*Note: Article major update and validation done on July 16th, 2012.
"Cloud Hosting" has been creating quite a buzz around these days. You might be hearing the phrase for the first time but the technology is not something new at this time of writing.
In fact, you’re already part of the cloud hosting/computing users (without being noticed) as Google naturally is a big promoter of this idea.
Google searches (as well as other Google operations) are operating under a massive computer infrastructure (cloud!) that people tap into from their local computers.
What Is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting is one of the many utilizations of cloud computing technology.
Cloud computing refers to any process (ie. hosting), method or activity that involves the cloud. The cloud, on the other hand, is the virtual server or system that is accessible online, where users can store and edit files, and perform a wide variety of IT tasks. This technology uses the real cloud as a metaphor, where one can imagine storing files in it, and being able to access it anytime and anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection.
Generally, a cloud-hosted website is operating on multiple connected servers. Instead of limited to a single server like what we have in traditional hosting services (dedicated/VPS hosting), the website now has the access to multiple servers. Virtually, the processing power is unlimited as you can always add a new server and scale up.
Cloud Hosting In Plain English
Here’s a video released to help people fully understand what cloud computing and cloud hosting is all about and I think it’s a good piece of learning material.
Characteristics Of The Cloud
To give you a more thorough idea of what it is all about, here are seven characteristics of cloud computing/hosting.
1. Dynamic computing infrastructure
This characteristic allows the cloud to easily cope with changing user demands and needs without the need to rework its architectural framework. As it works through remotely controlled virtual servers, the cloud enjoys the advantages of having standardized, stable, measurable and secure physical infrastructure, thus ensuring a high level of availability and flexibility.
2. IT service-centric approach
As opposed to the traditional service-centric or system-centric models, the cloud gives utmost priority to the specific IT service or services that it provides. This means that the cloud enables users to easily and quickly access its dedicated service or application, since it is powered by a computing environment specifically designed and fine-tuned to deliver the service or app in the best and fastest way possible.
3. On demand self-service and minimally or self-managed platform
The cloud enables both business agility and administrative control, as it allows users to set up and manage their accounts and how they will manage their accounts. With user-friendly interfaces and amply equipped control systems, it allows software automation and optimization for those who prefer minimal account supervision. This way, both the time needed to monitor and manage the account and the need for manpower to do the job are reduced.
4. Consumption-based billing
Here comes one of the key characteristics that make cloud computing cost efficient: with cloud hosting, users only pay for what they actually consumed or used. It employs a usage-driven, consumption-based model, which utilizes mechanisms to track consumers’ actual service usage and bases the billing on this information. This usage can also be controlled for those aiming to cut down on IT costs since as earlier mentioned, businesses are granted control for optimization.
5. Broad Network Access
Anchored mainly on the Internet, the cloud allows access to this colossal web’s broad network and reach, which is further extended through the continuously growing means and devices through which the web can be accessed. Thanks to continuous technological innovations, the cloud can be accessed not just through computers, but also through other Internet-enabled gadgets such as notebooks, mobile phones and tablets, among others.
6. Resource Pooling
The cloud hosting service provider’s resources, which include memory, processing, network bandwidth, virtual machines, storage and email services, are pooled together such that they can be used or accessed by different users. These resources can be allocated or reallocated to other users depending on clients’ demand.
7. Rapid Elasticity
Since cloud computing is scalable, it is easier to compute or measure modification needs for expansion or enhancement. Users and service providers can easily project new requirements on elements such as processing speed, bandwidth, data storage and license number, along with an estimate of costs. This projection can also be easily adjusted based on a specified period of time (long term, short term, etc.)
List of Cloud Hosting Services
|Cloud.bg Cloud.bg was officially launched on Jan 20, 2010. The cloud hosting provider is one of the first that supports cPanel/WHM on the cloud.|
|VPS Net VPS.NET launched their cloud hosting product in 2009. Scale your server up to 9GB of RAM. Full root access. cPanel compatible. 100 templates to install.|
|Cloud Computing ReliaCloud is part of a well established cloud computing company that delivers highly reliable, secure cloud hosting services.|
|HPC Host is a VMware Hosting Provider offering secure and reliable Cloud solutions with operational uptime and the best customer experience as the highest priority.|
|Cloud Hosting Free trial at Atlantic.Net cloud hosting services. All the benefits of VPS, plus much more! Get servers in seconds and save today with Atlantic.net.|
|Cloud Hosting vServer Center is a cloud hosting industry leader offering enterprise class KVM, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and Xen Cloud Servers.|
|TurnKey Internet, Inc. is a leading provider of managed web hosting and IT solutions to businesses and individuals in over 30 countries.|
|Cloud Hosting Webhosting.uk.com offers top quality unmatched cloud hosting, backed by superior network, support, infrastructure and 100% uptime SLA. Starting @ £30 per month.|
|Cloud Hosting Are you paying for hosting you don’t need? How about pay-as-you-go hosting? eNlight Cloud lets you pay only for resources you actually use. Order Now!|
* Cloud hosting providers: Please contact me at email@example.com if you wish to get listed here.
Benefits of Cloud Hosting
The Cloud is slowly becoming a popular hosting preference among users worldwide. Although there exists a difference of opinion on which type of hosting trumps the other — whether it is traditional, Virtual Private Server (VPS), or cloud hosting — there are undeniable merits to each kind of service. Considering that it is still in its early years, however, more and more companies are already relying on the hosting capabilities of the Cloud.
What would you benefit from Cloud hosting?
Pay As You Go With cloud hosting, gone are the days when end users need to pay for a fixed amount of server bandwidth regardless of the amount of traffic one receives. In the past, website owners pay for a dedicated server with a huge capacity. For the instances when there is an increase in the quantity of traffic coming in, this is highly beneficial. But when there is a drop in the load of the site, the bandwidth becomes underutilized. Cloud hosting provides a billing model similar to electric meters, where users only pay for the cost of servers they actually get to use. With a spike in the server load, the cost increases. But with a drop in the server load, the cost also decreases.
Scalability Crashing servers are one of the biggest problems hosting clients dread. Cloud hosting virtually eliminates these cases, as they use load balancing technologies and constantly have hardware upgrades. In the event that one server crashes, there will always be another server to continue the work. Downtime and crashing servers are rarely experienced with cloud hosting.
Cheaper Yes, you read it right, although cloud hosting is sort of a new technology, it is in fact a cheaper choice for many websites with heavy traffics. The problem is, when you are running a huge website with the traditional way, you need to reserve a lot of excessive bandwidth and computing power for sudden traffic surge (I wrote a detail article on how to calculate the safety factor of bandwidth usage but that’s another topic); with cloud hosting, you simply rent the computing power from the cloud provider. Whenever you need more server resources, you simply ask for more (pay-per-use model).
Environment-friendly Another advantage of hosting with cloud (though seems unlikely) is environment friendly. Think about it – when you go cloud, you pay as you go – this equals to fewer computer hardware and computing power. It’s not something like green hosting, but still, going cloud in turn reduce the consumption on natural resources (such as rare earth and electricity) and thus, less carbon footprint.
Security – Still A Major Concern With Cloud Hosting?
Questions like these arise when it comes to cloud hosting:
- I am sharing the same physical hardware with other users, is my data safe?
- Where is my data located at? (You no longer control the physical location of your data in cloud hosting)
The security issue is always one of the major questions and arguments raised when it comes to cloud hosting. For those with similar concerns, further reading on this article (article dated Aug 31, 2009) is highly recommended: Cloud Security: Time to Smoke Another One? Also, check out this interview with George Reese (Author of “Cloud Application Architectures”) where he discusses cloud security and the challenges it poses for new adopters.
Wait, there’s More!
Ron Woodall, author of Compendium of HTML Elements, recently wrote a guest post on WHSR to talk about the shortcoming of cloud computing and cloud hosting. It’s a great piece of article and I highly recommend it: 15 Reasons to Fear Cloud Computing. And, just in case you are facing dilemma between VPS and cloud hosting, check out my latest article on Choosing Between Cloud And VPS Hosting.