“What exactly is Cloud hosting?”
“Is it for me?”
“And what is so special about it?”
“Is it expensive?”
These are probably some of the questions that you have with regards to cloud hosting. While much has been written and debated about cloud hosting, not many people truly grasp it. Perhaps that’s because it’s more of a concept than about physical servers.
History of Cloud Hosting
Until recently, we have to constantly upgrade our IT infrastructure in order to meet the ever-changing business needs. However, doing this requires a lot of investment in time and money (it’s expensive!). On top of that, scalability is slow and more often than not, unable to achieve the best performance possible.
Then enter cloud computing where optimized data centers are connected to provide hardware, software and resources to organizations, businesses and individuals. This way, they do not need to physically own the hardware or software or resources. These are provided by the service providers, for a fee of course. Imagine that instead of having a physical server in your office or home, you now upload your data into the cloud to have it stored as a backup to be access at anytime, anywhere using any devices connected to the internet.
There are many services running through cloud computing. Good examples are like Gmail, cloud applications like Google Docs, photos or files storage and sharing like Flickr.
It is this technology that hosting providers leverage on to offer cloud hosting services.
What is Cloud Hosting
How would you like to have a hosting plan that has 99.99% uptime and resources are instantly scalable to what you require depending on your websites’ peak and trough? Great, isn’t it?
Here’s more. What if we tell you that you only need to pay for what you have used, much like when you pay for your phone and utilities usage?
You would be wondering if the plan’s for real?!
It is real indeed. Cloud hosting is a type of web hosting plan, where the hosting provider manages a network of interconnected web servers to offer you various hosting services eg website hosting, email hosting, FTP and so forth.
Instead of relying on just one server (like traditional hosting), cloud hosting is about taking advantage of clusters of servers, usually located all around the world, to provide hosting services and to store data.
Cloud hosting is still rather new compared to other types of hosting like shared hosting, dedicated servers and VPS. But the trend is growing and there are more and more people preferring cloud hosting.
What makes cloud hosting the preferred choice?
Cloud Hosting benefits
One of the most common headaches among web hosting users is the time and money required to buy more disk space or upgrade to a higher plan and maintain these additional hardware. However, in a bid to avoid downtime or website shutdown during unexpected traffic surges, most of us usually sign up for plans that provides higher resources than our average requirement.
There is hardly any downtime in cloud hosting. You see, by having such a large network of servers offering redundant services, hosting providers are able to ensure that should there be a failure in one server, a backup server would be quickly deployed to temporary take over and render the same services. So that you don’t experience service failure.
Pay As You Use
With traditional hosting (shared and dedicated) and VPS hosting, you are required to pay a fixed amount of fees regardless of how much space and bandwidth you use. This works well when you have high traffic but during low traffic days, your paid bandwidth is underutilized.
With cloud hosting, you only pay for what you use. Cloud hosting providers uses a billing system that is similar to that of electricity meters, where you are only billed for what you actually use. In other words, your hosting charges will increase if you record a higher server usage and vice versa. Great for unpredictable resources usage.
Because cloud hosting promotes the optimization of hardware and reduces the need for excessive resources, it is indeed a greener hosting option. Consumption of natural resources too would be reduced and there will be less impact on the environment.
Having said that, there are some cloud hosting providers who offer fixed price plans too. This is suitable for those who prefer predictability in their bills.
Anytime, Anywhere, Any Devices Access
As cloud hosting servers are virtual, access to the network is not limited to just your hard disk. Your data and applications are stored virtually. And this means that you can access them from anywhere, at anytime and from any devices that is connected to the internet eg PCs, laptops, mobile phones and tablets!
Wondering if all these are too good to be true? Well, there are some concerns actually. For one, there’s the security and privacy issue.
How secure are your data? There are software that allows yo to sniff out information which are being transferred over the internet. Yes, sometimes even encrypted information. How do we protect ourselves from these prying opportunists or competitors? Some rightfully suggested that we should take extra steps to prevent our data from being intercepted. Introduce layers of security. Train your IT staff and have them conduct regular checks on your system.
Top 5 Cloud Hosting Providers
Starts at $99.99 per month
As one of the leaders in cloud web hosting, IX Web Hosting has state-of-the-art technology and powerful servers. They offer 4 different cloud hosting plans which are Professional, Business, Corporate and Enterprise plans for both Linux and Windows operating platforms.
With features like guaranteed RAM, 2 dedicated IP addresses and 3 different Storage Area Network (SAN) tiers, they boost one of the best cloud web hosting features around. IX Web Hosting is currently offering some fantastic reductions on their hosting plans that are worth checking out. Visit their website to find out more.
Starts at $20 per month
Site5’s exclusively developed SiteAdmin control panel is cPanel based and provides easy navigations and has loads of easy-to-use tools. There’s a MultiAdmin control panel that allows for building a separate control panel for each domain.
Site5 offers 3 cloud web hosting plans. They are Plus at $20 per month, Advance at $27 per month and Premium at $36 per month. Difference between these plans lie in the disk space and bandwidth offered. They have free trials for interested users – so, do check them out and take up the free trials!
Starts at $50 per month
CloudLayer is managed by SoftLayer, a company that is well-known for reliable and powerful technology in the hosting industry.
CloudLayer’s hosting plans are very flexible and highly customizable. You are free to choose the specifications according to your requirements, such as either pay hourly or monthly, and you can either select CloudLayer’s pre-configured configurations or customize your own CPU, RAM and storage requirements. Also, should the need arises, you can even “Build Your Own Cloud server”!
Starts at 1.5¢ per hour
Rackspace’s cloud services include Linux/Windows hosting, storage & content delivery and platform management. Rackspace cloud hosting prices start at $0.015 per hour or $10.95 per month (based on an estimated 730 hours usage) for 256MB RAM and 10GB disk space and price will increase as resources increase.
There is currently an offer of 25 days no risk trial, where you get to try out their cloud hosting and should you wish to discontinue within 25 days, you don’t have to pay them anything. Worth a try!
Starts at $50 per month
SingleHop is the number 1 fastest growing IT provider in the US. They leaped into the cloud hosting scene in January 2011 and had never looked back since.
SingleHop’s cloud hosting comes in 2 major packages ie Public Cloud and Private Cloud hosting. They do offer some of the more competitive cloud hosting prices. For a minimum of a 2.4Ghz CPU, 1GB memory and 5 GB storage plan, price is at $50 per month for Public Cloud hosting.
Though the concept is still relatively new and there are improvements that can be done on cloud hosting, I believe that cloud hosting is the future. Server malfunction, data loss, unreliable uptime, high hardware and software costs as well as server maintenance will soon be a thing of the past.
Currently, most cloud hosting users are large organizations. But smaller businesses and even bloggers are seriously jumping on the cloud hosting bandwagon in recent years now that the price has dropped somewhat. Give it a few more years and I’m pretty sure most of us would be floating on the Clouds!