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Hosting provider recommendations: MS, SQL, Dedicated

Mark2

Top Member
One of my clients has been with one particular hosting company for some time, which I recommended and continue to recommend. However they are expensive and the client is tentatively looking at cutting some costs.

Need firewall, 1 x Web Server, 1 x MS SQL Server, both at least RAID1, and onsite and offsite backups.

Doesn't sound like much of a challenge. You can get this for a couple of hundred a month. That is far less than the client currently pays. However the cheaper providers tend not to supply hardware firewalls and leave you to rely on the Windows one which I'm not prepared to sanction, nor the use of cheap "whitebox" machines.

The client's app is business critical though not enough to go for a High Availability solution (as in: redundant servers and kit on standby - at least, not at these prices)

Network uptime has been 100% for years, customer service is very good. Crucially, as a "Managed Provider" you're able to get some help if you need it - I rarely do, since I work for the client and am a fairly experienced server admin, but the provider has been able to help out with a few OS things in the past and we'd want that support, not "it's your server, we just rent it to you, so do it yourself". That is the approach I take for two cheap dev servers I run where nothing is critical.

Although I'm a developer with server admin capabilities I do not offer hosting to my clients, they take that themselves with the data centre and pay the bills. Hosting is too much of a pain in the backside overhead to deal with at my level relative to the profit it returns and the 24/7 nature of it so I'm a bit out of the loop.

Added to that, all the providers I'm coming across do not quote "menu pricing", which I find irritating. I have no idea of what they charge unless I ring them all up.

Where should I be looking for business critical managed hosting with a provider who is not a reseller?
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Hmm I thought that most dedicated servers came with a firewall these days, even if it's not always stated on the product page. I guess it depends though on whether you want some control over that firewall as that's a different ball game.

Unfortunately it sounds like you want a Microsoft server and I've always been more of a Linux/Apache man myself. But have a look at some of these as they normally come quite well rated (not sure about Memset though.. they use to be good but I've not kept up-to-date with them).

http://www.ukfast.co.uk/
http://www.vi.net/
http://www.memset.com/
http://www.stratogen.net
 

Mark2

Top Member
Thanks Mark - working my way through those. UKFast were very helpful indeed.

Have also contacted Zen (no experience of their hosting, but good reputation) and a couple of others now so I have some comparable quotes. One provider recommended their cloud platform which is potentially affordable because the site and database only actually occupy about 10GB of disk space.

I can see in this market that while the bottom may have dropped out of the prices for the "fifty quid a month budget box", actually, if anything, the cost of more intensive hosting seems to increase year on year.
 

timeless

ULTIMATE Member
Staff member
Volunteer Mod
what sort of price range are you looking at? as my friend hosts two servers under £150 granted we dont have cpanel etc however the host is definitely pretty good and we have some pretty good hardware as well.
 

Mark2

Top Member
I have a couple of cheap Windows boxes at Poundhost which I use for development and testing (one web, one Sql) - I signed up when an offer was on, and the pair only cost me about £90/mo.

However that's without a firewall (they don't do them), so reliant on Windows Firewall only, it is not "managed", uptime has been fine (I have a monitor on it) and they're both slow with just a few GB of memory in each and no RAID (again this is only dev kit, so for instance if I have to mount a client site and database I'll strip out all real customer data before it gets on to the dev kit). Nothing has gone wrong with them, but then if it did, it's no great disaster. Nobody would really notice.

By contrast the current client kit - managed, managed backups, Cisco firewall with zones for both servers, one web one SQL (with 24GB memory and RAID5), SLA, 100% uptime for last few years all but for one blue screen of death that was never explainable rebooted within 5 minutes as soon as the Alert picked it up - that's all included too - and so on is very much more expensive with one of the top providers. The app is business critical so while we can't guarantee 100% uptime we need to be as close to it as possible.

The budget is perhaps £750 - £1000/mo. One of the providers I contacted proposed a cloud based solution which would add resilience and has come in at the bottom end of that range.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Must admit that I've never really investigated "cloud hosting", I'm not quite sure how it works as to me the principle always sounded like a managed VPS?
 

Mark2

Top Member
I concur. I'm looking at it in more detail for the first time - I know when I have looked in the past - a small site serving out static pages is affordable for cloud hosting, but intensive database apps requiring fair amounts of storage, processor power and memory rapidly become very expensive - in the past, so expensive, that I've never bothered pursuing it. Yet, those sort of intensive, high availability apps is what cloud hosting is ideal for.

I need to investigate this further today as on the face of it, it is a good high availability option which would benefit the client.

As an analogy my view of cloud hosting is that the design of the solution is what we'll all have in our homes in the end. You'll have a processor box (or several) in the cupboard under the stairs tucked away which provides the computing power for all your devices, you'll have one or more solid state storage boxes again providing storage for all devices, in effect the key components of all the items of your kit will be abstracted into separate upgradeable boxes. Or maybe that's a flight of fancy and just my imagination.
 

Gr_Larry

Member
Must admit that I've never really investigated "cloud hosting", I'm not quite sure how it works as to me the principle always sounded like a managed VPS?
This type of hosting may help you ensure powerful performance of your online projects - they always will get all necessary resources.
 

NickC4555

Regular Member
I moved all of my customers to Vidahost about a year ago. I can't comment on their dedicated server hosting, mine are all on their Cloud infrastructure, but they are easily the best hosting company I have ever used. World class support, 100% uptime, great performance.

Server packages: https://www.vidahost.com/servers/overview
 

EntityOnline

Top Member
The best host I ever used was Surpass Hosting. I never had any downtime and support was top notch. They were considerably cheaper than anyone else for what I wanted.

Can't say they'd do what you want as it's been a few years since I paid for hosting of any kind.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Except for being based in the USA when UK firms are generally preferable due to different rules.
 

Rob88

Member
You can take a look hostforlife.eu hosting plan. We have so 4-5 clients use their cloud dedicated server. They offer cheap and great cloud dedicated server solution.
 

peter_cas

Member
Did you manage to find what you're looking for? I need a similar solution though in US and found plenty of hosts out there, still don't know what to choose. A friend of mine suggested http://www.jodohost.com as he is using their related services. Any reviews on them here from actual users?
 

DTMark

ULTIMATE Member
Sorry I haven't reverted on this before now... that particular client (business) changed hands, and so priorities were re-ordered.

I did indeed get a number of different quotes, and I suspect that the client shall revert in the next few weeks.

The main determinant in the pricing of everything that I have looked at, is the nature of the service (e.g. customer service, extent of support) as opposed to the physical kit itself, the data transfer or anything related to the server provision itself.
 
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