Global membership associations must find ways to strategically operate their infrastructure and provide services. Often, such strategic operation involves managed hosting. Managed hosting can be understood in contrast to unmanaged hosting. It can also be understood as one of the various services provided through a host’s role as a managed services provider (MSP). By looking at other core services provided by MSPs, we also get a sense of the services that are often included in managed hosting environments.

Managed vs. unmanaged hosting

The key element of managed hosting is, of course, the aspect of management. The hosting itself is the establishment of infrastructure to provide the resources for your site, which typically means a server with an operating system and other basic software to populate your site. Managed and unmanaged hosting can be understood as follows:

  • Managed hosting: A hosting firm will typically offer status monitoring, malware scanning, backup automation, and similar services. Any additional element beyond the raw server setup is a managed service. Managed hosting is the incorporation of core managed services with the server – so some services are tied into hosting of the system.
  • Unmanaged hosting: When there are no additional services beyond the machine itself, that is unmanaged hosting. You could just get a server with an operating system and nothing else – which would mean unmanaged hosting. You would have to install any programs you wanted, even fundamental ones such as LAMP stack programs PHP and Apache HTTP Server.

Managed hosting is what is included with the cost of any cloud software tool – with the price of your subscription to the service, the developer maintains the infrastructure that stores and delivers the applicable data. Managed hosting, in and of itself, is a service that you can use to provide the resources for a website or application in a standardly and expertly managed manner.

Managed hosting – one type of managed service

Managed hosting can be understood in contrast to unmanaged hosting. It can also be understood as one of the solutions offered by a managed service provider. An MSP, noted Gartner, is an entity that provides application, system, and network management via a network to various companies, using on-demand pricing. A straight MSP will offer managed services as its main revenue source. There are also many other MSPs that are providing managed services in addition to their core portfolio; these firms include network service providers (NSPs), web hosts, and application service providers (ASPs), for example.

Elli Bishop noted that an MSP handles challenges that would usually be addressed by in-house IT pros – such as maintaining software and hardware to ensure its upkeep and that the code is current. The managed service provider, i.e. the managed host, monitors your network around the clock and handles everything that arises. Your IT issues are confronted and resolved by the MSP so that you can center yourself on targeting the core needs of your business, optimizing the efficiency with which you are able to operate since you no longer have to problem-solve the backend computer issues.

Typical IT managed services

Examples of managed services that a global membership organization may find valuable and that are often tied to managed hosting plans are the following:

Backup automation – You must ensure that all your files and data are in two locations, which is the essence of regular backup. You are relieved of the responsibility of having to manually backup your data at routine intervals by implementing automated backups. (Keep in mind that it is important to verify automated backup is functioning properly, and occasional manual backups are wise for redundancy.) Be certain that the backup also includes your databases. You also need to know that the backup is not stored on the same server on which your site is stored (since you are trying to diversify your location).

Performance monitoring – This managed service is key because it can keep you abreast of how your site is running and also how many resources (such as memory) you still have available. Getting these notices allows you the option to get in touch with the host so that they can fix the issue – feeding more resources to your site, simple in a highly scalable cloud setting.

Software auto-updating – MySQL, Apache, PHP, and other base website programs should always be used as their most recently released versions, especially for security. A host will often have their systems configured to automatically update your core software so that you do not have to concern yourself with it. Be certain there is a backup of your site prior to these types of updates (although a strong provider will have updates prior to making any changes).

Security & malware removal – Server security is a key issue. It could result in downtime of your system, leading to lost revenue. It could also result in loss of data and credibility, as well as potential regulatory violations and sanctions. A managed security plan from an MSP can allow you to see many different types of threats related to your ecosystem so that you can clear them away as applicable. The extent to which your managed service provider is experienced at information security will help you to determine the extent to which you can trust their defensive posture.

Security: key to strong managed hosting

Consider one key aspect that is often tied to managed hosting: managed security, the last element listed above. When a company has managed security through their host, that would give them access to more comprehensive security protections: a managed firewall, intrusion detection, virtual private network, vulnerability scanning, and antiviral protections. High-availability security operation centers are used for around-the-clock monitoring so that your data and systems are protected at all times.

Managed security is critical in a world of increasingly sophisticated and prevalent threats to valuable user data and to the functionality of your systems. A report from SolarWinds found that 80% of businesses in the United States and United Kingdom said they would change their security approach in 2018. Some of the organizations within that 80% are changing from handling security internally to getting it externally, while others are switching from one third-party provider to another.

When the report was released, SolarWinds security architecture VP Tim Brown noted that security approaches were being considered extensively by organizations since there have been so many high-profile and financially devastating instances of ransomware and other data breaches.

The extent to which organizations are adjusting their security approaches point to its importance. The critical nature of security is also demonstrated by PwC’s Global State of Information Security Survey 2018, which polled 9500 chief executives in 122 nations.

The numbers from the report demonstrate how companies are adjusting as they treat

security as a more central priority. While security was managed internally by 60% of respondents, 82% of companies that do security internally said they were going to move to managed security to cut their costs within the next year. Furthermore, security was being transitioned to an outside provider by 24% of organizations because they wanted better IT security.

Managed hosting for your global association

Do you need managed hosting for your global association, for improved security and other benefits? At Atlantic.Net, our certified engineers monitor your hosting environment around the clock to ensure your business is up and running 100% of the time. See our Managed and HIPAA Hosting Solutions.