What is the Difference Between a VPS and a Cloud VPS?

VPS or Cloud VPS?

While researching this article it became very apparent that there is a lot of confusion about the differences between VPS Hosting and a Cloud VPS. They are both Virtual Private Servers, right? Well, yes and no. There are very many shared synergies between the two, but the key difference is the scale of the infrastructure and the cost of the service.

Both technologies are indeed virtual private servers, but a VPS is provisioned on a single host with a static, allocated set of resources. A cloud VPS houses multiple hosts within an extended, scalable resource pool that can also leverage additional cloud services on demand.

To understand the difference between the two hosting technologies, first, we must recap what a virtual private server is. A VPS is a virtual server hosted on a physical server platform, typically a powerful server with an abundance of resources. The resources are divided up into multiple VPS and sold individually as part of a hosting service.

The user that purchases the VPS is allocated a set amount of provisioned resources (CPU, Disk, and Memory, etc), and once allocated, these resources are exclusive for you to use. When you first sign up, you choose the Operating System, and the specifications you need. The VPS is provided to you, patched and updated to the latest revisions, then you are free to use the server as you wish, and install any additional software required. That’s it!

What is a VPS?

A standard VPS is one physical server that has been divided between multiple users. The VPS is an isolated server, with finite local resources. There may be many VPS hosts in a data center, but they are not interconnected and do not share resources. You simply purchase some server space and get to work.

There are several advantages of a VPS, primarily they are typically less expensive than a cloud VPS – simply because there is less overhead for the provider. Lower costs are achieved because there are fewer management costs, less maintenance planning, less technical support required, and less associated hardware, such as a failover capability or the integration into cloud services.

Another advantage is that the user rarely knows that they are working on a shared tenancy, performance is usually very good, and all neighboring VPS are completely isolated from one another by the host. Your neighbors can reboot, upgrade operating systems, and pretty much do what they like and it will not affect you.

So what about the negatives? well, it depends on your needs. One of the biggest gotchas is the lack of high availability, so if the host goes down, your VPS and all your neighbor VPS go down too. The VPS will be down until the host is fixed.

Some questions can be raised over VPS security, although the likelihood of a breach occurring is still very slim, especially if you choose a reputable VPS provider. However, major security flaws have been previously discovered in some VPS host hypervisors, a weakness where it has been possible for any VPS to access another VPS at the hardware layer.

The VMware Spectre Meltdown vulnerability is a good example here, in 2018, a security flaw was discovered in all Intel, AMD, and ARM server CPUs, the flaw could result in code being executed on any shared guest on the host. This vulnerability caused many sleepless nights for support engineers around the globe. It is important to mention here as this example offers substantial evidence of the risks that can potentially happen if your hosting provider does not keep everything up to date.

As with all VPS that do not use dedicated hosts, the noisy neighbor syndrome is a possibility. It is much less likely these days as VPS servers CPU and Memory are extremely powerful. However, there is still a slim chance that a neighboring server may bottleneck or hog system resources, causing your VPS to go slow.

Finally, another possible limit of a VPS is that the servers are not scalable, meaning that the VPS will always be restricted by the host’s physical hardware configuration. There will always be a finite limit to the available resources, therefore, your requirements can outgrow your VPS host, meaning that you have to look at migrating to another server or provider, which will always result in downtime.

What is a Cloud VPS?

A cloud VPS is a cluster of multiple VPS hosts that are interconnected with shared networking and storage devices. The network layer can be interconnected with other cloud infrastructure such as a managed backup service or disaster recovery solution. With a cloud VPS, you have the option of a shared tenancy or dedicated tenancy. Dedicated is where you are allocated an entire server for your use, shared hosting is when the infrastructure is shared between you and other clients.

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There are a lot of advantages here over a standard VPS, High Availability creates an environment that is capable of failing over VPS to another host in the event of a server outage. Combine this with huge scalability potential, where essentially you can consume numerous VPS, huge volumes or storage, memory and compute. The resources you need to tap into are always available on-demand.

With this added flexibility comes a slight increase in price, but if you choose the right provider the additional benefits can be huge. You consume a hierarchically secure service, which is completely managed by the provider. You don’t need to worry about purchasing hardware, updating firmware, and keeping the data center lights on. That is all done for you.

Yes, dedicated cloud hosting can be expensive, but shared hosting with a good provider will give you an affordable platform that is more than capable for the majority of workloads. Add to that the ability to bolt on additional services such as backups, snapshots, one-click applications, managed networking, managed storage – you can see why cloud VPS is so popular.

So there it is, we hope that you now have a much better understanding of what the difference between a VPS and a cloud VPS is. There has been a decline in the popularity of standard VPS hosting in recent years. A decade ago, VPS was big business, but as the cloud revolution has swept the globe, standard VPS (sometimes called unmanaged hosting) is rapidly being overtaken with Cloud VPS. Nearly everything on the market today is from a Cloud VPS hosting provider.

Ready to try a Cloud VPS? You can deploy a free-to-use Cloud VPS from Atlantic.Net for one full year.

By Chase Higbee, Lead IT Strategist at Atlantic.Net

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