That answer is cloud server hosting. We’re hearing a lot of buzz about cloud computing versus running your own data center. Many companies never got to the point of investing in an full-fledged in-house data center. They don’t even get to the point of installing a rack in the back room with a few servers for web hosting, email and the like. Why? Because outsourcing all that to hosting services has become too attractive.
The smallest companies, like those run by independent professionals, small retailers, design firms and others, most likely begin with a customized template site offered by a local web services company that also provides the hosting. As they grow beyond the “brochure” site stage or want to get into their own design and hosting, they sign up with one of the low cost hosting services you find online, such as HostGator. When you’re paying less than $4 a month for a hosting plan, there’s not much incentive to do it all yourself
How can companies offer hosting for so little and still make money? The low cost hosting plans are all in the category of shared hosting. The control panel gives you the illusion that you have a server all to yourself. Not by a long shot. There can be dozens or even hundreds of other websites that you are unaware of all on that same server. Your only indication that others are using resources is that the site may run slower at times. If you use too many resources, you hosting company may contact you to say you’ve outgrown the shared hosting plan and need to move up to a virtual private server.
What’s a virtual private server? It’s the intermediate step between shared hosting and having a dedicated server all to yourself. A dedicated server gives you a complete machine with processor, memory and disk storage all under your control. It also means you have to pay for and manage an expensive resource. If you don’t need all those those resources, they just go to waste. If you need more, you have to contract for a larger dedicated server or a cluster of servers. That gets very pricey very fast.
VPS hosting takes advantage of virtualization software. A physical server is logically partitioned into a number of virtual servers. Each one looks and acts like a stand-alone physical server. Only you and your hosting service know that you are running a virtual server rather than a private one. The cost is much less because the physical hardware is being shared among multiple virtual private servers.
Virtual private servers not only give you more resources, but you’ll also get full root access so you can install whatever software you want and customize it to your heart’s content. You still have the limitation of sharing a physical machine and the difficulty of scaling up or down if your requirements change.
Enter cloud hosting. The idea behind cloud computing is that someone else has created a gigantic pool of resources that includes processors, RAM memory, hard drives and bandwidth. Rather than sell you a fixed chunk of this pool, they rent access to it. The same virtualization principles that you have with virtual private hosting apply, but the resource pool is nearly infinitely deep. That means you can easily scale to meet your current needs and ramp up or down later on if things change.
Cloud hosting servers are available with your choice of Linux or Windows operating systems, guaranteed commitment of CPU cycles, RAM and hard disk space, hardware redundancy for high reliability, full root/administrative access, dedicated IP address, automatic nightly data backups, and the ability to add familiar control panels such as cPanel and WHM. For all this you pay by the hour for what you use and there is no commitment, contracts or setup fees. If you don’t need one or more servers, just cancel them without penalty.
What type of hosting works best for your company? Most organizations will do well to compare VPS, collocated private servers and cloud hosting options. Get prices and features to decide the best solution for your business.