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NTT Europe Online: Managed hosting in Europe

September 2009 by NTT Europe Online

The term “managed hosting” describes the provision of a ready to use IT stack including hardware and infrastructure software for the deployment of applications. Providers house the infrastructure in central data centres accessed by customers over the internet. In the past this has usually been on the basis of hardware servers dedicated to individual customers, however the increasing use of virtualisation has allowed managed hosting providers to reduce costs by sharing infrastructure between customers, creating the earliest versions of what the industry now refers to as compute clouds. Computing platforms provisioned and managed by specialists provide higher service levels, greater ease of secure access and more manageable costs than many organisations are able to achieve internally.

The managed hosting market in Europe is thriving despite the current economic conditions. This report looks at the reasons why, what buyers should look for and who the main providers are.

Executive summary

• Managed hosting is attractive to organisations of all sizes as it allows them to acquire IT infrastructure at a controlled cost, whilst reducing risk and adding value to their broader business community Even during economic hard times, managed hosting providers are seeing growth as businesses can deploy new applications on infrastructure paid for out of operational expenditure. The service levels offered are often better than those provided by internal IT departments and applications are easily shared with customers, partners and suppliers.

• Quocirca recognises four types of managed hosting provider (MHP) First there are the pure plays for whom managed hosting is their primary business, second are the major system integrators that offer managed hosting as part of a broader service delivery, third are ISPs and network service providers that provide managed hosting as a value add to their networking services and finally there are the cloud platform providers that have emerged out of the software as a service market.

• MHPs vary in how they target markets and how they sell their services Some MHPs focus mainly on the enterprise, others more on small and medium sized business, whilst a few specialise in working with independent software vendors. Their market focus will control how they take their service to market and this report helps identify the right provider to approach for a given size or type of end user organisation.

• Charging models vary but are always based around a subscription Historically for one?to?one infrastructure provision, charging has been based on a fixed cost per allocated resource, but with the increasing use of shared infrastructure there is a direct link between the customer and physical resource and has lead to more flexible charging models such as per transaction, per volume of data or per user/month.

• Most managed hosting providers adhere to the best practice standards for data security and IT management

ISO27001 and related standards outline best practice for data security and is widely adopted by managed hosting providers, as is ITIL® for good practice in IT infrastructure management. Suppliers can also help their customers with specific needs: for example meeting the requirements of the payment card industry for handling credit card data.

• The hardware used by MHPs is largely irrelevant to end user organisations and the software infrastructure provided is driven by customer demand, which is mainly for Microsoft Windows and Linux

About 60% of demand is for Windows and 30% for Linux. The increasing use of virtualisation allows the separation of hardware and infrastructure software and the sharing of resource, dramatically reducing costs. VMware is the most widely use virtualisation platform, even by providers that focus on Microsoft.

All businesses have a core focus and for managed hosting providers that is the provision and management of top quality IT infrastructure services. Businesses that recognise the benefits of a highly available and secure computing platform should consider turning to experts for the provision of this, freeing their organisation to focus on its own core activities.




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