Managed Hosting: Myths vs reality

The Trapeze Team | December 17, 2015

We are currently at a junction within a wide technological revolution. And Local Authorities and bus operators alike are also at a crossroads, looking at strategic IT decisions that will best suit their organisation and working practices, as the industry adapts to the possibilities and opportunities presented by both Cloud and Managed Hosting.

Both models enable organisations to shift IT resource from physical, underlying networks and servers, to those hosted elsewhere. However, there’s a simple and important difference between the two: Managed hosting utilises dedicated servers and IT equipment at a single facility, while Cloud uses a vast network of multi-tenanted servers, often pulled from different data centres in different locations.

In a previous article, we outlined how Cloud is susceptible to the perils of myth, which can cloud (pun intended) strategic decision making. Yet the same is also true of Managed Hosting services.

Clearly, it’s critical that both hosting models are well-understood, and any myths thoroughly busted. So, when it comes to Managed Hosting, just what are the myths, and  what’s the reality? Let’s see…

Managed hosting is costly and unaffordable

First and foremost – and as we’ve already mentioned – Managed Hosting allows organisations to save time and money by dedicating fewer internal resources to IT infrastructure management. In addition, maintenance fees and technology investment is minimised, as organisations are also given access to the latest technologies without upfront capital investment and without needing to worry about replacing obsolete hardware or compromising on efficiency by using outdated technology. Furthermore, potential reduces in office space offer real opportunity to make cost savings – vital in this age of austerity.

Of course, when compared to Cloud Hosting, the picture blurs a little – and this is because in certain instances, the Cloud model can deliver greater savings. But the key word here is ‘certain instances’. Organisations may realise greater cost savings through the Cloud if they are only using it irregularly or semi-regularly – for instance, updating their schedules on a weekly basis for a few hours at a time. However, if the services will need to be in use 24/7, then a Managed Hosting solution will deliver the greatest cost savings.

Cost-savings are the end-all and be-all

Of course, with budgets increasingly tight and the focus ever more on ‘doing more with less’, it’s understandable that the allure of cost savings can play a huge role in IT strategy. However, it appears as though money is sometimes less of a pull or push factor than other elements when organisations consider the solutions that work best for them, and are most suited to their business needs.

As this article in the Harvard Business Review points out, strategic IT decisions should be made based on business needs first and foremost – rather than based on finances and budgets, with other factors a secondary consideration. Indeed, identifying other elements - – such as increased agility and flexibility, or greater data recovery or transparency – may warrant greater consideration than purely financial aspects.

Managed hosting isn’t for mission critical use

As is so often the case when new technology becomes available, take-up is often gradual – adopted on a step-by-step basis and in specific cases by organisations throughout the public transport industry.

However, this needn’t deter organisations from using Managed Hosting for mission-critical workloads, systems and services.

Of course, this is partly because modern, 21st century transport software increasingly works best when integrated with other systems. A bus operator’s timetable management software may, for example, need to interact with driver management, fleet management, human resources, accounting, the real-time system and passenger information. Moving certain systems and services onto a Managed Hosting platform, while retaining other systems in-house, may not therefore offer the same benefits as shifting all systems onto a Managed Hosting supplier’s data centre.

It’s not quite up to scratch

When lots of the buzz around new hosting models focuses on the flexibility and agility of Cloud, it is perhaps not surprising that some accusations against Managed Hosting is that it doesn’t quite measure up.

In terms of deployment and flexibility, there is some truth to it that Managed Hosting takes longer to deploy and offers less flexibility than Cloud. However, there are other crucial areas where Managed Hosting is as good as – or even has the upper hand on - Cloud.

For instance, it offers  the same high reliability and availability as Cloud, as well as – crucially where organisations hold sensitive or confidential information and data – higher data security and protection; with 28-day data backups available, compared to just a handful of days with Cloud.

Using state-of-the-art hosting technology, it is possible to provide secure Managed Hosting services that suit various needs of different public transport organisations.

There are too many risks involved

As with any IT system or service, Managed Hosting comes with certain associated risks, which it is important to remain aware of. For example, failover risks, which can be triggered by human error or external factors, such as natural disasters.

However, there are also many risks that Managed Hosting actually counter and protect against. For example, not only are data backups less restrictive in a Managed Hosting environment, it is also easier to revert back to a traditional thick client model – if necessary – than with Cloud, which can see bytes of data left here and there around different server and data centre locations used in the multi-tenanted Cloud scenario.

By using a single, fixed point environment as with the Managed Hosting model, everything is also far more transparent than with Cloud. Not only is it easier to build SLAs around a single hosting centre, but it is also much clearer as to where your data is stored – and how it is being stored.

Via our partners, CenturyLink, Trapeze has access to specific data centres in the UK, with large production environments with secure access requirements – keeping data safe and secure.

But everyone is moving to the Cloud, shouldn’t we?

There has been a great deal of publicity about the Cloud – and there has also been well-documented attention paid to some of its own risks. And while much of the talk is on Cloud, rather than Managed Hosting, moving to the Cloud for Cloud’s sake alone fails to take the nuanced approach necessary when choosing whether to run with a Cloud or Managed Hosting solution. In fact, such an approach can neglect to take into account some of the real benefits of Managed Hosting.

Indeed, it is critical to make such a decision on a case-by-case basis. There are a multitude of examples of where a Managed Hosting model will be more suitable for your organisation – and vice versa.

This is something that we at Trapeze understand clearly. Because of this, we offer solutions for both Cloud and Managed services; so that we can ensure you choose the model that works for you and suits your organisation.

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About The Trapeze Team

The Trapeze Team are here to bring you news and information from Trapeze Group (UK) and the public transportation industry.