Cloud web hosting is gradually becoming one of the most popular forms of web hosting available, with the idea being that web hosting providers will eventually be able to offer a majority of their hosting services within the context of a cloud environment. Shared hosting is probably the most established type of web hosting available, providing users of all levels with an affordable platform that provides generous resource assignments and historically has always offered very good value for money. Web hosting providers are now beginning to offer shared cloud hosting plans with which you are provided much the same features as a shared web hosting plan, with the difference being in the environment that you are hosted in; for the time being these web hosting plans are going to be more expensive than a typical shared web hosting plan, but they are able to offer multiple benefits that justify the cost for businesses and developers alike. The main difference between the two is the uptime that can be had from using either; a majority of cloud-based solutions are engineered to offer up to 100% guaranteed uptime, whilst the single-server configuration of a standard shared web hosting environment is never going to be as reliable as a cloud environment and so you should never come to expect too much in this area. There are also additional benefits of selecting cloud web hosting, although it should be taken on board that for the most part there won’t be any additions in terms of features as the ideal that web hosting providers are trying to achieve is a more reliable incarnation of shared hosting.
So, how do the two compare in terms of price?
With cloud hosting still in its infancy, the cost of a cloud hosting solution of any type is always going to be the more expensive option for the time being; this is likely to change as mass adoption gains pace, allowing web hosting providers to fit more clients in a single cloud environment and this will translate into lower prices for end-users. Shared web hosting plans have proven to be very popular because of their low price points – it is this pricing structure that has allowed beginners to engage with web hosting for the first time so that pretty much anyone can now setup their own website, granted they know HTML and a couple of other web developer languages.
With the transfer of shared web hosting to the cloud environment, it is hoped that web hosting companies will be able to recreate the affordability of a standard shared web hosting plan with the cloud environment eventually; with the masses of hardware used to form the cloud, this shouldn’t be an issue as it will be easy to make the most of what is on offer whilst discounts from suppliers should also be easy to obtain. There is always the option to choose a web hosting provider that can offer you the facility to develop a web hosting plan based around your own specific needs – this kind of dynamic scalability is hard to come by at the moment, but as a feature it has proved to be a big hit so far.
What if I require additional resources?
If you require additional resources then this is where you will begin to benefit from the cloud. A number of hosting companies are beginning to introduce a pay-as-you-go pricing structure; roughly translated this means that you will have the option to only pay for the resources that you are using and nothing more, an ideal option for smaller and medium sized businesses that may be looking to control their spending in certain areas. By providing you with the facility to specify the resources that you want, your hosting environment is then configured with these and can then be altered as you wish to remove certain resources or to expand your web hosting account.
Unfortunately you aren’t provided with an equal level of flexibility with a standard shared web hosting plan, rather you are usually advised to upgrade your entire web hosting account when your existing resource allocations become too limiting to your activities. This can result in you having to pay for resources that you may not necessarily need and so probably won’t use, proving that a standard shared web hosting account doesn’t always offer good value for money and isn’t always the most economical option available.
Which option is going to offer me the highest level of uptime?
Cloud hosting services are made up of a number of different servers, with the data being evenly distributed across the cloud; this configuration coupled with a secure network and SAN (Storage Area Network) allows web hosting providers to guarantee uptime levels of up to 100%. As a business with an online presence you are going to be able to appreciate this level of uptime the most because you are going to know better than any other hosting customer the effects that downtime can have on a business. This uptime guarantee is often accompanied by an SLA (Service Level Agreement) which sets out what you are entitled to if this promise isn’t met – this will also give you some idea as to the level of service that you can expect from your web hosting company overall.
The single-server configuration of a majority of standard shared web hosting environments means that uptime can never be guaranteed to a great extent. As there is no failover plan, if the server crashes then all websites that it hosts will become unavailable. With the number of websites hosted in such an environment usually being in the hundreds, it is also impossible for web hosting providers to offer any guarantees on security either.
In conclusion, cloud web hosting is becoming the preferred option of businesses that rely on their websites to provide them with a certain level of income. Although shared web hosting plans have done well as serving beginners, a more reliable option is wanted by those looking for low cost hosting that can be used to serve an important website.