After much soul searching and consultation, you have decided it is time to move up to a Dedicated Server for your WordPress website.
Well, do good decision ever came through on its own, and now you need to decide if you want to strong for a Managed Server or not.
Before we dig any deeper into that questions, let’s take a few moments to understand the difference between them. After that we will be prepared to consider which is the best solution for your website.
Managed vs Unmanaged
There are two ways to hire a crane (stick with me here, I’m not going as off-topic as you might think). They’re called Dry Hire and Wet Hire.
When you Wet Hire a crane it comes complete with an operator. The operator has been trained to use the crane, to ensure it is maintained, and to make sure it is always operated safely. When you Dry Hire a crane, you get a crane. That’s it. The rest is up to you.
Managed and Unmanaged Servers work the same way. A Managed Dedicated Server gives you access to IT experts who will ensure the server is always operational, will oversee patching, will monitor the performance of the device, and will even install apps when required.
When you go for the Unmanaged option, you get a box.
So when deciding which option to go for, there are four main factors to consider, in no particular order.
Do you, or does someone in your company, have the expertise required to managed a dedicated server in-house. Is your IT department staffed by experienced men and women who can all maintain a server in their sleep? Or is the IT department your 16 year old nephew who drops around occasionally to play World of Warcraft?
A dedicated server requires expertise and if you don’t have that, or don’t have the capacity to recruit it, a Managed Server might be your best option.
Due to the additional services provided under the Managed option, it is more expensive to access than an Unmanaged Server. Be conscious of the cost profile, as this will play a part in the decision. If you have the expertise, and a tight budget, at this point you would be leaning towards an Unmanaged Server.
Time is a resource that does not renew, and operating a dedicated server requires time and effort. If you are trying to get your startup venture off the ground, you will not want to be stepping out of the office every 30 minutes to check on the condition of the Server.
Does your hosting provider offer WordPress support? This is a question you should ask them from the beginning. Assisting with WordPress from a systems administration perspective includes things like optimising MySQL, tweaking you webserver configuration depending on traffic patterns, and assisting with basic level plugin installation. All things that a fully managed provider should be able to offer.
The Balanced Scorecard
That’s a little misleading of course, because the four factors of Expertise, Money, WordPress Support and Time are rarely balanced. As the business owner you will need to make a decision about what metrics to apply to each of these factors in decided which solution is best for you.
But knowledge is power, and hopefully you will now be able to make an informed choice.