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What is Cloud Hosting?

cloud, cloud storage, cloud hosting
Credit: Gor Grigoryan | Shutterstock

Cloud hosting is a form of hosting that continues to grow in popularity due to its convenient and helpful functionality. This service is used to host websites, house domain names and manage databases. The appeal behind cloud hosting over in-house hosting is the use of offsite server resources that can easily scale to manage peak loads.

How cloud hosting works

At its most basic level, cloud hosting falls under both the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) classification. Under the IaaS umbrella, users are given the virtualized hardware resources needed to install their own software environment as they build a Web application. On the PaaS side, users are already provided with a software environment through which they can install and develop the Web application more quickly.

Each server in a cloud setting carries out a particular set of tasks. In the event of one server failing, other servers function in a back-up capacity to provide the required resources to ensure the ongoing availability of web hosting services. When you store your website in a cloud hosting setting, that information is spread throughout numerous redundancies to ensure the website is always available online for both you and your web traffic.

Cloud hosting typically offers all necessary elements of website management, from cloud storage to database management tools. Many services are designed with non-technical users in mind, offering a control panel of sorts with numerous features that make creating and managing a website easier than ever. Through cloud hosting you can manage your domains, set up FTP accounts for remote file transfers, edit databases directly and a variety of other functions.

Cloud hosting in action

For example, you may need to create an online portfolio of your accomplishments in the form of a website. Purchasing a server, installing the right software, learning how to manage that server and ensuring your website’s ongoing accessibility are just some activities you’ll have to do in order to host your own website. The cost alone could amount to the thousands for the uninformed. Rather than going this route, you could simply pay a monthly fee of less than $10 to have a web host house your website data and ensure its availability to the public. All you’d need to do is upload your website files to their servers and your website is ready for public use.

Cloud hosting vs. dedicated servers vs. VPS

Cloud hosting is used to describe a shared resource approach to website hosting. Your website is stored remotely and utilizes a series of resources provided by the hosting service. But you are using a resource pool utilized by many other websites and cloud hosting users. This can result in a decreased performance on your website if another website using your same resources requires more server activity. The end result is rather unfair, and quite difficult to deal with for a small business.

Dedicated servers and virtual private servers (VPS) seek to address that concern by dedicating server resources specifically for your use. Leasing a dedicated server or VPS allocates a specific amount of bandwidth and hardware capacity to your cloud hosting. Everything still works the same as with cloud hosting and the tools provided for managing and maintaining your website. The only difference is that you have your own server you aren’t sharing with any other users.

A higher price is often associated with a dedicated server, though the performance associated can make a world of difference for high-traffic websites. If you don’t have the budget or the traffic to justify leasing an entire server, you can instead lease a VPS. In this instance, a single server is partitioned into multiple virtual servers and you can lease one of them for a low monthly rate. Each VPS functions like a small server, dedicating specific resources to your hosting without the decreased performance associated with standard cloud hosting.

The benefits of cloud hosting

Cloud hosting offers a wide range of benefits from simple convenience to enterprise-level solutions. Beyond the cost savings of offsite hosting, you can expect to find the following benefits:

  • Reliable. As opposed to the ever-present possibility of failure with in-house hardware, cloud hosting takes place in an offsite data center made up of hundreds of servers with multiple redundancies that protect against failures and ensure ongoing availability to both you and your web traffic.
  • Physical security. The data centers where servers are stored typically have multiple security measures in place from ID card scanners to security cameras, thus preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing or disrupting servers.
  • Scalability and flexibility. The resources provided in a cloud hosting setting can easily scale to the needs of a client and aren’t limited to the physical constraints of a single server. If your site experiences moments of extra traffic, the cloud hosting service can easily borrow unused resources from additional servers.
  • Utility cost. You only pay for the resources you use and thus don’t have servers in-house that aren’t being used to their fullest extent.

Cloud hosting solutions

Many cloud hosting providers exist throughout the world, each offering their own range of features and functionalities to appeal to both the non-technical and technical users. The most popular of these include Just Host, Go Daddy and iPage. Each offers competitive monthly prices and a wide range of features to increase the value of their service.

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