We hear a lot these days about “the cloud” so what is cloud hosting? You can use applications in the cloud, store data in the cloud and host your website in the cloud. In practical terms cloud computing is simply a set of pooled computing resources and services delivered over the internet. If you produce a diagram showing how this works it resembles a cloud.
If you use applications or store data in the cloud the big benefit is that you can assess them from anywhere, on any device, provided you have an internet connection. Hosting is rather different, here the key benefits are flexibility and resilience.
With the traditional forms of hosting your site is maintained on a physical server which in the case of shared hosting also hosts many other user’s sites or in the case of dedicated server hosting hosts just your sites. In the case of the latter you pay for the whole server whether you fully utilize it or not. If that server requires maintenance or has a problem your site will be offline until the problem is fixed.
With cloud hosting you are not limited to a physical server, you just use some of the cloud resources. The resources required for maintaining your website are spread across more than one web server, and are supplied as needed.
A major benefit of hosting in the cloud is that it is very quick and easy to add resources (bandwidth, disk space etc.) if you are expecting an increase in traffic, and then release them when no-longer needed. You therefore do not need to maintain spare capacity just in case it is needed. In most cases you pay for resources used, (rather like you pay for electricity) so it is a very cost effective way of operating.
The other big advantage is that the chance of any downtime is greatly reduced because you are not dependent on one server. If one server were to go down the others would take the load without users noticing.
So why isn’t everybody using cloud hosting? Well the major factor is cost. No package of this type is as cheap as a standard shared hosting package so it does not make financial sense for a personal user or the small business user.
When it comes to corporate users cloud hosting is used by many medium and large companies but hasn’t replaced dedicated server hosting. The latter has the advantage that the user has full control over the server and who can access it. Despite the advantages of cloud computing some companies worry about security. In the cloud they have no control over where their data is physically held or who can access it (need to trust the cloud administrators).
However, cloud hosting does seem to be the future and as costs come down we will see more people using it.
More information about this issue can be found at best host sites homepage.