Cloud Hosting vs Dedicated Web Hosting: Which One Is Right For Your Business? | Hacker Noon

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@anabelyhAnastasia Belyh

As a 3x entrepreneur, I love helping people find their dream job with Cleverism & start a side business with FounderJar.

Hosting a website these days has boiled down to picking between two major options: Cloud Hosting and Dedicated Hosting. 

Naturally, there are also shared hosting and virtual private server platforms but any website owner with half a decent knowledge of web hosting knows that cloud and dedicated hosting are unbeatable options for the practical purposes of scalability and uptime guarantee.  

There has never been a better time to build a website. With the fluid options made accessible by cloud platforms that can integrate custom dedicated server capabilities, small businesses can now optimize enterprise-grade features that are still within their budget range. 

Some hosting providers and website builders like Wix even provide free web hosting to clients without compromising standard industry features like website security and optimal uptime guarantee.

Choosing Between Cloud Hosting and Dedicated Hosting

It is often a debate for any serious website owner as to whether to use a cloud hosting option or to go with a dedicated server. Both options have their advantages and would guarantee website stability, a fast loading speed for high website traffic, vast compatibility options for software and applications, and data security.

But both platforms do have their differences and specifics to the optimal solutions they provide. The avant-garde nature of cloud hosting plans is however closing this gap and we’re getting closer to a world where complex custom web server requirements can be provided by cloud solutions. 

We won’t be able to fully understand the advantages that flexible cloud solutions have over dedicated servers without first understanding the dynamics of both platforms. 

What is Cloud Hosting?

The basic premise of cloud hosting is that it creates virtual servers from physical servers. 

By drawing resources from bare metal (physical) servers and putting these resources in a virtual space, cloud technology creates a pool of virtual servers that can perform similar functions as the bare-metal servers. 

The cloud is a sum of the infrastructure of several virtual servers, while virtual servers are created out of a single bare metal server or out of pieces of several bare-metal servers that are spread across different locations.

Benefits of Cloud Hosting

1. Reliability

Because of their level of decentralization and shared power, cloud hosting platforms are notorious for being flexible and avoiding website downtime. 

If one server develops complications or breaks down, this would hardly affect the cloud as it would migrate easily to shift the lost fraction to another source. 

2. Scalability

Cloud platforms can quickly “shift weight” to provide more functions and resources as a website scales and increases traffic. 

Processor cores, more storage space and options, I/O processes, multi-layered databases, and web file caching services are amongst the upgrades cloud hosting platforms can provide to accommodate scaling. 

Because virtual servers can be created or destroyed in a matter of seconds, migration and growth with cloud hosting is seamless and fast. 

3. Fast Website Speed

Due to the structure of cloud platforms, cloud hosting services like Cloudways or Siteground can help businesses avoid slow website speeds. Cloud hosting can generate website speeds that match those afforded by single, powerful dedicated servers.

4. Security

For public cloud and managed private and hybrid cloud models, infrastructure is monitored and kept secure by the service providers, who always have a team of security experts on deck. Clients don’t have to worry about managing their server security, so they can focus on making the best out of their hosting service. 

Security for private cloud hosting is more complex, reliable, and user-specific. Users have more access to an array of options they can use to customize and further tighten their security, like deploying web app firewalls, using two-factor authentication, etc. 

Types of Cloud Hosting

To be able to understand the competitive advantage of cloud hosting technology, you must be able to reference the different types of cloud hosting, as the variability of their features spell out why cloud hosting is an increasingly versatile option. 

1. Public Cloud 

This is the most used form of cloud computing. Cloud resources are owned and managed by third-party cloud service providers and shared via the network to organizations. In the public cloud, several businesses can share a cloud, renting server space, hardware, and software resources. 

Public cloud hosting solutions are sourced from several virtual servers which are sourced from numerous bare metal servers. Due to this spread network of servers, public clouds are very reliable and can boast little odds of failure. 

They are also relatively cheap options with vast potential resources that can meet scalability needs at almost any level, making them an excellent choice for small businesses. 

Because the infrastructure components (network, storage, hardware, and virtualization) provided by cloud solutions are owned and maintained by third-party “cloud rentals”, website owners don’t have to worry about maintaining their servers and resources. Maintenance is handled by third-party providers. 

2. Private Cloud

A private cloud controls resources that are dedicated solely to one organization. The infrastructure built by virtual servers that make up the cloud is not shared with organizations like with the public cloud but managed by a single company. 

Because of this, private cloud owners have more access to customizing their server features to meet their unique business and security needs. 

Like with public clouds, the private cloud allows you to buy only the resources you need at the moment, having vast scalability options for the future. This of course means costs would go up as your business grows. 

Naturally, the private cloud technology and hardware source are managed on-site, since they’re exclusively owned by the company. But that duty can be relieved by outsourcing the private cloud hosting services to a third-party provider. 

The private cloud offers more security and control over infrastructure, sensitive data, and IT workloads than the public cloud. There’s also improved performance and the ability to customize protocols, configurations and tighten security as needed. In contrast, however, it is more expensive. 

3. Hybrid Cloud 

The hybrid cloud combines the services and features of the public and private cloud. By seamlessly connecting public and private clouds and integrating their services, the hybrid cloud offers an efficient and versatile collaborative platform. 

The options for handling workloads are much more enhanced and flexible as users can now use resources and share functions between their public and private cloud solutions. 

In addition to having the dedicated privileges of feature customization, improved performance, and security offered by private cloud hosting, hybrid cloud solutions offer unbeatable flexibility and maximum assurance of consistent uptime, even in the event of massive spikes in traffic.

4. Versatility of the Hybrid Cloud 

The hybrid cloud works by connecting multiple devices or computers through area networks (LAN, WAN, or VPN) and virtualizing resources. These resources are then managed and allocated into their needed environment by a management platform. 

Some hybrid clouds use an operating system instead of a spread network to manage workloads and develop applications. There are several hybrid cloud solutions out there with different specific functionalities, integrations, and features. 

Hybrid cloud hosting allows website owners access to the back-end of their infrastructure. It also offers several integration options for applications and management systems. The best thing about the hybrid cloud is that businesses can choose their desired specific configurations to their utmost convenience. 

This gives it a cost advantage in that users can select price plans that fit their optimal needs without having to spend extra. The power of the functionalities compared to the costs also makes hybrid cloud hosting a good bargain.  

What is Dedicated Hosting?

With dedicated hosting, clients have a single bare-metal server dedicated to their business or website. 

All the resources of that server including processors, storage, bandwidth load, and RAM are managed and utilized by a single client. These can then be customized to suit the client’s specific needs or configurations. 

Dedicated servers can be managed and owned on-site, or they can be rented from data service centers owned by third-party providers. 

Benefits of Dedicated Hosting

1. Capacity

Because dedicated hosting uses the resources of a single server, businesses get access to very fast performance and robust amounts of power and resources, so much so that businesses can end up using only a small part of the server’s capacity. 

2. Customization

A major feature of dedicated servers is the ability to customize features. Customization is almost unparalleled for dedicated hosting, and businesses can access a whole lot of unique operations like alternative operating systems for web servers, advanced page caching systems, or custom developer extensions for programmers. 

However, because of the complex infrastructure, more effort and resources are needed to own and manage a dedicated hosting solution. 

3. Security

Security with bare-metal servers is optimal. With managed dedicated hosting, businesses have access to top-notch security provided by data center facilities. Also because of the exclusive and non-virtual nature of dedicated hosting, there is a significantly lower risk of cyber threats. 

With dedicated servers, users are able to tweak their security features to match their specific needs and applications. They can also create bare-metal backups to insure data in case of disasters or crashes. 

Key Benefits of Cloud Hosting vs Dedicated Hosting 

1. Cloud Hosting Saves Cost 

One of the major things companies think about when planning a web hosting solution is cost. In this regard, cloud hosting takes the initiative to provide cheaper web hosting solutions for businesses.

Because cloud hosting plans operate by an operational expenditure (OpEx) model, businesses can buy as they need. 

Compared to dedicated web hosting that runs a capital expenditure (CapEx) model where businesses have to provision costs for the entire infrastructure of a single server, often buying up excess resources they might never use, cloud hosting solutions allow businesses to pick pricing plans that pertain to their specific configurations and needs at the moment.

As your business scales, you can take advantage of a pay-as-you-go model that allows you to purchase the services and features you need as you grow. 

Conversely, you can reduce your operational costs by reducing the amount of services you use. This, of course, depends on your need for those services as determined by your level of traffic.  

Such a scenario is most applicable within an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) plan. The IaaS services you utilize can be moderated depending on the size of your traffic. 

This level of price flexibility makes cloud hosting a practical option for small to medium businesses with a smart budget. 

Also, because of the sophisticated and innovative nature of cloud solutions, small businesses can get access to industry-standard hosting practices and cutting-edge functionalities at more affordable prices.

Cloud hosting solutions don’t require you to make “wholesale” purchases upfront like dedicated hosting but you should note that costs would increase as your business scales.

2. Cloud Hosting Reduces Burden for Server Maintenance 

Dedicated servers require teams with high-level technical intelligence and a deep understanding of systems administration to be maintained and operated. 

Due to this, a lot of time, effort, and resources in terms of technical personnel are needed to maintain on-site servers. Subsequently, this incurs more expenditure in terms of personnel management and adds an extra workload to company operations.

Public cloud hosting relieves you of such a burden. With a public cloud hosting plan, the maintenance and management of your server infrastructure is handled by your service providers, leaving you to focus only on the front-end capabilities. With this convenience, you can focus more on running your business instead of bothering about technical issues. 

Apart from receiving automatic updates and improvements on your public cloud service, you have access to the IT support provided by your service provider to resolve any issues you may have. 

Private cloud hosting is more complex than public cloud hosting so it requires a bit more technical management on your part. Because you have access to back-end infrastructure and you’re allowed to customize to your specific configurations, you would need more technical maneuverability. 

However, with private cloud hosting plans, you can outsource management and maintenance to third-parties. This way, you employ a managed private cloud solution that relieves you of technical operations.

This scenario is applicable when your private cloud service is managed off-site, by service providers, instead of on-site or within your company premises.  

3. Cloud Hosting Offers Seamless Scalability

Both dedicated and cloud hosting solutions are practical options for any business looking to scale and expand its website hosting needs. 

Both have the capacity to account for increased workloads and provide the necessary infrastructure to support surges in website traffic. 

However, cloud hosting solutions are a more reliable option because there is a less likely possibility of incurring website downtime or technical complications while adjusting infrastructure to meet a business’ scaling needs. 

Because resources are virtualized with virtualization software in the cloud hosting model and much of the infrastructure is kept in virtual networks or “pools”, changes are typically quick and harmless and do not affect the website runtime. 

Dedicated hosting on the other hand requires a direct operation on the physical server to meet changes in requirements. This translates to a higher possibility of incurring downtime while changes are being implemented. 

It is possible to reduce the risk of downtime while tweaking dedicated infrastructure but this requires elaborate planning, and subsequently, more time, effort, and resources. Cloud hosting in contrast scales more easily, allowing for faster implementation of new configurations and automatic changes. 

Migration for dedicated servers would take more time and planning. In the event that websites need additional processing power, they would have to be totally migrated to another bare metal server. This process requires a full-scale plan and would consume a good amount of time and resources. 

When it comes to increasing storage capacity, a bare metal server is limited by the number of drive-bays it has available. Changing or adding a new drive to an open bay without shutting down the server is possible. 

But for dedicated server features that control network capacity, such as the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) arrays, modifications that don’t affect real-time production are more difficult to achieve.

Hardware modifications don’t affect real-time production in cloud hosting solutions. Usually, they are automatically updated by the service provider, avoiding the burden of responsibility on the user’s part. Businesses only have to pay for additional features as their demand increases. 

4. Cloud Hosting Provides Innovative Solutions

Perhaps the head start dedicated hosting has is the full flexibility and customization required to run complex applications. 

Dedicated servers provide a base architecture that developers can customize to work with programming language extensions, tools, and third-party structures needed for programming unique and complicated applications. For this reason, it’s still the top choice for businesses with hyper-specific needs.

Cloud computing technology is however brewing a very innovative and competitive environment that is increasingly closer to matching the unique configurations made possible by dedicated servers. 

Cloud solutions are commonly identified by three examples: 

  1. Software as a Service (SaaS) hosts applications like email services, games, communication platforms, and CRM. 
  2. Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers database management systems, web servers, business intelligence services, and development tools.
  3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offers infrastructural features such as servers, storage space, bandwidth, virtual machines, load balancers, and networking hardware. 

These services are part of the ever-evolving solutions designed by cloud hosting technology to meet the custom needs of businesses and individuals. 

More unique cloud computing services that have been developed in recent times include AI as a Service, (AIaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS), and IT as a Service (ITaaS). 

These solutions add to the expanding base of possible applications for cloud hosting technology. Over time, we can expect more evolution in functionality and custom options from the cloud community. 

The best part is that these unique updates are made affordable to clients at deconstructed and flexible prices as opposed to dedicated web hosting where clients only have the naturally expensive option of paying full costs upfront. 

Conclusion 

Cloud hosting is a technology with vast potential for new inventions and increased capabilities. It has become integral in the development of the best website hosting trends for brands to follow and has only shown signs that it will continue to grow in its importance in this role.

While it still hasn’t reached the level of customization that dedicated hosting provides, the variability of its cost-saving solutions and the convenience it affords for massive scalability are some of the reasons why it’s the champion choice for businesses of all sizes, from small businesses and software start-ups to enterprise corporations and giant digital brands.

Large enterprises that can afford the resources employ developer teams to consistently work on improving functions and adding new features to their cloud hosting services to accommodate their scalability requirements. 

The intelligent developments and information derived from these operations are part of the inspirations that “savvy” cloud hosting platforms like Bluehost or Siteground use to generate the cutting-edge and industry-standard cloud hosting solutions they make available to small businesses and medium enterprises.

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