Web hosting has changed over the years. It began with shared hosting where a single server would be used to host numerous sites, but quickly graduated to virtual private servers (VPS) where fewer accounts were hosted on a single server. From there, dedicated servers were offered to customers who had a large volume of traffic daily and needed a dedicated solution that didn’t share hardware resources with other web hosting customers.
Why VPS and Dedicated Hosting Aren’t Always the Right Solution
The difficulty with using either a VPS or dedicated hosting account is that they don’t scale up particularly well. A virtual private server uses a portion of the installed RAM memory, CPU and hard disk space when hosting one or more websites for a customer. Imagine a scenario where a website hosted on the server receives a mention on a popular news site or Top 10 rated blog and their traffic that day could well double or triple from its usual levels.
Depending on the available resources of the VPS or dedicated server, this additional traffic could eventually stop the web server software from being able to serve new web pages to site visitors because it is unable to access sufficient hardware resources to do so. At this point, the site becomes inaccessible for current and new users when refreshing pages or loading new pages.
It is not always possible to add much additional resources to a VPS or dedicated server. Sometimes a web host will be able to dynamically reallocate the number of available CPUs and RAM memory allotted to an account, but this is usually restrictive within certain limits. Furthermore, should the traffic volume simply exceed the capabilities of the VPS or dedicated server completely, a new server is required to take up the excess capacity for the period of heightened traffic activity. Getting a new server properly configured and setup while all this is going on is usually not possible.
How Cloud Hosting Helps With Scaling Up
Cloud hosting is a form of distributed computing. Depending on the type of cloud hosting adopted, the infrastructure is designed to be able to add new resources. Whether additional RAM memory, extra hard drives added and configured inside a RAID disk array that mirrors data on additional drives for data safety, or a new connection to a SQL server are needed, the infrastructure is already designed to accommodate the change.
More than one server can be included in a server array with a single website located on multiple servers. Traffic can be automatically load-balanced between several servers. The load-balancing which splits the traffic between multiple servers can also be run intelligently where currently busy servers get a lesser traffic allocation whilst less busy server can receive a greater allocation. This further helps to smooth out traffic volatility issues.
Avoiding Data Issues
Rather than relying on a single hard drive plugged into a single server setup, a hard drive hub can include numerous hard drives, which can be hot-swapped when needed. This LAN storage can be accessed across the cloud network for flexible, centralized storage without the complication of needing to maintain separate data stores for each server.
The use of RAID disk arrays offers both scalability and data loss prevention by mirroring added hard drives or solid-state drives to the storage configuration.
Improved Security & Performance
The nature of cloud hosting in an administrative setting ensures that files are only accessible by the customer who owns them with no overlap. In many cases, separate controls are available to provide administrative or root access within the cloud server environment.
Unlike a shared hosting environment, the actions of website owners on a different site will not affect those using the cloud hosting environment, because it is better protected and uses distributed computing to prevent the total shutdown of a website or one resource causing by a single point of failure.
Because of these improvements to the overall infrastructure used with cloud hosting, performance is much improved. Bottlenecks and unrelated technological incidents no longer cause problems for a collection of customers and the technology is smart enough to route around issues when they arise, redirecting traffic to servers that are operating properly.
Cloud Services Continue To Grow
Cloud services continue to grow with different product offerings being released. These include public cloud solutions for customer access (like with cloud storage), private cloud solutions for use solely inside a corporation, VMware virtual computing environments to scale deployment of software solutions faster, Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions (i.e. Office 365), and compliant cloud hosting, which adherers to strict guidelines such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS, and GLB.
Cloud computing and cloud hosting is affordable and robust. It is well worth looking into for any business with growing needs that requires flexibility.