Businesses often struggle to balance the cost of hosting services with their actual requirements. Among the more popular solutions is physical hosting of servers.

Most entities making use of such a service require little more than the basics: compliance, security, ease of access, uptime and support. A trend in business owners to escalate these requirements often escalates the expense of the solutions beyond what is feasible. It therefore takes longer when finalising a decision on what services to use. This ultimately delays commencement and puts a business at elevated risk with regards to the data or services requiring hosting. Physical hosting thus needs both knowledge and planning.

We briefly explain the various physical hosting options below to guide ICT decision makers and business in general.

Shared Physical Hosting

In a shared hosting environment, your and other server owners shared one or more cabinets. This includes sharing the physical power and network infrastructure within the cabinet.

Shared hosting services are affordable because you share the implementation cost of all the components within a cabinet with the other owners. There are, however, a number of downsides, such as physical security concerns and different cabinets locations for additional servers. Power spikes caused by other servers might trip the power breakers for the cabinet, although measures are usually in place to prevent this.

Cabinet Physical Hosting

In a dedicated cabinet hosting environment, you have the entire cabinet to yourself. This allows one to expand services within the cabinet, run network cables as required and have dedicated power circuits, as yours is the only equipment within the cabinet.

Dedicated cabinet hosting services remain affordable because you share the implementation cost of all components with the other owners within the data centre. However, this also means that you are responsible for the total cost of the cabinet, its power and network connectivity. This is a good choice for business owners that require  all their servers within the same cabinet, or need a higher level of security and access that is limited to the provider and the customer.

Cage Physical Hosting

In a dedicated cage hosting scenario, you have the entire hosting cage to yourself. This allows you to expand services within one or multiple cabinets, run network cables as required and have dedicated power circuits limited to your own use, as your equipment is exclusive within the cabinet. If you require multiple cabinets, they are all built next to each other but caged off to prevent any non-authorised access.

The client this remains responsible for the cost of the complete cage floor space. This usually offers multiple cabinet spacing, allowing for growth. Dedicated Cage hosting services are feasible for businesses that need all their servers within the same cage. They are also useful if cabinets require added security due to compliance reasons. They also offer a much higher level of access control, with more layers of physical security, and access that limited to the provider and the customer.

Dedicated Data Centre

In a dedicated Data Centre, you have the entire data centre to yourself. This allows for the provision of services exclusively to you, within any cabinet within the data centre. It permits the running of network cables and dedicated power grids as required. It also allows for additional infrastructure such as backup power, cooling and generators.  However, this also means that you are responsible for the cost and management of the complete data centre.

While typically prohibitively expensive, this is an ideal model for larger businesses that require servers within a private centre. They usually also need the highest level of security with multiple physical access layers and access control. Due to the cost of implementation, colocated data centres usually provide better tiered infrastructure for limited budgets.

The author interviewed Willem van Zyl, Senior Solutions Architect for Adept, in preparation for this article