I Use Virtual Server Hosting… I’m In The Cloud, Right?

So often — too often — the terms “VPS” and “cloud hosting” get used synonymously. A cloud host can offer virtual private servers (VPS), but owning a VPS does not mean the company gets cloud hosting. Confused? The difference is important for business and is as follows.

Virtual Private Servers

I Use Virtual Server Hosting… I’m In The Cloud, Right?VPS emulates a dedicated server instead of hosting on one physical server. The VPS is sandboxed from other VPS customers on the same physical machine. But unlike shared hosting, VPS offers a way for businesses to control the way its server functions. For instance, web services typically need customized settings on the server. With shared hosting, the host rarely changes configurations for one customer, especially if it might affect any other sites hosted on the same server. All sites share the same resources, so web hosts keep shared servers standard across the board.

VPS eliminates the problem of one site affecting another, so the business is given complete control over the server interface. If the business crashes its VPS, it does not affect any other customers’ VPS services.

VPS has several additional advantages over shared hosting, even if it’s not true cloud hosting. First, VPS gives the webmaster better control over server functionality, configurations and added software. If the business has licenses for software such as SQL Server, the webmaster can install the software without going through the cloud host provider. If the webmaster needs to add some Windows server functionality, log in to the console and change the settings. The webmaster can even reboot the machine at-will and won’t affect other customers.

Cloud Hosting

Although cloud hosting has some similarities to basic shared hosting, it’s more powerful and gives businesses a way to serve millions of web requests without ever harming performance. Cloud hosting also offers the power of data centers and content delivery networks. Combined, these resources have a more powerful backend for enterprise businesses with big data and software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps.

Cloud hosting also offers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). IaaS is a service for businesses that need more server resources, storage devices, hardware or networking components. This cloud service is generally used when the business needs more resources but doesn’t have the real estate or IT personnel to handle massive additions to the network.

VPS Versus Cloud Hosting

VPS is a more expensive route than shared hosting, but it offers a dedicated server environment without the dedicated server costs. Small businesses and individual site owners get the most benefits from VPS. VPS is more personalized, and the webmaster can host several sites on the same virtual interface. Bloggers with high traffic spikes, small ecommerce stores or businesses with several websites can take advantage of VPS.

Cloud hosting is beneficial when the business needs more power. The business only pays for the resources used, but it’s generally more expensive because of the large data centers and web farms available. Load balancers control traffic to the business’ website, so the website never falters. Cloud hosting offers 100% uptime, so businesses that rely on website revenue at all hours of the day benefit from cloud hosting.

IaaS and SaaS are also cloud-hosted benefits. Small web services can run on VPS, but VPS is still one server, so it cannot handle the massive amounts of traffic that cloud hosting can manage. VPS is a solution for small businesses or personal websites, but when the business depends on performance, cloud hosting is a solution that has endless scalable resources.

This is a guest post by Jennifer Marsh. Jennifer is a software developer, programmer and technology writer and occasionally blogs for open cloud company Rackspace Hosting.