What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting really refers to the server setup at your web host. In a traditional hosting environment, your website is hosted on a single server, often alongside multiple other websites. Your site’s performance is restricted by what that particular server is capable of, which means that under high loads (like when your newest blog post makes the front page of Digg), your site may crash.
Cloud hosts approach things differently, though. A better term might be “cluster” hosting. Servers are configured in clusters, and your site gets the benefit of multiple servers for performance. In other words, when your site suddenly gets a spike in traffic, it can utilize resources not from just a single server but from all the servers within its particular cluster.
The Benefits of Cloud Hosting
Cloud Hosting provides a number of benefits over traditional hosting. First is that you get access to the resources of multiple servers for a much lower cost than would be required for dedicated servers. In many cases, cloud hosting is comparable in cost to better shared hosting services. In others, cloud hosting costs are based on the resources you actually use, so you’re only paying for what you actually use. Here you can see how much is the initial cost for a managed cloud hosting plan.
Cloud hosting services can provide excellent stability (provided they’re set up properly). If one server in the cluster goes down, the others generally pick up the slack with no noticeable impact on the host’s sites (provided there’s proper redundancy built in). Of course, if the cluster isn’t set up optimally, a single server going down could take down the entire cluster or cause other major problems in performance.
Another advantage some cloud hosts offer is the ability to access a variety of platforms and programming languages on a single site. You can access Windows and Linux servers simultaneously, opening up a lot more options for your site’s functionality. Not all cloud hosts offer this, though, so make sure if it’s something you need that your chosen host can accommodate those needs.
Cloud hosting is more easily scalable than other hosting options. Because you already have access to the capabilities of multiple servers, in many cases upgrading your site’s hosting is as simple as clicking a button. Check with your chosen host to see how easy it will be to scale your hosting as your site grows.
The Drawbacks of Cloud Hosting
Every type of hosting has its drawbacks. For cloud hosts, one of the potential drawbacks is security. Because sites are effectively hosted across multiple servers, there are more opportunities for security breaches. Make sure the cloud host you choose has proper security measures in place (this is true for any host).
Because cloud hosting is becoming so popular, you need to be wary of hosts who have jumped on the bandwagon without the necessary technical expertise. A poorly configured cloud hosting solution can be more prone to downtime or security breaches. And cloud hosting is a bit more complicated to properly set up than a simple shared hosting server.