Cloud servers offer power, flexibility, reliability, and client friendly hosting for small and medium businesses that have outgrown shared hosting.
New business hosting clients are bombarded with an incredible diversity of different choices for their site’s hosting. It can be a challenge to negotiate the range of platforms and the marketing hype that many hosting companies use to promote their products.
Given the complexity of the hosting market, it’s possible to get decision fatigue and opt for a choice which at first seems to offer great benefits and prices, but may not turn out to be the best choice in the long-run. It can be a pain for a business to move from one hosting company or platform to another — although it’s certainly possible — so it’s best to make a choice that will provide the best foundation for your business well into the future.
With that in mind, in this article we’re going to focus on one form of hosting: the cloud server. Let’s take a look at what a cloud server is, how it differs from other hosting such as shared hosting or a dedicated server, and when it’s the right choice for a business.
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What Is A Cloud Server?
A cloud server shares some features with both shared hosting and dedicated server hosting, but with a number of extra features that make it a very different beast from both.
A cloud server is a virtualized server. That means that cloud servers are virtual machines that run on a physical server, which can host multiple virtual cloud servers. Cloud servers are a complete server environment with full root access. They also usually include a guaranteed level of resources like processing power and memory.
To some of you, that might sound exactly the same as a virtual private server, but there are significant differences. The most important difference is the pricing model. Whereas virtual private servers are usually sold with per month contacts, cloud servers are on-demand machines that are charged for by the hour, so users pay only for the resources they use.
Is A Cloud Server Right For Your Business?
The major benefits of cloud servers are:
- Flexibility — Cloud servers are the most flexible hosting option: they can be created, destroyed, replicated, and resized as needed.
- Scalable – Hopefully, your business is going to grow, and that means more traffic to your website. A cloud server can grow with your business by simply increasing the resources available to it — known as vertical scaling. It’s also very easy to spin up additional servers to create a cluster of cloud servers. For example, you could replicate your web servers and put them behind a cloud-based load balancer — this is horizontal scaling.
- Reliable — If you have a dedicated server and something goes wrong with the hardware, then your site goes down. Because cloud servers are so much more flexible, you can have redundant servers waiting to activate in case of a problem. You can completely back-up a cloud server and have a replica up and running in seconds. High availability cloud servers are configured so that there is no single point of failure. Using failover systems, proactive monitoring, and recovery, it’s possible to achieve levels of reliability that would be vastly more expensive with dedicated servers.
- On-demand Pricing — Businesses pay for only the resources they use, and are not committed to a long-term contract.
If you think your business site has outgrown shared hosting and that you need flexibility, scalability, reliability, and a client-friendly payment model, then cloud hosting is for you.
By John Mack
John Mack is a technical writer for Datarealm, one of the oldest web hosting companies. You can follow Datarealm on Twitter, @datarealm, Like them on Facebook, and check out more of their web hosting articles on their blog, http://www.datarealm.com/blog.