Coming from Shared to a Server
TL;DR : Pay the extra money and get a control panel if you can like Plesk or cPanel.
So you found yourself in needing a server, after years of building up in a WebHosting platform. Maybe you reached the end of the “unlimited” plan, or your business of reselling has grown too fast and you want/need to offer them a control panel, or maybe you’re just tried of sharing resources with other unknown people. Whatever the case may be, you made it here, and I welcome you.
I typically spend about 10-15 minutes with a customer on the phone who has one of these fundamental reasons for obtaining a Server contract and it always has to start with me finding out what their experience is. 9/10, the customer has relied on the service provider like 1&1, Godaddy, etc to manage the environment. Things like Linux, Apache, etc are high above them and they just know what their website is…”Wordpress”. Whatever the case may be, it’s these 9/10 people that I inform them to get a Linux server for their PHP sites or Windows for their ASP.Net, and they must get a control panel like Plesk (Windows+Linux) or cPanel (Linux/CentOS).
The reason for this is simple: control panels like these come prepackaged with everything they need. Since they spent their years in a providers control panel, telling them right now to get their hands dirty isn’t exactly the answer.
If they’re the 10% that know their way around a server, then I typically just ask how confident are they at managing everything and if they want to do without the CP. The reason for this is just as simple for them: Pre-packaging everything brings a lot of “fluff” and excess weight that’s not needed. Take Windows for example, all you want is ASP.Net, MSSQL, and a few custom applications, you may not have any need for having PHP binaries, MySQL, SmarterMail, etc taking up space and having the services use resources, but then it’s all on you.
So now you have yourself a server, and something goes wrong…
Well fortunately for those that got a CP, server providers will typically have a support contract with the CP’s vendor so that they can atleast rule out if there’s an issue with the CP itself or any of the services it provides (Apache, MySQL, etc). If in the end the issue is in your code, then you should already know how to fix it. If it was with a service that the vendor was able to resolve, you can request exactly what the issue was, how they found it, and how they fixed it. Knowledge is power.
If instead you have an issue that the vendor can’t fix, because of something outside of their scope as it doesn’t relate to anything being broken, but instead your configuration is set lower than your requirements, then it’s a good idea to seek guidance and if needed, help.
Take to google, and type in exactly what the issue is, include things like OS, service, etc. “CentOS increase logical volume”.
Ask experts/support agents
Sometimes while the vendors or maybe even your Service Provider’s tech support can’t support your request due to their policies, there’s good chance they’ve seen the issue and could advise how to go about it. Don’t get frustrated that they can’t do it, and advise them that you’re not asking them to do it, just have them point you in the right direction.
Personal note: I hate when a customer berates me for not doing a service that I can’t provide. I agree that I may know how to do it, or feel confident in doing it, but rules can’t be bent. So instead I try to provide as detailed of guidance as I can.
Hire an Admin
I can’t tell you where to find an admin, or whom to trust. Honestly hiring a full time admin that’s atleast on call for you, would be the best bet. Find someone who can get the server setup from the get-go, will support you during the lifespan of the project, and have the peace of mind of getting it done.
Personal note: While even I have done freelance Admin support for a number of returning customers, I can’t help but cringe at the idea that people would pay someone that they don’t know, to work on a server/project that they didn’t setup, and would just flip flop around until they find the price point they want. It’s your business at stake here.