You can have any sort of process hosted by another company nowadays. Itís truly an amazing world for those who like to outsource parts of their businesses and know how to do that efficiently. And on the other hand, if you provide hosted services, itís a very lucrative market for you, as you likely already know. Of course, anyone can put together a bunch of servers in a garage and call it a day Ė but if you want to offer a truly professional service with everything that your clients will likely expect from you, then you have to always think one step ahead.
Scalability is usually the major problem of companies that offer hosted services, and that usually boils down to lack of planning. If you can't see yourself handling double your current number of clients, then you have no idea where youíre going. And no, simply thinking ďIíll just buy more serversĒ is not the right way to go. Eventually this will not be a feasible option and youíll find yourself with a lot of hardware that you can't realistically maintain.
A much more flexible approach is to have a small number of server machines which are designed to be easily expandable and upgradable. You should have extra slots for all the major components, especially for more memory (of both types, operating and storage). Some companies on the market can offer you some very customizable solutions which arenít going to cost you more than a regular set of computers with the same characteristics, so thatís the direction to look in. Plus, these machines have various extra optimizations in their internal workings in most cases, in order to make them even more appropriate for long-term server use. Increased support for UPS units is always a good thing if you want to make the installation of your servers easier and more straightforward, for example.
Something very important in a good server machine is the ability to hot-swap as many components as possible. Ideally, you should even be able to take out one of the processors during runtime and replace it with another one without compromising the work of the machine. This requires not only specially configured hardware, but software as well, so when youíre discussing your options with whichever company youíve chosen, make sure you ask them about their software support if you want to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Physical durability should also be considered, even though itís not the first thing that comes to most peopleís minds when theyíre on the lookout for a good server machine. You never know what might happen in your office, and even though off-site backups are a must and youíre likely doing them already, itís still good to minimize the damage locally. This can help you get back on your feet much quicker following an incident, which in turn will work wonders to improve the trust your customers have in you, and the reliability which they see in your services. Which, in this line of work, is pretty much your whole reputation.
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