Your VPS Solution Carefully
Choose Your VPS Solution Carefully
Virtual private servers are springing up everywhere. With all
the loaded terminology and noise in the market, you may find yourself
confused--or worse--feeling like you’re not getting the whole
What is a virtual private server, and what should you expect from
it? Amidst all the VPS options, how can you be sure you are getting
the best solution for your needs?
What is a virtual private server?
Virtualization is a technological term that has come to mean a
lot of things. In the world of Web hosting, virtualization is based
on the concept of partitions on a physical server: a method of partitioning
an operating system into many smaller isolated operating systems,
all running on the same server hardware.
Virtualized servers, such as VMware and Microsoft Virtual Server
2005, require that you install a separate operating system on each
partition of the core hardware, which can result in significant
resource demands on the physical server CPU, disk and memory.
The virtual private server (VPS) refines this
method by virtualizing only the core services of an operating system
so that by design, a VPS should appear and behave like a fully dedicated
server. You can reboot a VPS, install applications on it, create
and save files, change the configuration, set up administrators
and users, and just about anything else you can dream up, all while
sharing the core operating system.
The benefit of this approach is that because you can have multiple
virtual servers running on one physical server, you don’t
need to buy more hardware every time you want another server. Even
more importantly, this approach translates into an excellent solution
for people who need all the power and flexibility of a dedicated
server at a fraction of the price.
Are all Virtual Private Servers created equal?
There are a wide range of VPS options to choose from, but for
the most part, VPS can be generalized into three basic types:
1. VPS Software. Shrink-wrapped software that
you can install on a dedicated server to create your own set of
2.VPS Hosting. A hosting service that provides
a pre-configured VPS residing on hardware in a network hosted by
3. Managed VPS Hosting. A hosting service that
provides a pre-configured VPS fully optimized to your requirements.
This option includes an operating system that has been tuned specifically
for the certified hardware and network configuration on which it
runs, and is maintained, updated, managed and supported by the provider.
A managed hosting VPS provides regular updates
and ongoing security patches for your virtual server; ensures that
your virtual server has allotted access to the CPU, bandwidth and
processes on the hardware; and provides a range of software and
applications certified to run on the managed system, as well as
the option to freely install your own software choices.
What I can do with a VPS?
A VPS offers myriad capabilities. Unlike shared Web hosting which
limits you to traditional Web hosting capabilities, a VPS is a hosted
server that goes beyond Web hosting to provide all the capabilities
of a standard server and operating system. You can install your
own applications, even replace the standard components pre-installed
on your server with components of your own choosing.
For example, if you don’t like the email system installed
on the VPS by your provider, you can replace it with a different
one. As a result, the best way to determine what you can do with
a VPS is to consider what you can do with any dedicated server that
does not require 100 percent full-time access to the CPU.
A VPS can be used to display a Web site or house a complex e-commerce
site. Virtual private servers are used for intranets, web-based
calendaring, file servers, application servers, database servers,
gaming servers, email, development/testing/production platforms
and much more. Additionally, a VPS can be divided into multiple
sub-accounts, making it possible to host multiple Web sites and
Intranets on the same VPS account.
Virtual private servers are a perfect solution for small businesses
that need more powerful and economical servers but may not have
the up-front capital to invest in their own solution, or the internal
resources to manage and maintain a solution in-house.
Many small businesses don’t want to spend their time focusing
on IT; they prefer to focus on their core business while letting
experienced hosting providers manage IT needs for them. Some of
these services—often referred to as Managed Services—are
included in the cost of your VPS, and in some cases, additional
Managed Services can be added for a fee.
A VPS enables multiple businesses to share the expense of hardware
and network connections without sacrificing flexibility, security
or freedom of choice. With VPS, small businesses around the globe
can establish a sophisticated Web presence—previously a reasonable
option only for larger corporations—thereby leveling the playing
field for all businesses.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you expect your hosting needs
to expand significantly, it can be difficult and costly to upgrade
to a dedicated server. Smaller businesses that plan to grow should
seek out a host provider that will help to ease the migration from
a VPS to a larger, managed dedicated hosting solution. Finding a
provider now that will grow with your business will help to alleviate
expansion headaches later on. During growth spurts, you need the
time and the freedom to focus on your business—not the technology.
How can you be sure you get the right VPS for your needs?
There are many pretenders out there who claim they offer VPS technology,
but be warned: not all VPS offerings are equal. So when you’re
researching the best solution for your needs, remember that a hosted
VPS should be evaluated by more than just price, disk space and
bandwidth. A VPS should be judged by the comprehensive set of services
you receive. You’re paying for the network, the hardware and
software, maintenance and managed services, support and a good relationship
with your vendor.
Some criteria to consider:
- How long has the VPS provider been in business? Can you count
on the provider to be there when you need them, several years
down the road?
- Is the VPS you are considering a mature solution (seasoned
OS on proven hardware), or is it a newcomer? When it comes to
reliability and stability, experienced providers are the best
bet because the technology has been proven.
- Does the provider use refurbished desktop hardware that may
not have the most reliable components or drivers?
- Are the operating system and hardware tuned for optimal performance?
- Are hardware/software updates and upgrades included as a part
of the service, or will you be expected to pay for upgrades or
do the upgrades yourself?
- Does the provider offer constant patches and security reviews
to lock down possible vulnerabilities?
- Is the provider using certified hardware and applications for
security, performance and reliability?
- Are applications available to install on your VPS that have
been certified to run on your VPS, so that you aren’t required
to compile and install applications on your own?
- Does the provider ensure that your VPS is allotted a fair share
of server resources, such as CPU, bandwidth, memory?
- What type of network connectivity can you expect with your
provider? Going with the big guys should get you much more reliable
network connections and network peering, which ensures better
and faster access to your server regardless of what functions
it has been set up to serve.
- Is free support included in your VPS hosting plan? For how
long? What type of support is offered—can you ask “how
to” questions? Will they help with you questions about using
your server, even if your questions aren’t about the server
VPS hosting plans are a fantastic solution for
most small business hosting needs, but choosing the right VPS can
be as difficult as choosing the right car. The trick is to keep
it simple by looking at the bigger picture. Ask the basic questions,
and don’t buy if you don’t get a satisfactory answer.
If you don’t assume that a lower price and more disk space
is the better deal, you won’t wind up broken down in the desert
heat, wishing you’d spent a few extra dollars to buy the more
As director of product management for
Verio - http://www.verio.com,
Heather Boyer is responsible for Verio’s portfolio of complex
shared and dedicated hosting services, including Verio's VPS Product