If you’r looking to host a website or app, you’ve probably come across the term “cloud hosting” in your research. Let’s take a look at what differentiates cloud hosting from traditional hosting options—and what some of the practical advantages and disadvantages can be, of using cloud hosting.
Traditional Web Hosting vs. Cloud Hosting
Traditionally, websites would be hosted on a single server in a single datacenter. Whether it was a server that was hosting numerous accounts, or an individual machine dedicated to nothing but hosting your site alone, the overall principle remains the same. Your site would be hosted on physical server, in a single, physical datacenter. Cloud hosting, however, is different. Instead of having all of your website data on a single server, cloud hosting spreads your data across a number of different machines—different servers in different locations that are all interconnected. With cloud hosting, you can manage your data through a “virtual machine” that accesses all the different servers across the “cloud.” Your hosting server only exists in a virtual environment—which is what is generally meant by “cloud” technologies.
Cloud hosting utilizes the computing power of a number of different machines, which means that you have vastly more potential than you would with traditional hosting, but it also have access to the services that those particular machines may offer.
Before we get into all of the potential for cloud hosting, let’s dive into the basics of cloud hosting.
Public Cloud Hosting vs. Private Cloud Hosting
When hosting your site with a single server (traditional hosting), you have the choice of either sharing the machine you use with other accounts (called a shared server), or running an individual server specifically for your site (a dedicated server). As you can imagine, there are different benefits and costs for each set-up.
Similarly, with cloud hosting, you can choose to host your site on a public cloud service, or a private cloud.
With a public cloud—similar to a shared server—a collection of networked machines maintain the data for several sites at once. The hardware used to host a site or app is shared between a number of other accounts—so the cost of the resource is shared as well. Unlike traditional shared hosting, public cloud hosting doesn’t succumb to the bottlenecks that can come from sharing server and hardware capacity.
For some instances, a public cloud is not what you are looking for. In these cases, it’s possible to create a private cloud set-up that does not share any infrastructure with other accounts or sites. This obviously comes at a higher cost—but offers greater security and control. You can control the setup entirely, with the whole virtualized resource behind your own firewall.
The upsides to a private cloud environment are fairly clear to anyone who considers data security to be important, but it does limit your ability to access some cloud services—and can be prohibitively costly.
Cloud Hosting vs. Single Server Hosting
The hosting world is beginning to largely move away from dedicated server hosting, with cloud technology becoming the predominant method for web hosting. It is a more complex, and thus, more expensive environment to create than a traditional hosting setup. But there are benefits to cloud hosting.
1) Reliability (or should we say… DurableHosting)
If your website data only exists on a single server in a datacenter, and that machine goes offline… then your site goes offline. Boom—gone. If your site data is shared among an array of networked machines, all storing the same information, and one goes offline, then your site remains online. The other machines in the network will make sure of that.
By using a network of machines to host your site, you have even more data storage and retrieval resources at your disposal than you necessarily need. These resources can be scaled up easily for long term increases in traffic, and even for short time frames when you are expecting to see more traffic to your site. There’s no physical set-up involved, so you can make these changes almost instantly, and you only have to pay for what you use.
Cloud hosting is also very versatile. Cloud hosting can be individualized to the specific needs of the customer. You don’t have to pick a hosting package from a list of options that may or may not fit your requirements. You can have exactly the, architecture, storage, processing power, and security you need.
Whatever your individual needs they can be accommodated perfectly on the cloud. You can even choose to manage your server directly from your smartphone. Most cloud server hosting accounts can be managed directly from your smartphone or laptop, instead of having to gain access to the actual data center.
Hyperscale Cloud Hosting—The Big Three
The vast majority of cloud computing is provided by “the big three.” Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
Companies of this size can offer infrastructure on such a huge scale that they tend to be referred to as Hyperscale cloud hosting services, rather than just cloud hosting. Hyperscale cloud hosting can offer much more than just secure, scalable, hosting.
These services all offer a vast array of artificial intelligence-based services and machine learning platforms to enhance the service you offer to your customers. These are integrated through a simple API call and integrate perfectly with the rest of your cloud requirements.
All three of the big players are constantly innovating and transforming what is possible with the cloud, and making that available to the customer. These cloud platforms are not about a commodity service, where the hyperscale providers are in a race to the bottom on price. There is a race, but it’s very much one of features and technology. The most innovative services, and the most complete range of features is likely to be the winner in the long run. This is a great environment to be in as a consumer. We only stand to benefit from this type of competition!
Managed Cloud Hosting Services
Possibly the biggest downside to cloud hosting, is the need to transfer from traditional hosting to cloud hosting. The decision can be difficult, and the transition process can be overwhelming. What used to be a discussion between a digital agency and their client about where to host a website or application is often now a company-wide digital transformation project involving many specialist partners.
Hyperscale cloud providers use a series of Managed Service Providers (MSPs)—service-led infrastructure companies who focus entirely on designing and delivering bespoke hosting solutions on hyperscale cloud platforms, that fit the individual needs of their clients.
Organizations often work with MSPs to shepherd them through the process of choosing and designing a cloud architecture for their business, and transitioning their data to the cloud.
Green Cloud Hosting
More and more in the modern world companies are looking to reduce the impact they have on the world around them. All three of the hyperscale cloud providers take sustainability very seriously indeed. Data footprints of large companies using traditional hosting have proven to be significant—from the energy output used to create the hardware, to the geological footprint of the data centers, traditional hosting can have negative impacts on the environment. Moving toward more cloud hosted options worldwide will hopefully reduce the footprint of data storage significantly.