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Hosting In The Cloud: What is it and how can you use it?

Updated on July 14, 2011

Cloud hosting: What is it?

One of the most common "buzz terms" floating around today is cloud hosting. Despite the growing popularity of cloud computing in general, few people actually understand what these terms really mean. It's actually not that difficult to comprehend and can essentially be boiled down to the improved utilization of software and server hardware to deliver the most reliable web experience to end users. If you're still confused now, you won't be in a moment once I clear up a few misconceptions and fully define the concept. At the end of the day, hosting applications in "the cloud" saves time and money for everyone involved.

When it comes to applications and websites, cloud hosting is really much like VPS hosting. The main difference between the two comes down to how the underlying server hardware is configured to deliver resources across the Internet. A VPS provider hosts several websites on a single server, but gives them each their own share of that server's RAM, CPU and disk space to operate with. A dedicated server hosts a single website or single user's websites on one physical machine. Cloud computing and hosting involves linking many different physical machines together to provide one unified pool of resources for any given number of websites and applications.

The main advantages of operating from the cloud come down to flexibility and affordability. Hosting in the cloud reduces costs for customers by allowing them to pay only for the resources they need, when they need them. In addition, web hosting clients can quickly and easily expand their share of that pool of resources on demand, when they need it. So you end up only paying for the resources you need, and none that you don't. If your traffic spikes overnight, you won't be caught off guard and can rapidly scale up to meet that demand without going offline.

There are a number popular options available when it comes to this kind of hosting that offer impeccable service and uptime at a reasonable price. Rackspace Cloud, Amazon Web Services and GoGrid are the biggest names when it comes to cloud services, although there are many others. Many websites that get millions of page views a day rely on hosting in the cloud to meet demand and stay flexible. Before you switch your web hosting services over to a cloud infrastructure, you'll obviously want to do a bit of homework before you choose a specific provider. Every cloud host has their own benefits as well as drawbacks, and it's important to find the right fit for your website or business.

For server hosting at all levels of traffic and website complexity, VPS hosting in the cloud provides numerous perks with very few disadvantages for businesses of all sizes. Virtualization is one of the chief reasons we're seeing declining costs in the IT sector due to more efficient utilization of hardware resources, and that trend shows no signs of slowing up any time soon. Hosting in the cloud has already become more cost-effective and reliable than traditional dedicated server hosting and will become even cheaper in the near future. In short, you have no reason not to look into switching to the cloud today for your hosting needs.

I've listed some more articles for you to read, if you want to know more about cloud computing or cloud hosting companies.

Comparison of Amazon EC2 and Rackspace Cloud Servers

GA's Software Blog recently published an interesting article in which the speed of Amazon EC2 servers and Rackspace Cloud Servers are compared. Read the article: Amazon EC2 vs Rackspace. Are all cloud hosting services the same?

Host Your Web Site In The Cloud: Amazon Web Services Made Easy: Amazon EC2 Made Easy
Host Your Web Site In The Cloud: Amazon Web Services Made Easy: Amazon EC2 Made Easy

If you want a good start for hosting your website in the cloud, this is the perfect book. It is written bij the "Chief Evangelist" of Amazon, Jeff Barr. He is kind of the boss there at Amazon Webservices, and really know his stuff. Sitepoint is the publisher, meaning it's a high quality and easy to read book (I got about 15 titles from them, including this one).



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