Cloud hosters ensure that there is enough server capacity – but not too much either. This saves unnecessary hosting costs. But the cloud hosting market is big – we give you an overview.
Whether shared hosting, virtual or dedicated server: Conventional web hosting is a predictable thing. At least in terms of costs: the customer chooses a service package that meets his requirements – and pays a fixed price for it. However, it is often very difficult to assess the requirements correctly.
How much web space you actually need, what the hosting package has to achieve and what service is necessary – this exact requirement profile usually only emerges in daily practice.
And it changes constantly. So classic webhosting is quite unpredictable after all. The best cloud hosting services offer unlimited packages, you can see a few of them listed at http://www.digitalnibbles.com/unlimited-cloud-hosting/.
For this reason, cautious agencies rent oversized hosting packages for their customers – and usually pay far too much. Price-conscious agencies start with little hosting performance, but often have to make improvements. Successful agencies, on the other hand, rely on cloud hosting: “Scalable, virtualized servers that can be used at any time always provide the service that is currently needed,” is how Domainfactory GmbH describes its Jiffybox offer, for example. There is no better explanation for cloud hosting.
What is cloud hosting?
Cloud computing comprises three areas. The basis is Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), i.e. the provision of virtualized hardware resources via the Internet. The Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions are based on this. These are working environments for the development of web applications. In contrast to IaaS offerings, PaaS solutions normally do not allow access to the operating system. The third layer is Software as a Service (SaaS), i.e. ready-made web applications.
- Cloud hosting is a service in the area of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
- Users gain access to virtualized hardware resources via the Internet and can set up computer clusters suitable for their purposes.
- In most cases, this involves hosting special web applications and large amounts of data.
- This allows cloud hosting offerings to be distinguished from developer tools such as Microsoft Azure (commission link) or Heroku – even if these boundaries are sometimes blurred.
What is the difference between private and public clouds?
A basic distinction is made between private and public clouds. Private clouds – also known as “dedicated private clouds” – are dedicated server environments in which the user can operate his own private cloud. Here, only one customer uses the infrastructure. This increases security, but limits the scalability of the hosting offerings. Private clouds are therefore predominantly aimed at companies that prefer a closed hosting environment for security or other reasons.
Public clouds, on the other hand, correspond much more to the basic idea of cloud computing: the hosting provider provides resources that all customers share. Every customer gets the optimal hosting service for himself. Ideally, they can freely select and change all hardware and software options at any time, i.e. scale them live: During operation, every server parameter can be changed, such as the number of CPU cores used, the memory or hard disk size. In addition, some vendors automatically adjust the resources used as soon as the hardware requirements change – which is called autoscaling. This is true cloud hosting. You can often tell by the fact that they don’t talk about servers, but about instances – but that doesn’t always apply everywhere.
Price per minute instead of monthly fee: How cloud hosting is billed
This on-demand scalability goes hand in hand with billing models that are fundamentally different from traditional hosting offerings. Instead of paying a fixed monthly fee for a server, the instances of cloud hosting are usually paid according to the actual useful life or the amount of data used: pay-as-you-use. Depending on the provider, billing is carried out on a per second to per hour basis.
If instances are not used, they can be “frozen” with some providers and the usage price significantly reduced. If you expect longer idle times for your projects, you should definitely pay attention to a corresponding price option when choosing a cloud hosting provider.
Amazon cloud hosting
- Amazon’s web services (AWS) are probably one of the most popular cloud hosting services. (Photo: drserg / Shutterstock.com)
- The Amazon Web Services (AWS) provide companies and individuals with a cloud-based platform for various infrastructure services. Each component of AWS can be purchased as needed.
The Amazon EC2 service is a purely virtual environment of computer resources from whose pool virtual instances can be obtained and returned after use. For each instance, a memory defined in its size is available. Amazon EC2 has special features, for example the Elastic IP: The booking of this chargeable extra ensures that every server can be reached under a static IP (normally the instances receive a dynamically assigned, public IP in cloud hosting).
Unlike Amazon EC2, Amazon S3 offers scalable storage space. It can be used standalone as cloud storage or in combination with other Amazon web services. Finally, Amazon Machine Images (AMI) provide ready-to-use images for virtual machines pre-configured with different operating systems. However, you can also use your own operating systems. Even preconfigured software systems such as databases or application servers are available as building blocks.
Microsoft’s cloud service called Microsoft Azure allows the booking of virtual servers that are operated as instances. In addition, as in Amazon Web Services (AWS), there are other cloud services such as cloud storage, databases or solutions for big data. Like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure can be used free of charge for some time. In addition to virtual Windows servers, Microsoft Azure also offers Linux servers and containers.
In addition, third-party manufacturers offer other services, for example for big data, data backup or the analysis of business data. In addition to providing services such as databases, websites and cloud services via Azure (PaaS), Azure also offers virtual servers and virtual networks. Both work together and can be connected to local networks. This means companies can work with servers in the cloud and connect them to local networks, building a hybrid cloud.
Companies can install services on virtual servers and also manage and monitor them like local servers (Infrastructure as a Service, IaaS). At the same time, it is also possible to use Microsoft Azure as a platform as a service (PaaS). With PaaS, organizations use services in the cloud such as SQL or Azure Active Directory. In this case, no separate servers are operated in the cloud, but server services, without access to the underlying operating system. This saves a lot of administration effort, but sometimes requires adjustments to the underlying applications.
The underlying servers are in turn managed by Microsoft and made available in Microsoft data centers. Azure also offers the ability to mix PaaS and IaaS. For example, companies using Microsoft Azure can create virtual machines that already have services installed and configured on them. Examples are SQL, Sharepoint, but also Biztalk or Active Directory.
All services in Microsoft Azure are billed according to the “Pay what you use” principle. Companies therefore only have to pay for what is used in Azure. Individual services and virtual servers can be frozen to save costs.
Google Cloud Platform
Google also offers PaaS and IaaS in the cloud with its Google Cloud Computing platform. The offering corresponds to the capabilities of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. Within the platform, there are various services for hosting cloud applications or running virtual servers. The best-known services are Compute Engine, App Engine, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, Cloud Datastore, BigQuery and Genomics. But also Cloud Dataflow, Cloud Bigtable, Container Engine, Cloud Dataproc and Container Registry are bookable in the platform. Companies can therefore book additional services at any time if necessary.