What is Cloud Hosting?

An Introductory Overview

“Cloud Hosting” has been the buzzword of tons of discussions among techies these days. For some people this may be a new term to know but for other people who are little more technology curious, this is a term which is doing the rounds of latest web technologies on the internet.

To understand the principle of cloud hosting, one can just think of a puzzle where there is a group of persons and each of them knows a unique part of a story. Once they sit together, they can tell the complete story to someone or every one, but if anyone is absent, the story cannot be completed. Something similar to it is the internet technology what is known as “Cloud Hosting”.

Cloud hostng means to host the information and data over muliple interconnected machines (computers), and using this in a collaborative manner whenever required. This means, that there are multiple computers available, interconnected to each other for either way communication, data is partially stored on each of them, and whenever required, they contribute to the data pool with the partial data with them to give the data pool a complete shape. This is another innovative manner of information storing, sharing, and reconstructing.

Traditional Hosting Techniques

Before anyone can understand and appreciate the modern hosting technique of Cloud Hosting, one needs to be aware of the traditional manners of hosting so that a true appreciation to this modern innovation can be offered. Data hosting is not as new concept as the Cloud Hosting and in fact it has a fairly long history too. There have been traditional hosting mechanisms like home server hosting, shared server hosting, virtual private hosting, and dedicated server hosting etc. Let us have a brief look on them.

Home server

Home server is usually a single computing machine placed in a private residence which can be used to host one or more web sites from a usually consumer grade broadband connection. Home server can be machines built for specific application purposes or more commonly old PCs. Some ISPs actively attempt to block home servers by disallowing incoming requests to TCP port 80 of the user’s connection and by refusing to provide static IP addresses. A common way to attain a reliable DNS hostname is by creating an account with a dynamic DNS service. A dynamic DNS service will automatically change the IP address that a URL points to when the IP address changes.

Shared Hosing Service

In the shared hosting service the web or data or the application is hosted with many other applications on a commonly shared server. Typically, all the applications or web sites may share a common pool of server resources, such as RAM and the CPU.

Virtual Private Server or the Virtually Dedicated Server

Virtual private server is another innovative manner of web hosting in which virtualization technology is employed in order to allow multiple logical servers to run on a single physical server. This is also known as Dedicated virtualisation, or Private Cloud.

Dedicated virtualisation, or Private Cloud is built on dedicated servers running hypervisor software e.g. VMware, Xen or Hyper-V. The hypervisor software provides a very light weight Operating System specifically to enable virtualisation, allowing the service provider to create multiple virtual servers on one physical server. This means that a single physical server virtually acts like if multiple servers are installed for use. Each existing virtual server behaves in entirely independent way from the others. It also works in the same way as a standard stand alone physical server. This allows much higher utilisation of the available CPU resources. Private Cloud combines resource and budget optimisation with rapid scaling up or down, together with the higher security, and improved reliability of a Managed Hosting Solution.

Dedicated hosting service

Dedicated Hosting Service is also called managed hosting service. In this type of hosting service, the service provider owns and manages the machine and lease out the full control to the client. Management of the server includes continous monitoring of server and ensuring unintrrupted, effective, and efficient working of the server.

This can further include the backup services, installation of security patches and various levels of technical support. Managed Hosting offers its clients the peace of mind of hosting on dedicated infrastructure where the client owns the entire control over the server in high security data centres. The client enjoys technical support 24 X 7 X 365 by a dedicated team of expert technicians and also account managers in many cases. The main benefits of Managed Hosting include converting capex to opex where the client takes the infrastructure on lease and need not to purchase and set up the entire hardware and software. On the same side, the service provider provides the client with a dedicated team of support technicians at its service 24 hours a day and the client need not to hire its team for these tasks. The service provider also offers the security of data, with multiple redundant connections to the Internet to ensure continuous service of the applicaions hosted on its servers.

Colocation web hosting service

Colocation web hosting service is quie similar to the dedicated web hosting service, but the user owns the colo server. In this service, the hosting company provides physical space that the server takes up and takes care of the server. This is the most powerful and expensive type of web hosting service. In most cases, the colocation provider may provide little or even zero support directly for the machines of their clients. They may decide to provide only the electrical power, Internet access, and storage facilities for the server. In most cases for colo servers, the client would have his own administrator, who would visit the data center on site and do any needful hardware upgrades or changes. Co-location facilities hence provide just the Internet connection, uninterrupted power supply and climate control, but let the client do his own system administration.

Cloud Hosting

Thereafter came another innovation, “The Cloud Hosting” in which the user can increase its infrastructure without actual ownership to it. Cloud Hosting is a new type of hosting platform that allows customers powerful, scalable and reliable hosting based on clustered load-balanced servers and utility billing. Removing single-point of failures and allowing customers to pay for only what they use versus what they could use.
Cloud Hosting in detail

The Cloud

The term ‘Cloud’ is a metaphor for ‘Internet’ and is originated from the literal ‘fluffy cloud’ image so beloved of illustrators when physically depicting the internet on IT architecture diagrams. “Cloud Hosting” therefore can be simply understood as ‘Internet Hosting”. Cloud Hosting has now come to an acknowledgeable meaning of ‘Hosting Web Resources that over the internet as a service to users’. This can be taken as a revolution offering the services of the infrastructure and products without their physical purchases.

A cloud is basically an infrastructure that operates on a distributed data center environment over multiple connected servers, instead of limiting the hosting to a single server (traditional hosting). The infrastructure is scalable and is virtually unlimited with an assumption that a new server can always be added and scaled up as per the requirements.

The Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting can be understood as the use of a number of third party web hosting services to meet the storage and hosting needs permanently or even for the temporary needs time to time. Here the Cloud means to the Internet. With cloud hosting, the service taking companies can scale up to massive capacities in an instant without having to invest in new infrastructure. They can also scale down the infrastructure if finds no use of them in future. For meeting any temporary need, the infrastructure can be again scaled up instantly any time. Cloud hosting is of great benefits to the small and medium sized business companies. Cloud hosting is self service, billed on time basis hourly or monthly, and controlled via a web interface or API.

Over recent years, ‘Cloud’ has suffered from a lack of definition, but for many users of this term, the definition of Cloud Hosting is simple. It is believed that the ‘cloud hosting’ gives organisations access to a resilient, high availability ‘infrastructure as a service’ solution that offers IT outsourcing at lower cost than in-house. It provides and manages the services of hosting infrastructure and the clients use it when they want and as often as they want. The greatest thing in this is that the clients have liberty of paying only for the services that they utilise or consume and that too only for the time they use.

Cloud hosting, grid servers or more specifically cloud computing refers to distributing or clustering any website or a data pool across multiple servers. These multiple servers are known as the cloud servers. It literally means that multiple dedicated servers handle the processing of data, and one major benefit is the ability to instantly scale without actual investment in physical infrastructure. If say for example the website or the data pool were dugg, or featured on the news, and the traffic instantly grew, cloud computing would allow for the website owner to match the increase in traffic with increase in cloud servers and instantly scaling.

With the cloud hosting model, high availability is simple and affordable, and disaster recovery and resiliency are dramatically cheaper. For example: Servers can be set up in minutes, new services and applications can be deployed, tested and fine tuned before being released to production environments, negating the usual install delays and internal procurement processes. Seasonal traffic spikes can be countered and that too simply.

Cloud Hosting Vs. Dedicated Hosting

Cloud Hosting is quite an innovative service different from dedicated hosting. Dedicated Hosting is a type of Internet hosting in which a server is given on lease to the client (or the service buyer) and the client is provided with the full control over this leased server. Instead of sharing the hosting space on a server with multiple clients, dedicated hosting services allows the client to rent an entire web server from a hosting service provider for their own exclusive use. Although it is very expensive, dedicated hosting has its own benefits too. Dedicated Hosting provides entire control over the server. One can customize the server as per its own needs. They have their own choice over the operating system also.

Cloud hosting on the other hand is a set of pooled hosting resources delivered over the Internet. The Cloud delivers a hosting environment that does not limit an application to a specific set of resources but offers a vast pool of hosting media to widen their abilities. Depending on the platform, an application can scale up or down dynamically and control its share of resources on the fly. The Cloud can quickly scale to thousands of servers to make resources available as they are needed. Further, the Cloud hosting customers never need to worry about buying new hardware to meet increasing traffic demands or huge traffic spikes.
Major Applications of Cloud Hosting

Applications of Cloud Hosting can be availed in mainly three ways:

1. Software as a Service (SAAS)
2. Platform as a Service (PAAS)
3. Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS)

Here the meaning of the service is that, the software, platform and the infrastructure, whatever the case may be, is not owned by the one who uses it. Rather, a third party sets up them on a large scale and offer the others to use it on a lease rental basis. This way, the owner of the software, platform and the infrastructure offers its set up as services to the others. The user of the services needs to pay only for the features that are of its use and only for the time for which the service is required.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting

1. On Demand Service: The client can take the advantages of the services whenever they are needed and need not to worry about them in advance. The client need not to invest in arranging for the infrastructure before it is actualy needed.

2. Broad Network Access: The cloud permits to enjoy the network based access to the applications and also enables the management of software and services on anywhere, anytime basis.

3. Resource Pooling: A large pool of users can share resources independent of their regional and geographical locations, their costs and other constraints. The resources can be shared very effectively in an environmentally sustainable way.

4. Flexible Resource Allocation: As demands fluctuate from high to low and low to high, the cloud hosting services can be scaled up or down easily and in fact instantly. The service seeker need not to have to worry about bringing new servers online or reallocating the resources.

5. Benefits of Measured services in Cloud hosting: Usage in Cloud Hosting service is metered and is charged often per user or per unit time. This means that the service buyer pays only for what service is used and only for the time the service is used. Service levels are usually contractually defined.

6. Cost Effectiveness by sharing of resources: Cloud Hosting is cheaper than other hosting service. The truth is that the cloud hosting service buyer needs to balance the up-front savings with ongoing subscription costs to determine the actual savings. The “pay as you go” approach lets the service buyer to balance its IT budget with operational expense spending instead of capital expenses. So it can expect to reduce the costs associated with server hardware, support and deployment, and related to power consumption.

7. Fast Service by ready to use infrastructure: Data intensive hosting in the cloud is usually expected to be about six times faster than in isolated data centers. The service seeker are able to deploy its applications more quickly as compared to any traditional means of application hosting. This Cloud service is certainly faster to procure on-demand services.

8. Easy Disaster Recovery: Security of the data against natural calamities like earthquake, fire, water etc. is easier and more effective with cloud hosting. This can be an inbuilt hidden feature of cloud hosting because as per its nature, cloud hosting is a geographically distributed hosting. Due to its regionally distributed nature, and because of the fact that the hosting servers are located in remote regional locations, the resources in one region stay safe from natural calamities in other regions. Simultaneous mishappenings in all the regions can be considered next to impossible in practical conditions.

9. Cloud Hosting is Green: In 2006, the Department of Energy estimated that U.S. data centers consumed about 1.5 percent of all U.S. electricity use, and current projections show world wide carbon emissions from data centers will quadruple by 2020. Consolidating and sharing resources can curb the waste of data center sprawl and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So yes, the cloud truly has a greener mode of working with no loss of working efficiencies and effeciveness.

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