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We currently have our website hosted by a small company that is actually a reseller for Rackspace.

They act as our server administrators. They configured the servers, handle the backups, if there is a problem, we call them and they fix it.

We are growing and want to move away from our shared server to either a cloud or dedicated server. I am thinking cloud myself but I am open to either.

The current company doesn't seem to want to offer us anything more than a shared hosting plan.

I looked into cloud solutions at vps.net, with them I would have to be the server administrator myself.

I am the website programmer but administering the server is outside my comfort zone.

vps.net does have a $99/month plan for Pro-Active Managed Support but I am not sure if this is the equivalent on a server admin that is there when you need them.

We could hire someone in house, but I think that would be overkill for our needs.

I am not exactly sure what we need, I do know we need as close to 100% uptime as we possible can. and we need the ability to add/remove/change the server configuration/software/etc. when needed (though changes shouldn't be very often once everything is setup right).

Can someone point me in the right direction? What do other companies do?

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I'm voting to close this. While it's an interesting question that most small companies need to consider this is really a business decision, not system administration. On the other hand, if you do decide to take the hosting on yourself and have questions then by all means post them. –  John Gardeniers Feb 25 '11 at 22:53
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@john I am not asking for a business answer, I want to know what my options are, maybe there is an option I am unaware of. I am not even considering hosting it in house, just having an in house administrator for something like vps.net. –  JD Isaacks Feb 25 '11 at 23:21
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4 Answers

This is exactly what I do for a living :)

It’s likely the company you have just have a reseller account and don’t want the hassle of actually admin'ing a server.

For this question if you are beyond shared hosting the next step is a VPS of some sort. Whether managed or unmanaged this is often a question of budget and skills, if your not comfortable with server admin get someone else to do it for you, even if that means either using the managed option or a third party - you could hire someone for a fixed retainer fee a month and they monitor and manage your server for you and perform some admin tasks that you need done, often the pricing is good for these for most tasks and it works both ways, some months you may need very little support from your admin so you lose out in a sense but some months you may need much more support and then the admin loses out a little in some senses so it balances out.

Close to 100% uptime is a different question and requires further discussion of the options from failover to load balancing but that very much depends on your budget and really how much downtime you could live with (e.g. few mins to few seconds) this will very much dictate what provider can give such a service - vps.net can only support DNS failover or a single load balancer (which still leaves a single point of failure) where as providers like Rackspace or Linode can support IP failover in a proper sense.

I don’t know what the etiquette is on advertising personal services, but I offer such a service at a similar price, you could probably search around for many similar services, the vps.net option specifically I have had experience of using and from my experience its not very pro-active but they will do things if you ask them to, but the onus is partially on you to do some admin which I think is the wrong way round. I can’t really recommend vps.net's managed service.

If it’s ok for me to say so, feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this further outside of the scope of this question

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How's that shift key working out for you? –  EEAA Feb 25 '11 at 22:31
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You might also like to take a lesson or two in punctuation. Extremely unprofessional to say the least. –  John Gardeniers Feb 25 '11 at 22:50
    
My apologies to the grammar nazi's for my mistakes, I have corrected these for you now. I didnt realise people were looking at the grammar more than the content but anyway... –  anthonysomerset Feb 28 '11 at 7:54
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Thanks for being honest about your comfort level regarding system administration. That is rather uncommon among us developers :)

I work for a small company too. I'm the only technical person on staff currently (besides our Windows IT dude). I happen to be comfortable managing servers, and have a passion for learning everything I can about just about every computing area known to man. You could go this route, but if you're not comfortable then I suggest you do that on your own time, and not your company's.

I have no experience with VPS.net and cannot say anything regarding their service. I think you'd get the best answer regarding what their service covers straight from the horse's mouth.

I would recommend looking into Rackspace Cloud Servers as well. It's definitely more expensive than $99, but well worth it imo. Their servers start at ~ $11 per month (billed by hourly usage). Their "Managed Service Level" is $100 per month base, plus ~ $87 per month per server (billed by hourly usage).

I confirmed with a Rackspace sales associate that they will fully manage your server proactively including: updates, patches, monitoring, and addressing alerts. They'll manage the full LAMP stack or Windows boxes. You can call them and they do everything short of debug your application it seems.

The sales associate, Chris A., asked that I give this referral link to "my friend" who I was asking on behalf of: Rackspace Cloud Signup.

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+1 Thanks for the info! I would like to learn too, but not on something mission critical. :) –  JD Isaacks Feb 25 '11 at 23:27
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There is tons of Companies that will host the sites, but in the design of it you need to know what you need to support your site, sql, php, asp, etc. Then go into the cloud, and multiply your hosted sites to more points of presence around the globe, and using a DNS round robin and load balenancing you can optimize the sites performance vs presence. 1._ hosting is the way to go 2._ performance is key, bandwith is king, 3._ data and more data, monitoring, breadth and deapth how is your provider going to provide any of these key indicators, and manage and monitor the traffic. I am sure any provider like rackspace, could do it, even any telco. i'm just saying, it could make or break your company.

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I'm not sure this is a great fit for the community, service recommendations are hard.

You could go with something that uses bitiami stacks. We used to use a platform provider who used them, 5 minutes you can deploy a web server, very slick control panel minimal configuration at the OS level. But you of course need a part time web admin. Perferable to dedicated hosting in that you don't have to worry about the networking/hardware failures. Or OS patching (iirc).

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