What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting uses a network of virtual servers to host a given number of websites. Unlike shared hosting, which shares the resources of one server among a group of websites, cloud hosting shifts websites between servers to improve speed and performance.
By distributing its resources across a network of servers, more elastic cloud hosting offers the flexibility you need to meet sudden changes in web traffic within a pay-as-needed system. As a managed platform, cloud hosting providers address the bulk of security and infrastructure server concerns, leaving you to focus on your website itself.
Given the web hosting requirements of the largest and most popular sites on the web, such as those maintained by enterprise corporations, mass media outlets, or widely read blogs, businesses were forced to develop new and unique ways to scale beyond the "single box" model of the dedicated web server.
Why Do You Need Cloud Hosting?
Small and medium businesses that are growing their audiences should start looking at cloud hosting solutions. Choosing cloud hosting may mean selecting a more expensive hosting plan, but with good reason. Instead of fighting with other websites over one server’s restricted resources, cloud hosting’s network of servers gives you a broad resource base that can support whatever your backend has to throw at it.
Security is of paramount importance to you but also to your customers, who are becoming increasingly protective of their online privacy and safety. Cloud hosting is inherently safer than shared hosting because your website is not reliant on one server’s hardware and software. At the same, cloud hosting platforms boost server protection with features like internal firewalls and data encryption, leaving you in charge of minor security procedures on your end.
Furthermore, for retailers and other industries that run seasonal promotions and special offers, cloud hosting can be especially cost-effective. Unlike shared hosting, more elastic cloud hosting has a pay-per-service feature that lets you easily access and simply pay for more resources as you need them.
Different Types of Cloud Hosting
Public Cloud Hosting: A public cloud refers primarily to a Platform-as-a-Service offering where a major IT company commoditizes data center hardware for businesses or web publishers with a variety of integrated software packages for web hosting. Public cloud solutions can save money for businesses, particularly where complex software is made available by industry experts on a lower cost basis than a company can develop them internally through employees on payroll.
Private Cloud Hosting: A private cloud is essentially the same as a traditional enterprise or small business data center, where the hardware is located on the actual premises of the business that owns and operates the network. Private clouds have traditionally been favored by companies that have specific data security, user privacy, or development & programming requirements for hosting databases, but this is changing as the public cloud becomes more mature.
Hybrid Clouds: A hybrid cloud typically involves a combination whereby some hardware and data are hosted locally on-premises at a business while other web hosting requirements are contracted through an online service provider remotely. In this manner, a wider variety of technical resources can be woven together to host complex web/mobile applications in production, optimizing the resultant final product or service, saving time & money on the combined cost of development.
What are the Benefits of Cloud Hosting?
Before getting started with cloud hosting, you should know what to look forward to. Partnering with one of the best cloud hosting services will grant you benefits including:
- Improved speed and more reliable uptimes: Consumers are looking for ultra-fast, ultra-smooth experiences, and you want a hosting service that can guarantee both. Thanks to a cadre of servers, hosting companies can detect where your traffic is from and switch you to more local servers which will boost your load times. Similarly, they can also switch you out to another server in the event of a malfunction or a security threat to a particular server.
- Managed server takes the stress off you: No matter how adept you are at handling your cPanel, security and software maintenance can be time consuming. Managed cloud services take care of a lot of the day-to-day upkeep, routinely updating their servers’ software to keep servers humming along. Cloud hosting companies additionally keep your site safe behind-the-scenes with features like SSH access, data encryption, server firewalls and frequent backups.
- Scaling made simple: When it comes to elastic cloud hosting, flexibility is the name of the game. Many providers give you the option of only paying for the resources you’re using instead of a steady fee. This adaptable payment scheme allows you quick access to extra bandwidth and data storage when you need it but stops you from losing money when your website or websites are getting less traffic.
- Go Green: Cloud hosting platforms typically utilize state-of-the-art servers that consistently use less electricity.
Hosting Factors to Consider
It’s important to do a little research before you select a hosting provider. While it’s tempting to choose according to the catchiest slogan or least expensive plans, take a moment to consider a few key questions. Here are some of the features to factor in before choosing a hosting platform.
- Does it offer robust security?
A significant part of cloud hosting’s allure is the added level of security it provides by not attaching your website to one particular server. Still, when you’re browsing for a cloud hosting provider take a moment to look into its security features and make sure it’s got you covered in terms of malicious attacks and unscheduled service disruptions.
- How simply can it scale?
One of the key benefits of cloud hosting should be your ability to scale with ease on a per-needs basis. A good indicator of whether an elastic cloud hosting platform is right for you is whether it offers simple auto-scaling options for an affordable fee.
- How does it perform on loading and uptime tests?
Cloud hosting’s distributed network of servers is supposed to help your website shine in terms of page load times and very low downtimes. You can and should be picky about load times down to the last millisecond – in the wide world of web, these seemingly infinitesimal differences in speed are going to set your apart from the competition. The same thing goes for uptimes – the best providers are going to be promising and providing upwards of 99.9% on average.
- Does it offer strong support?
Because cloud hosting takes care of a lot of your website’s security and infrastructure, you’re really going to want tech support that knows what it’s doing and is transparent about what’s going on. try to find a cloud hosting service that gives you 24/7/365 support via a number of channels.
Cloud Hosting, VPS and Dedicated Server Comparison
|Cloud Hosting||VPS Hosting||Dedicated Server Hosting|
|Performance||Elastic cloud hosting can theoretically scale to almost any limit depending on the user traffic requirements, software efficiency, and the ability to pay for the services required.||Performance may lag if there is excessive simultaneous network activity due to sharing the same hardware & system resources with an unknown number of other users||Performance varies based on the quality and specifications of the hardware, as well as software optimizations|
|Security||Cloud hosting security largely depends on the service provider given hackers are continually developing new ways to attack servers and that unknown system administrators in a remote company have access to data.||While VPS is considered nearly as secure as dedicated servers when both run the same software stack and OS, the ability of unknown or untrusted users to run exploits on a platform is greater.||In practice, the same exploits can target dedicated servers as VPS, and the actual environment may be compromised if systems administrators fail to apply security patches regularly or update installed software.|
|Scalability||Cloud hosting technically features an almost limitless ability to scale, depending on the hardware resources and budget of the business organization.||VPS supports larger user traffic than shared hosting plans, but the same general rules apply as those used to provision dedicated hardware.||There is an inevitable fail point where excessive web traffic will result in a crash or server shutdown.|
|Reliability||Cloud servers have the potential for greater reliability than both VPS and dedicated servers. For the maximum reliability, cloud servers need to be distributed and mirrored over 2 or 3 different servers in multiple data centers, or unexpected failures will lead to some downtime.||The same general rules with dedicated hardware apply to VPS, although most users relying on a single VPS unit for web hosting probably receive something less than 99.95% uptime on an annual basis, whereas a managed option depends on the service provider quality.||Multiple dedicated servers are required for 99.99999% uptime, as well as multiple data centers, where most businesses rely on a single unit and receive approximately 99.95% uptime on an annual basis.|
|Simplicity||Cloud hosting can be very complex or very simple depending on the platform. The use of snapshots to provision cloud servers has made the process much easier.||VPS servers are also available with managed or unmanaged options. Installing the OS and server stack manually can be time consuming, and systems administrators must be responsible for security patches and regular upgrades.||Both managed and unmanaged hosting approaches are fairly straightforward for systems administrators. Some variance may occur whether cPanel or the command line is used for administration of domains and server settings.|
|Redundancy||Cloud platforms automatically mirror data and use load balancing to keep multiple copies active. Cloud software is built to expect failure however, it depends on multiple data centers to be 5/9 fail-safe secure.||VPS plans do not include any redundancy by default, although most of the data is mirrored on multiple RAID drives in storage arrays. Accordingly, VPS plans are slightly better than dedicated servers for redundancy.||Most dedicated server plans do not include any redundancy and multiple hardware instances must be provisioned to insure this. If the server fails, it often requires a full restore from a backup service or an archived copy of the data.|
|Cost||Cloud hosting service providers enable pay-as-you-go billing, which can be applied to CPU usage, web storage, or bandwidth transfers. They exhibit a lot of variance in terms of service rates on different cloud hosting plans.||VPS plans are available currently with the same hardware specifications as dedicated servers but at a much lower cost due to the shared hardware environment. VPS plans are slightly more costly than shared hosting but can provide 10 to 100 times the power.||Dedicated servers are the most expensive of the web hosting options because of access to data center resources like expert staff, internet backbone connection, security, data back-ups, and more.|
Is Cloud Hosting right for me?
Who is Cloud hosting right for?
Cloud hosting is currently available to match every website’s requirements. For most small businesses or web publishers, PaaS cloud hosting plans like those offered by SiteGround, Bluehost, or HostGator can be found at around $10 per month which is more accessible. These services are mostly offering a greater level of system resources similar to VPS plans (more CPU cores, SSD storage, dedicated RAM allocations, and more) along with an optimized software stack with superior caching and an Nginx/Varnish Cache or Redis integration.
Retail cloud hosting plans are well worth the upgrade for small site owners running CMS platform software with their websites given they are designed to optimize page load speeds and overall website performance in accordance with existing best practices. Even website publishers making no money from their blogs will appreciate the CMS performance gains found using retail PaaS elastic cloud hosting plans available at under $10 per month and most of these plans are priced even cheaper than a VPS upgrade.
Who is Cloud hosting NOT right for?
Generally, websites never receiving more than 100 simultaneous visitors at a time, or less than 100,000 total page hits per month probably have little need to move to a cloud hosting plan. Many multi-site portfolio owners host 10 to 20 websites at a time on $3 per month shared hosting plans and never encounter a problem with the service, primarily because their sites receive less traffic.
Over 95% of the websites hosted on budget plans never exceed these limits. Therefore, if a website is hosted on a shared hosting plan and never exceeds the service limits like a simple Drupal, WordPress, or static HTML site, the site owner can probably use module and plug-in based tools to optimize page caching and still maintain near equivalence to cloud hosting speeds.
Choose the Best Cloud Web Hosting
Opting for cloud hosting is a sign that you’re ready to expand your business and take your web presence seriously. With cloud hosting you have the ability to scale easily at a moment’s notice, while the cloud hosting provider takes charge of a lot of the more mundane back-end maintenance.
Still, not all cloud hosting services were created equal. To find the best cloud hosting platform for you, check out our cloud hosting reviews and find the right platform to set your business up for success.