I'm used to asking strictly technical questions, so I hope this "Dear Abby" style is appropriate.

Potentially-Excessive Background

I'm a web designer and developer, good at a lot of things and excellent at very few. I've used various VPS products as development servers, I've tried all kinds of shared hosting, and my high-traffic experience ends with CloudFlare and bumping up resources—no distributed computing, failover setups, load balancing, or big-kid networking. I've set up a mail server and web servers from base distros and know that I'd put everyone at risk offering to do those things for clients. (So I don't.)

Let's say I have a client, a medium-sized company well-established on one of the thriving US coasts, and they run an off-the-shelf PHP/MySQL CMS along with a custom-built PHP/MySQL app. I can keep that software updated, healthy, and neatly deployed—no problem.

Now let's say this client also has an internal IT department that doesn't seem up to the task of maintaining the site and server: inconsistent version control, questionable production "fixes", and with a reluctance to share access, ask for help, or take thoughtful advice.

An otherwise stable VPS has been crippled, and the client knows but isn't sure what to do. I want to help responsibly and not just blame the current situation on iffy internal decisions, but I don't know what to recommend.

The Question

This is a client that benefits from the resources and availability of a good VPS product, with an IT department that may not be well-suited for managing such a server. Does this mean that managed hosting is ultimately an ideal fit?

Management software updates (Plesk, Cpanel, etc.), security patches, and server maintenance should all be handled by somebody other than the client's IT, and ideally there'd be guaranteed, scalable resources with solid uptime and an SLA to match.

I see that Media Temple is offering managed hosting now, but I'm interested in reputable suggestions if this is what I'm looking for in the first place.

closed as off-topic by joeqwerty, MDMarra, Katherine Villyard, DKNUCKLES, TheCleaner Apr 4 '14 at 0:59

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." – joeqwerty, MDMarra, Katherine Villyard, DKNUCKLES, TheCleaner
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    I think you're trying to solve the wrong problem. Fix the broken IT department first. – Michael Hampton Apr 3 '14 at 21:20
  • @MichaelHampton Would that it were only mine to fix. But regardless, you're probably right. Thanks. – Matt Stein Apr 3 '14 at 21:22

If your client is unwilling or unable to do anything about the bad IT department your options seem to be:

1 Manage the hosting for them

Charge them a monthly fee to manage the hosting on a VPS you control. don't give access to the server. Host it on a VPS or a managed hosting solution - whichever you feel confident with. The IT department may be upset about not having access to the server. Its all politics from there. Choosing what provider to use falls squarely into the offtopic product recommendations category, so you will have to do your own research there.

2 Set it up and support it when it breaks

Set it up on whatever system they need and let the incompetent IT department do what they want. Charge them every time you have to clean up after them. Either the IT department gets fixed or you make extra money. Document what broke and why so the client can clearly see what they are getting billed for.

3 Hand them the keys and walk away

If the IT department breaks it...not your fault. No matter how good the managed hosting is they will probably be able to break it either through ignorance or malice. Fix it only if they are willing to pay a large enough bill to make it worth the effort. This is likely to eventually end the relationship with the client. But sometimes firing a client is a good thing. If you arent making enough cleaning up after them to be worth the time spent drop them and take on better clients.

  • Thank you for your answer, Grant, and for enduring my verbose question as well. – Matt Stein Apr 4 '14 at 1:00

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