The past few years have seen hosting providers try and differentiate themselves in many ways – and one of the hottest buzzwords has been “cloud hosting”. Unfortunately, there’s no standardized definition of what this means, and so companies have been free to capitalize on the confusion. In this article, I’ll explain the various things that cloud hosting could mean, and also what it’s definitely not. I’ll also explain the implications for customers, and how NameHero’s focus on the cloud gives it a leg up on the competition.
Cloud Hosting and VPS Hosting
For a long time, the standard progression for a hosting customer as their website grew more and more, looked like this:
Shared -> VPS -> Dedicated
The distinction was easy to understand. Shared hosting means you literally shared your resources with dozens (or hundreds) of other customers, all with the understanding that none of them could use up too many resources at the same time. In short, there was no guarantee of resources to any single account. You might be sitting on shared hosting that promises 1 GB of RAM, and you might even consume that amount for a short period of time. But you can’t do it constantly because others need it too!
The next step then, was a VPS server where you reserved your own slice of the resources all to yourself. It didn’t matter if you didn’t use everything you had, no one else could do so either. And this VPS was in turn a slice of a single dedicated machine which was a physical entity. You could only have so many VPS servers per dedicated server by definition.
However, the cloud changed everything. Now VPS servers could be defined virtually instead of as part of a specific machine. Instead, hosting providers could now string together a large pool of machines and allocate the VPS virtually. So if a VPS account needed more resources, there was no need to migrate them to another dedicated machine. All it required was a configuration change, a reboot, and you were done!
Most VPS Plans are Now on the “Cloud”
In fact, the cloud model has been so successful, that I don’t know of any major web hosting provider that still uses the outdated model of “one dedicated server per VPS”. The cloud allows for much more efficient allocation of resources, and also faster re-allocation when necessary.
The Cloud and Shared Hosting
NameHero uses the cloud for everything, not just VPS hosting. We use the cloud even for shared hosting, which means that we can expand or contract the pool of resources for any set of accounts incredibly fast. This allows us to maintain consistent performance across shared hosting plans, since we have the flexibility to respond fast to any new resource demands.
Ordinary web hosts need to worry about “overselling” – the practice of hosting too many accounts on a single shared resource pool. Too many, and everyone slows down. Too few, and you’re not maximizing revenue from the resources. But cloud hosting allows NameHero to be less bound by such paradigms. While the problem of overutilization still exists, NameHero has a stronger set of tools to deal with the problem. There’s no dedicated server hosting several shared hosting accounts. Instead, the overall pool can grow and contract as necessary.
What ISN’T Cloud Hosting?
I’ve seen some misconceptions about cloud hosting where people confuse it with a CDN. They think that the “cloud” means that your website is spread out across several geographic locations, and that customers will receive fast ping times no matter where in the world they are. While such a technology is enviable, it simply doesn’t exist sustainably at the moment. You still need a CDN with cloud hosting to ensure that your static files load quickly.
So before you decide on a web host that offers “cloud hosting”, make sure you know exactly what it is they’re offering. It might not be what you think it is!
I’m a NameHero team member, and an expert on WordPress and web hosting. I’ve been in this industry since 2008. I’ve also developed apps on Android and have written extensive tutorials on managing Linux servers. You can contact me on my website WP-Tweaks.com!