another tenant activates a large report that requires a lot of disk read access or worse updates a database table with a lot of write commands it is just like in the condo scenario of tenants hogging the lift and you will just have to wait.

Troubleshooting :

Troubleshooting If you operate on your own server and hardware then troubleshooting issues is much more transparent. After all every action and resource usage is related to a function of your own application. Unfortunately trying to do the same within a VPS scenario is fraught with difficulty as you cannot isolate specific services and resource usage to an individual client. The administrator can but you have only insight into your own usage.

Hardware issues :

Hardware issues Following on from trying to identify software issues the same is true with hardware faults. Defective hardware can bring all tenants to a standstill and the same is true for a single tenant dedicated server. However it is still much easier to resolve. For example memory problems that cause leakage or intermittent corruption of data can be near impossible to isolated to just a certain tenant. This is an important aspect with VPS because although technically and logically virtual servers are segregated data leakage still does happen. This can make troubleshooting extremely difficult to isolate and often the only solution is to migrate the virtual server to another physical server.

Redundancy :

Redundancy In any business application you will want build in redundancy so that if in the unlikely event that hardware should fail it will automatically switch over to another server seamlessly and without any loss of data. But that is not so easily accomplished with virtual servers. In order to migrate the virtual servers from a failing server automatically to another standby server requires that they are on the same IP subnet – unless of course your service provider is deploying software defined networking techniques such as layer-2 overlays. However using simple high-availability techniques that have been around and battle-tested for decades means supporting hardware and network failures means defending against failure for dedicated servers is relatively simple.

Complexity :

Complexity Building your infrastructure upon a one application per server basis was the best practice for enterprises for many decades as it made troubleshooting easier. This is why even still it is a good idea to limit one major mission critical system per box. The more applications let alone tenants you have competing for resources simply muddies the waters making troubleshooting and quick remediation almost impossible. Consider for example that you have a large server hosting several VPS client’s applications all of which may be mission critical. With a dedicated server if the application has failed it can be easily restarted or the system rebooted but can you do that with a multi-tenant system?

Cost :

Cost The price of the service cannot be ignored and that is hugely important for small and startup businesses. But we must understand that sometime these can be false economies and we would be better investing for future development based upon enhanced performance, security and peace of mind.

Location :

Location An important aspect of locating servers regardless of whether they are VPS or Dedicated is their location. The closer to your customers the servers are located the lower latency and the better the performance. Dedicated servers are typically located at continental hubs for example GTHOST is available across Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York to cover the USA. However they also have hubs in Toronto to provide service for Canada and in Frankfurt for servicing the EU community. By locating their service data centers close to their customers they can ensure better coverage, performance and uptime. It is this attention to detail and commitment to service that ultimately you pay extra for when subscribing to a dedicate server package. Isn’t your business worth it?

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