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Cloud Hosting

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…is simply a service that “hosts” your website or Internet-accessible application in a cloud computing environment.

Parent Category: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Cloud hosting is similar to traditional web hosting, except it leverages cloud computing and server virtualisation technology in order to create a hosting environment with greater flexibility, scale and resilience.

How it works

The computing resources required for hosting your site or application are spread across multiple physical inter-connnected servers, and resources may be allocated and purchased according to your needs without any technical upheaval or downtime.  This is the essence of Cloud Computing and on-demand Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).  What you end up with is a super-flexible virtual server that you can customise, grow or shrink – and which isn’t reliant on any single piece of computing hardware or server. [pullquote]This is the essence of Cloud Computing and on-demand Infrastructure…[/pullquote]

How it compares to other forms of hosting

Cloud hosting is in direct contrast to other forms of hosting that are frequently offered – such as dedicated servers.  Dedicated servers are just that, dedicated computing resources dedicated to you and your hosting requirement.  Because computing resource is dedicated, there are no economies of scale derived from it being part of a cluster and split amongst many hosting users.  Similarly because its dedicated, its much less likely to offer the ability to scale as quickly and as far as cloud hosting.  Indeed in order to scale you’d need to assign a large pool of expansion resource which would lie idle most of the time, and which you’d still be paying for whether you used it or not.  Another form of hosting is shared hosting or VPS (virtual private server). Whilst both shared hosting and VPS do leverage economies of scale by permitting a single server to be used by many hosting users, they are still reliant on a single server and its associated hardware, and still restricted by the amount of instant or scaleable resources they can offer.

A closer look at the advantages of Cloud Hosting.

plus-point  Reliability

We’ve described how Cloud hosting is hosting on a virtual server instance which itself is distributed across multiple physical servers.  Because of the separation of what is physical and what is virtual, your hosting instance is no longer dependent on a single server or piece of hardware.  So – for example – if one physical hard drive were to fail, your hosting service should continue unaffected as other hard drives can instantly pitch in temporarily or permanently in order to pick up the slack and render the resources you need.   Similarly, some cloud hosting services will offer full locational resilience.  What this means is that your hosting instance is distributed across resources that extend beyond the single data centre building (where the physical servers are located) and include a second facility.   This then protects your hosting from any downtime associated to any regional problems that could affect an entire data centre or region.

plus-point  Scalability

The separation between what is virtual (cloud) and what is physical also means that your hosting instance can sit on a potentially limitless ‘pool’ of physical hardware resource.  Combine this with the fact that multiple cloud hosting instances will be actively using the same resource pool (as in the case of Public Cloud deployments), it then becomes economically viable to over-provision resource and give hosting users the ability to instantly scale-up resources on demand or even ‘burst’ instantaneously in order to respond to unexpected surges in demand.  With similar ease, users can scale back their hosting resource when less is required.

plus-point  Price

When offered on a Public Cloud (i.e. multi-tenant shared cloud environment),  physical resources within the cloud can be very efficiently allocated running at a high level of utilisation without detriment to the level of service experienced by the hosting users.  Because of this, cloud hosting providers get more (accessible performance) out of less (capital and operational expenditure) – and therefore can offer competitive pricing.  Cloud hosting pricing will typically be a great deal less than dedicated servers, and carry a modest premium compared to technically inferior shared hosting packages.

plus-point  Flexibility

The advantages outlined above – reliability, scalability, price, and the separation between the virtual and the physical – give rise to one of the most compelling features of cloud hosting.  Whilst the degree of flexibility in a service will always vary by provider, cloud hosting provides the best opportunity for flexible resource purchasing.  Many cloud hosting providers will allow you to purchase resources individually, or may offer a wide range of services packages – so you can find one that fits your need.  Need more memory (RAM) and less hard drive space (HDD) – no problem Mr Customer!   Simply because cloud hosting allows resources to be delivered on-demand and is configurable by cloud management software,  there’s no limit to the flexibility that could be offered – either in terms of what resources are offered and over what time period.  Indeed some providers will offer billing cycles in minutes or hours, and on-demand purchasing by credit card.

Things to watch out for

Sure enough, whilst cloud hosting promises a great deal with few or no obvious drawbacks, it pays to do your homework and to understand what you are buying.  Here are some of the key things to consider.

moot-point  Security

Businesses are often wary of using services that they have to share with other ‘tenants’ as would be the case when buying cloud hosting from a public cloud resource.  This is quite understandable and is simply a case of needing to avoid undue risk to vital core business activities.  This risk avoidance may prompt the business in question to look at a private (dedicated) cloud solution instead, however this would then negate many of the advantages of (public) cloud hosting.  Security is obviously important, but each business needs to assess the degree of that importance and how in reality the security achieved would compare to containing it ‘in-house’ on a dedicated private cloud.   There are an increasing number of cloud security solutions on the market which can provide very high levels of security, management and control over your cloud hosting – some of which your cloud hosting company may offer you, and some which you can purchase yourself.

moot-point  Not all cloud hosting services are the same…

It’s important to keep in mind that not all clouds are the same, and whilst we’ve outlined the main advantages to cloud hosting in general, you have to make sure your prospective provider can deliver these promises.  What’s clear is that clouds can vary considerably, and its still down to the cloud hosting provider to manage their cloud infrastructure to ensure scale, resilience, efficiency, security, flexibility and performance.  To make sure you’re choosing the right one, make sure you understand how to compare them.  For this task our comparison tool for cloud hosting is a great place to start.

At ComparetheCloud we champion providers that can offer the best combination of all these things, geared around your exact requirements. Compare affordable cloud hosting suppliers

Take a few minutes to assess your requirements with our easy to use tool and we’ll give you three or more different suppliers who’ll be able to help. It’s completely free and independent. With the number of providers in our cloud capability database (CCB) growing all the time, we are getting closer and closer to finding your perfect match.

Which affordable cloud hosting supplier is right for you? That’s the question. Why not take a few minutes so that we can help you find a cloud hosting partner?

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