I got a few emails this week on what is the difference between dedicated and co-located hosting. So I figure I would answer this here. I could wrap this up quickly with the differences is essentially dedicated you pay over the long haul of the system where as a co-located plan you pay everything upfront. Also with dedicated although the bulk of the maintenance falls on the customer some is handled by the host where as in a co-location system everything is handled by the customer. However, this definition doesn’t cover all of the differences.
The base part of the Dedicated hosting solution is the host pays for the server and has it installed in their network already set to go. Many hosts have things set to be automated: you buy the solution, they turn it on, and you fill it with your information and you are set. Dedicated also use to mean that it was completely up to the user to perform service and support on the machine aside from reboots and basic installs. Nowadays most hosts offer bundled ala cart support on the server. The lines have been blurred between traditional dedicated and managed hosting in this instance. Dedicated hosting also adds extras such as hardware routers and firewalls to the package. If you have a hardware failure, the Host will move to replace the hardware. For instance, Superb Internet’s dedicated server solutions offer load balancing equipment and hardware firewalls and preloads the server with software configurations based on the user’s requirements. Software installations also end up being cheaper since Hosts can have strategic alliances with software companies and can buy licenses in bulk to decrease costs.
The downside to dedicated solutions is that not all Hosts will configure a server to the complete specs of the user. It is like going to a restaurant and ordering Coke and getting Pepsi. The differences might be slight but sometimes when it comes to software such as anti-virus solutions, Coke can be better than Pepsi.
Co-location is different in these circumstances. When you purchase a co-location package the setup must wait for you to ship or drive the box to the Host. You have total control over what is installed, but unlike Dedicated hosting, you purchase all the software and handle all the fees. This also includes patching and upgrading software. If you have a hardware problem, it is up to you to replace hardware. Often times, co-located customers will send extra hardware along with the server and sign agreements to allow the Host’s technical team to replace hardware from this pool if a failure happens. Some Hosts do offer support packages but if costs come up then the customer pays for it. Co-location offers complete control, but at what cost? Certainly if we look at it in a traditional sense, say you have a server and a Host for three years, the hardware costs will probably be cheaper if you go with a co-location solution. However, when you factor in ancillary hardware and software licensing, then chances are dedicated hosting will end up being cheaper than co-located.
Third party server support solutions are available for both dedicated and co-located servers. This then balances out the differences between managed, dedicated, and co-located. In the end, the differences are few. They are cost, time it takes to start hosting, and hardware support. For the average user, Dedicated still reigns supreme.