Organisations looking for managed hosting find a plethora of options that make finding the correct solution difficult. This article will explain the various benefits and features on offer and help you to make the right decision.The decision to use managed hosting can be reached in plenty of different ways. You may have a complex application that’s delivered over the Web, your existing dedicated server is taking a lot of upkeep, or maybe you just want to outsource your server hosting so you can focus on more strategic business tasks. The result is the same – you’re ready for managed hosting.With a managed server, you won’t be responsible for such things as installing & patching the operating system and other maintenance & management tasks. It’s a nice suggestion though to have a good understanding of the operating system installed, as having a completely hands off approach can be troublesome. Windows & Linux take different approaches to things like file systems and security so understanding the OS you’re using can make your life simpler if things go wrong. Keep in mind that the main reason for buying managed hosting is the level of support you get, so definitely take advantage of it where possible.Good hosting providers will offer you a range of additional services to ensure your server configured for optimum performance. These include such things as managed backup, managed firewalls & load balancers and VPN services. The enterprise class services that a top provider can deliver will give you excellent availability & performance at a fraction of the outlay of doing it yourself.Many organisations that use managed hosting services are moving away from physical servers to VMware hosting. VMware hosting gives the same performance characteristics of a physical machine but with additional enterprise features such as SAN storage and guaranteed availability. You can still take advantage of managed hosting features such as operating system installation and maintenance, but your server will have the additional benefit of enterprise class reliability.The better providers of managed hosting will offer a service level guarantee. This is a contract between you and the hosting provider that stipulates what level of service they will provide and how they will remedy any failures. Look out for a high percentage uptime – ideally 100%, with money back if they fail to meet the standard. For e-commerce sites even a tiny amount of downtime can be a serious issue so look for the strongest service level agreement you can find.In summary then, for many companies managed hosting is an ideal way to exploit resources available from an ISP to deliver multiple benefits for you. Make use of managed backup where possible and make sure to look at your hosting providers’ service level agreement. In an age where outsourcing is often critical to business success, managed hosting can really make a difference.