A server is a foundation for any initiative on the web. However, the maintenance of a server requires special conditions which are rarely possible to achieve in an ordinary office. Therefore, servers are usually stored in specialized facilities known as data centers that provide all the necessary conditions, that include an uninterrupted power supply, temperature control, cooling, protection against unauthorized access, etc.
Servers in data centers are very often rented out by companies specializing in web hosting, which allows businesses to use servers without the need to purchase and maintain their own hardware. However, there is another option, namely the server colocation service where a customer is provided space at a data center where they can locate their own hardware.
Both approaches have their benefits and are good for specific projects, so let’s have a look.
Renting a server: how it works, benefits and drawbacks
One way to host a website for your business is to rent a server. This solution is a bit easier, as it supposes less responsibility from the side of the customer, so it’s more often chosen and offered. By renting a server you get a fully configured and managed server, along with the necessary infrastructure and support to keep it running. This can be a good option for businesses that don’t have the technical expertise or resources to maintain and support their own server hardware, or that don’t want to make a significant upfront investment in server hardware.
Renting a server means that the quality of your hardware will depend on the hosting provider, which is good if the hosting provider is reliable, and not good if they are not.
Also, by renting a server you get a higher level of flexibility in the sense that you aren’t bounded to the specific hardware you own. Neither you need to buy more hardware if your requirements have grown or to dispose of the old hardware if you want to update it or just don’t require it anymore. By renting a server, you, by default, obtain the possibility to rescale rather easily.
Another benefit of renting a server is the variety of hosting solutions: besides the traditional dedicated server, you also can choose between a bunch of different hosting solutions that are made possible by virtualization technology: vps server hosting, cloud hosting, bare metal servers…
All these solutions offer different advantages with an eye on the particularity of each individual project.
For instance, you can opt for virtual private servers in case you need excellent operation combined with financial affordability for smaller projects.
In the case of server colocation, there isn’t such a variety of services. Instead, you’re always dealing with a dedicated server, which is an entire physical machine.
The colocated server is a different approach to the organization of your website’s hosting. Here you are directly responsible for purchasing your hardware. This means you have to invest more from your side, but at the same time, you get more control and customization possibilities.
Colocation is a good choice in case you are interested in solving the technical tasks required by your project and want to have everything under control.
You only pay for the racks in the data center and the necessary maintenance that comes with them, so there isn’t such a variety of plans with different configurations if we talk about colocation. However, the pricing is rather flexible, since you can opt for different rack configurations depending on the requirements of hardware you provide and the preferences of your projects.
Also, you will have to have an employee that goes directly to the data center and performs the necessary configuration. Otherwise, you can check whether your colocation provider can also provide the services of their team to perform this task.
Although you have to invest more at the beginning, If you are planning a long-term project, colocation can end up being a more beneficial option, since the fees include only the server rack(s).
Now, let’s summarize the pros and cons of each approach to make the choice between them easier for you.
- Allows for full control and customization of the server hardware and software
- Can be more cost-effective in the long term
- Can be a good choice for businesses with specific requirements or custom configurations
- Requires a significant upfront investment in server hardware
- It can be more complex and time-consuming to manage than rented servers
- Requires in-house technical expertise and resources to maintain and support the server
- No upfront investment in server hardware
- Includes different kinds of services to better suit the needs of smaller and short-term projects
- Quick provisioning and scalability
- Provides fully configured and managed server, along with necessary infrastructure and support
- Limited customization and control over the hardware compared to colocation
- The quality of hardware depends on the hosting provider
- May be more expensive in the long term than colocation
Summing up, colocation is more specific in terms of usage cases, while server rental suits well to more various types of projects. Nevertheless, if your project requires an entire physical server, and you are interested in getting the maximum control over it, then colocation is a great choice.