What is public cloud hosting?
Public cloud hosting is offered by the world's largest IT companies through the operation of millions of rackmount web servers simultaneously across multiple international data center locations. Public cloud hosting includes Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) products for businesses, government organizations, education, non-profits, & independent web publishers. Large corporations can outsource their entire data center operations to a public cloud provider to save money on the costs of in-house IT departments.
"Some of the most popular and well known public cloud hosts are: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle Cloud, & IBM BlueMix."
Public cloud hosting platforms make various elastic web servers, Container-as-a-Service (CaaS), Kubernetes, and Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) products available to developers to build new software applications. Public cloud hosting is used for websites, mobile apps, & other data center requirements for complex organizations of any size, from small business to the largest companies in the Fortune 500. The ability to scale to support enterprise levels of web traffic in production is considered a key aspect of public cloud hosting.
Public cloud hosting - Platforms
AWS, Google, & Microsoft operate the three largest public cloud platforms whether measured by the total amount of web traffic, number of registered customers, or financial investment in web server hardware and data center facilities. The three largest public cloud companies manage a majority of the web hosting for Fortune 500 companies as well as popular start-up websites, mobile applications, and blogs. Kubernetes is a container orchestration system based on Google data center technology that will orchestrate billions of containers simultaneously in production for operating software applications, social networking websites, video streaming, etc. at scale. The AWS EC2 platform has millions of clients and is one of the most popular elastic cloud server solutions for web publishing, ecommerce, and mobile.
"Google, AWS, IBM, Oracle, & Microsoft all offer a number of advanced software development tools to programmers."
The main advantage of public cloud platforms for small businesses is that companies can access the same advanced software platforms for web/mobile application programming that the largest corporations in the world use for their operations at a fraction of the cost of independent development. For enterprise corporations, the public cloud is viewed as a utility service for hardware, data center, web hosting, networking, and other required tools for business operations where there is major competition between the IT majors for clients. Companies can save 40% to 60% with public cloud plans over the costs of operating a private data center for web/mobile application support.
Public cloud hosting – Advantages
The main advantage of public cloud hosting for businesses, non-profits, and independent web publishers is that the data center company will manage web server hardware purchasing, software installation, security, upgrades, and maintenance all as part of the ongoing subscription fee. Many public cloud hosts offer "pay-as-you-go" billing where customers are only charged for the exact amount of CPU resources, storage, or bandwidth consumed in use. When outsourcing large data center operations to the cloud, businesses can save significantly over the cost of independently operating their own web servers, as well as build their software products on the latest tools made available by Google, Amazon, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, etc. for feature support.
"Businesses and other organizations save on hardware costs for web servers and data center equipment; the needed investment and provisioning required for ongoing IT operations at scale; as well as the time and effort required in building platform support for microservices, databases, APIs, programming languages, & web server extensions when using public cloud utilities."
Public cloud platforms offer businesses the quickest way to innovate in web/mobile software development through access to the latest tools and support for new standards in IT at a small fraction of the cost it would otherwise require for the independent development and operation of these facilities. Businesses can use APIs, microservices, SDN, and serverless functions or integrate AI/ML/DL capabilities into their software applications, ecommerce websites, blogs, wikis, and social networks at a relatively low cost compared to the potential return on investment for the additional features.
Public cloud hosting solutions
Public cloud hosting – IT majors
The major IT companies investing in public cloud hosting platforms, such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, & HP, all offer a wide number of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS), & Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) products. Some of these services are available under open source licensing agreements, while others are proprietary. The AWS EC2 elastic web server platform was introduced by Amazon as a ground-breaking new technology around 2008 which allowed for website owners and mobile application publishers to more easily scale their operations past the limitations of a single dedicated web server. This led to ever more increasing outsourcing of entire corporate data center operations to the public cloud.
"Containers have become the standard for high scale data center operations in support of complex web/mobile applications with particular code, database, and web server runtime requirements."
All of the public cloud hosting companies now offer container solutions, Kubernetes platform support, as well as other options for orchestration on "bare metal" hardware. Container virtualization and Kubernetes provide similar functionality in elastic cluster web server orchestration at scale as AWS EC2, without the vendor lock-in and platform-exclusive requirements. Microsoft, Oracle, Google, & IBM all have extensive product lines of their own software tools for container virtualization which are used by businesses, governments, educational institutions, & non-profit organizations of all varieties worldwide for their IT management that can now be integrated with public cloud service plans for advanced web hosting and database support.
Public cloud hosting – Webhosts
Public cloud hosting operates at a scale where the data center of an IT major can support the web traffic of multiple web hosting companies at a time, i.e. running the websites and mobile apps of thousands of enterprise corporations and millions of individual customers simultaneously. Public cloud hosts operate at levels of scale with financial resources far beyond what even the largest independent web hosting companies can manage. Web hosting brands like GoDaddy, Kinsta, & WPengine use AWS or Google Cloud hardware to operate at costs lower than they would be able to manage maintaining their own data center facilities independently. Web hosting companies now build their brands through custom PaaS/SaaS products that run on multi-tenant hardware through container virtualization & SDN tools.
"Public cloud hosting companies increasingly provide the developer platform tools required by advanced web/mobile app programmers that smaller, independent webhosts have not yet installed on their server software stack configurations by default."
However, for most multi-domain publishers operating on shared hosting accounts, public cloud plans are a more expensive option which does not add any extra value for low traffic sites running on LAMP. Platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, & Microsoft Azure are preferred by developers at enterprise companies and web startup companies for the database, programming language, command line, and web server customization support required by complex web/mobile application teams. Custom coded apps need a reliable web server environment that can be continuously updated with version control software patches and security upgrades. The public cloud environment simplifies DevOps processes through script automation & software utilities with a focus on continuous integration and delivery.
Public cloud hosting – Virtual private servers (VPS)
Virtual Private Servers (VPS) use hypervisor virtualization to share kernel resources on a web server in multi-tenant environments with various advantages and disadvantages vs. container virtualization and public cloud hosting. Many web hosting companies currently sell Cloud VPS plans based on premium hardware with SSD storage and PaaS web server stack configurations. These plans include advanced caching for CMS websites, reverse proxy load balancing on network traffic, integrated web server snapshot provisioning, backup/restore services for databases, etc. Cloud VPS plans are a cost effective choice between shared hosting & dedicated servers.
"Public cloud hosting can be used for VPS installations in advanced data center orchestration requirements."
Because VPS partitions require more storage space on the web server, as well as a full operating system install on every partition, they are considered slower and heavier than container-based solutions. Containers use a micro operating system with scaled down driver & kernel resources that load in milliseconds in production, using Git to provision web servers with disk images including a full stack for web/mobile application support. It usually depends on the size of the user traffic and whether a web/mobile app needs elastic cluster server support as to which cloud container solution or VPS plan is most suitable at each price range.
Public cloud hosting – Dedicated servers
Public cloud hosting is ideal for websites and mobile applications with user traffic requirements that scale beyond what a single dedicated web server will support. Elastic cluster web server technology and container orchestration engines allow for code to be hosted in multiple data centers internationally with load balancing on network traffic. Dedicated servers can be optimized for web/mobile application runtime requirements using web server software stack disk images that boot in containers on demand. Other companies may choose "bare metal" provisioning at public cloud hosting companies in order to set up their own custom platform installations.
"Managed and unmanaged dedicated server plans can be found at the major public cloud hosting companies with provisioning of system resources on demand & immediate uptime."
The advantage of independent web hosting companies is that they may offer dedicated servers at a cheaper rate for hardware or with a custom server stack optimized for a particular CMS. The industry developments in public cloud hosting, remote network security, and multi-core processing web servers have led to the marginalization of the traditional dedicated server model. Public cloud hosts make more efficient use of hardware resources using a multi-tenant environment with virtualization that allows businesses to save money on IT purchases and to scale to any level of user traffic.
Public cloud hosting – Elastic web servers
Many startup websites and mobile applications seek to scale their business operations from the single dedicated server level to the size of Twitter, Netflix, or YouTube which requires advanced planning for hardware, software, & database support. Elastic web server platforms guarantee that a web server won't be shut down when user traffic levels spike unexpectedly, and can also be scheduled to support special promotions, peak rates of activity, or holidays. Small businesses and ecommerce sites view elastic web servers as a type of insurance against "slashdotting" whereas for the most popular websites and mobile applications, this functions as an advanced data center solution for production concerns. Developers need runtime reliability for elastic web server frameworks with support for multiple data centers.
"AWS EC2, LiquidWeb CloudSites, and Kubernetes solutions all offer specific examples of elastic web server orchestration intended for different markets of web publishers."
Most developers prefer a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) plan for elastic web servers vs. installing and maintaining a custom installation with OpenStack, CoreOS Tectonic, Docker Swarm, or Mesosphere DC/OS independently. There are an increasing number of DevOps tools and utilities which add automated script provisioning to elastic cluster web servers in production, such as Jenkins, Spinnaker, Puppet, Ansible, Chef, etc. Elastic web servers remain the definitive solution for cloud scalability that permit the most complex web/mobile applications to stay online under the most demanding user traffic requirements under "pay-as-you-go" billing.
Public cloud hosting services
Public cloud hosting – Platform-as-a-service (PAAS)
The Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model is most popular in public cloud hosting where businesses can gain access to custom web development, software programming, and web server utilities that are pre-installed on remote hardware and maintained by experts in a data center. For example, customers are seeking a particular Windows, Linux, or BSD web server environment with a custom software stack of database, programming language, or page caching tools. Managed WordPress hosting is found in the cloud with Nginx, Varnish Cache, & Redis pre-installed and maintained for secure network runtime operations. Alternatively, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL, or other database frameworks can be offered with a web stack including PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, etc. for custom web development & programming requirements. Container orchestration, Kubernetes services, and VPS plans can also be viewed as PaaS products in cloud web hosting.
"PaaS plans are valuable in making software services available to businesses and other organizations that otherwise would not be able to afford to manage an independent implementation of the same solutions."
In this manner, PaaS offerings level the playing field between the largest corporations and startups in the software development sector, enabling innovation, disruption, and change in industry dynamics. For small businesses, it can be extremely helpful to build upon PaaS plans to offer new software features to customers and remain competitive. There are thousands of new startup companies in the cloud hosting sector that work to provide solutions or services to customers and an even larger number of products competing for the same audience spend. PaaS plans are based around specialization in microservices, database frameworks, CMS/CRM platforms, web server extensions, & programming languages, leading to wider ecosystem dynamics and complex new software development across all sectors of business, education, publishing, & industry.
Public cloud hosting – Software-as-a-service (saas)
Many experts consider Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) plans, where customers sign up to use a particular application online through single purchase or subscription billing, to be the most common example of public cloud hosting. SaaS applications include email, word processing, spreadsheets, CRMs, billing/accounting, engineering, medical, legal, graphic design, & professional programming platforms. On a technical level, public cloud hosts both offer SaaS plans to B2B clients as well as providing data center services to the companies that develop SaaS solutions for retail clients or bulk consumer use. Businesses use Google Apps for productivity in the office or gMail for knowledge sharing, while then hosting their own business SaaS applications on Google Cloud using Kubernetes for multi-server management in production. Many companies are thoroughly integrated with Microsoft Windows and port their customer data from local office machines to the Azure Cloud platform across a variety of third-party software applications.
"In web hosting, public cloud platforms are the preferred solution for SaaS startups because these companies can scale their web traffic from a single server to enterprise levels on the same secure, tested, & continually upgraded network architecture."
There is increasing use of Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, & AWS in web hosting by service providers over managing and operating an independent data center. Virtualization and multi-tenant environments allow systems administrators to gain more value for hardware purchases as well as to avoid the costs of over-provisioning. Because of high competition between the IT majors for cloud services, businesses of every size can save money over in-house data center operations as well as the cost of development for software solutions using Agile methodologies. SaaS plans allow companies to spend less on systems administration and more on programming new applications.
Public cloud hosting – Database-as-a-service (DBAAS)
Most retail web hosting plans currently on the market include come with a combination of MySQL, MSSQL, and PostgreSQL services as part of the web server package. Linux servers include a choice of cPanel, Plesk, etc. for administration or command line utilities can be used instead. Microsoft, Oracle, Google, & AWS have all developed large suites of DBaaS products available on their public cloud platforms for subscription or under "pay-as-you-go" billing as solutions for custom SaaS application deployments. These plans can include proprietary database frameworks like Aurora, DynamoDB, ElastiSearch, Redshift, etc. on AWS or the use of open source packages like MongoDB, CouchDB, BigQuery, BigTable, Apache Hadoop, Kafka, etc. on other major cloud platforms. Some of these Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) plans compete with private cloud solutions in enterprise, while others provide a more efficient pre-installed web server environment with optimization tools that save money on development & programming time for SMEs.
"AWS, Google, Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft are all making major efforts to offer Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) plans that are enterprise-grade and ready to scale to the highest levels of use requirements for business, research, academics, ecommerce, banking/finance, medicine, law, engineering, science, etc."
Many of these database platforms are niche related while others are specifically tied into proprietary enterprise solutions and branded consulting packages. Since the main option that companies have as an alternative to the public cloud model is operating a private data center independently, many corporations are seeking modernization of legacy database solutions from past approaches where there is major competition between the startups, integrator companies, software platforms, consultants, programming standards, and established brands currently found in the DBaaS sector.
Public cloud hosting – Containers-as-a-service (CAAS)
The Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) market is a recent development that seeks to extend the technology trends opened up by the AWS EC2 platform and the release of Kubernetes by Google to open source licensing. AWS also offers managed container services and Kubernetes hosting plans that can be used for single website or mobile application hosting requirements or to provide the architectural basis for complete data center outsourcing. On business fundamentals, few companies can compete with Google, Microsoft, & AWS for cloud hardware/software services, but similarly, even many small businesses cannot compete with the cost value presented by public cloud plans. Because of this, most data center business is being centralized by the IT majors in their cloud web server farms, where Kubernetes and container virtualization solutions are primarily built around Docker, OpenStack, & Mesosphere DC/OS as the most popular open source solutions. Microsoft's Hyper-V, VMware tools, Parallels, and other companies offer alternative virtualization solutions.
"The combination of containers and elastic cluster web server orchestration engines like Kubernetes/Docker Swarm can be deployed in a large number of user scenarios, from single website and mobile apps to complete data center replacement tools."
The container orchestration and Kubernetes plans can broadly be seen to compete with AWS EC2 as the main market leader. Companies may switch from AWS EC2 to Kubernetes for less vendor lock-in or lower costs at scale, but with AWS leading in Kubernetes platform solutions, CaaS plans, and establishing K8s interoperability with EC2, this is no longer an issue. Pricing for Kubernetes (K8s) and Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) plans on commodity hardware then becomes the major distinguishing factor vs. platform of choice, or the total number of developer tools and utilities provided by a company for professional use. This places extra value on ease of container administration through browser based UIs or advanced scripting of deployments with software utilities and the use of web server disk images or snapshots.
The public cloud model is designed to support the web hosting needs of a sizable percentage of the Fortune 500's web traffic simultaneously, i.e. Google, AWS, IBM, Oracle, & Microsoft compete at the highest levels for the most lucrative enterprise business accounts. For small businesses, the public cloud may be viewed as an expensive upgrade over shared web hosting plans. The main advantage of public cloud hosting platforms is the inclusion of web development and programming utilities, including specific database frameworks not available with other companies.
"Kubernetes and container virtualization open up options for complete data center outsourcing to the public cloud, which involves support for the complex IT operations of multiple verticals or departments in a company."
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) plans allow small businesses to affordable access and use the same tools the largest companies in the world rely upon at scale to support web/mobile applications in production. The complexity of the public cloud service provider ecosystems offers tools to developers that are not found on independent web hosting platforms, as well as the ability to scale beyond a single dedicated web server to meet large user traffic requirements for popular blogs, ecommerce websites, social networks, and SaaS applications in production.