Cloud Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting – Which Is Right For Me?
This subject is a dilemma faced by system administrators and business users alike, with many having difficulty interpreting the difference between the two. There are a number of core questions you should be asking if you are in the market for cloud or dedicated hosting; Do I need cloud hosting? Do I need dedicated hosting? What’s the difference between them? and which one is right for me?
For some users, this is a predicament that is easy to solve. You know exactly what hosting is needed for your environment. You may be an individual user that wants a WordPress solution for a small business. In that case, cloud hosting is the answer. Or, you may be a high yield seller with multiple revenue-generating, in-demand web servers. In this case, dedicated hosting may work best for you.
However, there are many businesses that span both of these scenarios. For example, a business that has very high seasonal demand, or a business that is having difficulty predicting its future capacity requirements. Maybe you are just needing some guidance and advice, or a refresh of which choice is best for you.
Although cost is important when deciding which solution is right for you, it’s not the only defining factor. Server performance, compliance concerns, security, and additional bolt-on services all play a part in the decision process.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting consists of a great number of clustered physical hosts that are interconnected with shared networking and shared storage. The network layer is interconnected with other cloud infrastructures such as managed backup services or a disaster recovery solution. With cloud hosting, you have the option of a shared tenancy, shared hosting is when the infrastructure is shared between you and other clients.
Cloud hosting provides high availability and creates an environment that is capable of failing over your virtual private server(s) to another host in the event of a host outage. Cloud hosting offers huge scalability potential, where essentially you can consume an almost limitless amount of server resources, huge volumes of storage, memory, and compute. The resources you need are always available on-demand.
Cloud hosting consumes 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 by the provider. Shared hosting with a good provider will give you an affordable platform that is more than capable of handling the majority of day-to-day workloads.
Add to this the ability to bolt on additional services such as backups, snapshots, one-click applications, managed networking, and managed storage – you can see why cloud hosting is so popular.
What is Dedicated Hosting?
Dedicated hosting is available in different flavors, but the important thing to distinguish is that in all examples, the user has the entire host (or hosts) exclusively available for your personal use. There are two common types of dedicated hosting. The first is dedicated hosting where the user leases rack space in a datacenter. This tends to be a private, isolated configuration.
The second is cloud dedicated hosting, in which you have your own exclusive, dedicated host (or hosts) but these are interconnected with a cloud hosting platform. You can leverage the private storage of the host, or interconnect with shared storage, shared networking, and additional internet services from the provider.
This creates a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario. You get a huge amount of resources available to you instantly, but you also get the capability to leverage cloud services such as cloud backup, snapshots, managed networking, and managed storage.
Dedicated hosting is a service that is ideal for any customer that has a growing need for powerful infrastructure, security, compliance, or is looking for the flexibility and cost-effectiveness that comes with having their own computing infrastructure.
Dedicated host highlights include a fully dedicated and private environment for your use with no shared resources and no noisy-neighbors, full server admin rights to view and manage RAM, CPU, and disk space usage.
Some providers offer the freedom and flexibility to provide any cloud host server plan type. You can essentially choose the power of your host, and you are given complete control to create, manage, and remove the operating system on your dedicated host. Most providers can also offer a hosting environment that is ready to meet compliance and regulatory requirements.
One consideration to be aware of is that high availability and clustering capabilities work slightly differently. Protection is usually provided at the storage layer. Typically a RAID 10 storage backend is used. In the event your dedicated host fails, your storage simply gets pointed at another host.
Failover is not provided by multiple hosts by default, but you can purchase two or more hosts if needed, and most managed service providers will advise that it is your responsibility to implement failover, load balancing, or clustering. Managed consultancy services can be purchased should assistance be needed, but it is important to bear this in mind.
So, which is right for me?
If you are a small business or individual user you will most likely start out on cloud hosting, and it is likely you will migrate to dedicated hosting as your business grows. Cloud hosting still scales very well, and you may never hit the capacity limits, but if you are driving extra demand for your service, and your business relies on ultra-low latency to improve the customer experience, then dedicated hosting is where you will end up.
Dedicated hosting typically requires a greater level of IT knowledge to implement successfully. If you have an in-house IT department, then this will be no problem, but if you are an individual with minimal skills, cloud hosting will make the journey a lot easier. You need to weigh the benefits of having additional flexibility over your host, its operating system, and software, knowing that you will be responsible for managing and maintaining the platform.
There is no one answer to this quandary. You, the users, need to weigh up the options available for customization, security, and compliance, the management tools provided, and of course the pricing. You probably already know that dedicated hosting is the more expensive option, but it really is significantly more affordable than buying and installing a like-for-like server in your own datacenter.