Choosing between a server management company or a freelance sysadmin is never a decision to make lightly. What is good for you or your organization – a server management company or a freelancer? Differences between two can be significant, however the right answer depends on your needs. We suggest answering the questions below to define your requirements. Based on your answers it would be easier for you to make the right decision.
Do you need help on more than 1-2 areas?
A freelancer can only manage to be good in one or two areas. He/she can be good at Linux but know nothing about Windows server processes. A server management company will be able to provide different services due to the diversity of their team. For example, along with general Linux and Windows system administrators and technical support staff we also have engineers dedicated to each area, like DevOps, cloud computing, CI/CD, etc. Different parts of your project may be assigned to company members that specialize in their respective fields.
Is immediate reaction and fast problem resolution time important for you?
A freelance can only focus on one thing at a time and would need to also manage you and your expectations, having multiple tasks at a time, which could take considerably longer time depending on your project and number of tasks you may have. Be sure to ask a freelancer about his/her workload. If a freelancer gets overwhelmed with other projects, it may be challenging to be responsive. A company could commit multiple people to work on your servers at the same time, their response time is usually very quick and clearly declared.
Is your server critical and needs 24/7 monitoring and support?
While customers in your immediate vicinity may not mind visiting your office or shop during your normal business hours, users on the Internet expect service and support all the time. And what if a freelancer gets sick, has vacation or simply stops responding to your messages? What happens if your web server goes offline and it’s a night time at your freelancer’s time zone? Even if a freelancer has the best workflow in the world, it’s obvious that one person will not be able to take care of your server 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year.
Do you need flexible service with responsibility?
As a rule, companies have established and clear processes, well-documented responsibilities and workflows, communication policies. They can quickly replace employees if needed for any reason. Companies also often have software and access to technologies that freelancers simply can’t afford. In terms of larger projects, typically companies are better equipped to deal with different client needs.
Do you have enough time to remember everything and skills to control the whole process by yourself?
Some customers think that direct work with a freelance sysadmin is better than having to work with the staff of a server support company: a sales manager, Level 1 staff, with a project manager, and finally with sysadmins. It seems simpler and cheaper to communicate with one person all the time. However, please pay attention that communicating with one person will not reduce the time you’ll spend on controlling the whole process, on deciding which tasks to give to your service provider, on remembering about regular server maintenance, understanding technical terms, etc. As a rule, working with a freelance sysadmin requires your deeper involvement into the process and deep understanding of technical aspects of your project or server.
Will you need further support after project completion or will you need continuous support for your server?
Support after completing project is very important for most of the customers. As you interview companies and freelancers, consider your currents needs for the server, as well as your needs long-term. Be sure to ask a server management company or a freelance sysadmin the following questions: Can you support my server long-term? Do you support other servers? Do you have the appropriate tools for monitoring servers and services 24/7? How many projects are you working on currently, and are you able to devote the required time exactly to my server? When are you usually available? In which time zone do you operate?
Would you like to stay on budget?
There’s often an assumption that hiring a freelance sysadmin occasionally is much cheaper than using a service of a company or, for example, having a monthly server management subscription. However, practice shows that going with occasional freelance sysadmin’s help can end up costing much more. Just try to imagine the situation when your server becomes unavailable or suffers from hackers’ attack when you have vacation and your clients cannot access your on-line store. You should quickly find a sysadmin, or contact your existing one, to find the solution. And what if he/she is not available at that moment? Sounds terrible, isn’t it? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going with a freelancer if you have a small project or when your server is not so critical, but when it comes to more important projects, going with a server management company is always the better decision.
We can’t say that the company is always better than a freelance sysadmin. It depends. Each project is a unique set of tasks and requirements. Each person has different budget, expectations from the service level and requirements to availability of technical staff. Answer these questions for yourself and you will come up with the right decision.
Whichever option you decide to choose, be sure you’ve done your research of every available option. Never afraid to ask questions. Do what’s right for your business goals. We hope this article helps you!