What is Cloud Hosting?
Let’s first start by explaining what cloud computing is. It will put the beginning of our article which will answer the question what is cloud hosting. First of all, cloud computing recently became popular. Businesses and individuals use it today due to its advantages over standalone computing and the benefits it brings. Cloud computing is a process of sharing guaranteed systems resources in a farm of multiple servers. The resources are CPU, memory, disk space, network speed and others. That allows the cloud computing owner to utilize the systems resources in a more efficient way. As a result, it costs less. That is one of the biggest benefits of cloud computing. Cloud computing can bring alot of speed an reliability if we compare it to standalone servers. Applications will run quicker and total expenses will be lower.
What is Cloud Hosting?
Cloud hosting became popular in the last couple of years. Since then it is growing very rapidly and increasing its market share. Nowadays the biggest web hosting companies run everything under the cloud. It is more efficient, costs less and is easier to manage and support. In the hosting industry, cloud hosting relates to providing resources on demand. The end user pays for what they use and they can scale up and down whenever they wish. The end users or the customers understand cloud hosting differently. Except being able to provision resources on demand, customers think that reliability is built-in as a standard. That is not the case in reality. There are many cloud hosting providers offering cloud hosting without the reliability built-in. When the customer sees their first time on the cloud they are disappointed. In regards to provisioning resources on demand, that feature has always been available in any standard hosting platform. What was missing was the reliability. That is really the key and the difference between many cloud hosting platforms. If you are shopping for a cloud hosting service make sure to ask about reliability. You surely want to have that in order to get maximum uptime for your web site.
Public Cloud and Private Cloud
There are two types of clouds – public and private. The difference between them is just in their purpose. The public cloud is a service cloud hosting providers offer to provide web hosting services and systems resources to end users. Those users share one and the same cloud infrastructure. That is the reason to call it a public cloud.
The private cloud is an in-house cloud computing infrastructure. It serves only the company which owns the cloud. End users can’t use of the systems resources of such cloud computing farms. Private clouds are usually developed for bigger companies which require 100% security and reliability. Those are companies which can’t compromise the stability of their computing resources and risking a 3rd party to affect them.
What hardware and applications do we have in a cloud?
Each cloud computing cluster has these 4 important elements. There is no cloud system in the world which can function without them.
- Cloud control server
The cloud control server is a physical or virtual server which controls the processes that happen in the cloud. Such processes are the provisioning of a new cloud instance, the removal of a cloud VM (virtual machine), provisioning extra resources, monitoring, taking actions to load balance the hypervisors in the cloud. Basically, without a control server the cloud cannot be managed.
The computing instances in the cloud are the hypervisors. Those are the systems which provide CPU, memory and network resources to the cloud virtual servers. The resources of cloud servers can scale up to the resources of the most powerful hypervisor. That’s why hypervisors are usually dual or quad CPU servers with 256GB RAM or even more. Modern motherboards allow you to have 2TB memory per server. Additionally, using servers such as the Supermicro fat twin servers allow you to reach high resources density. That brings lots of power in less space and that’s why cloud is better and more efficient than traditional servers.
- Network equipment
No cloud can function without networking. In the most used case, we have 3 layers of networking happening in the cloud. Those layers can be isolated physically or virtually using VLAN’s. For physical isolation the cloud will need separate switches for each of the 3 networks. Those networks are the public network (internet connectivity), the storage network (delivering storage to the hypervisors) and the management network (controls the cloud operations such as deployments, resources provisioning). The public network could start from 1Gbps per hypervisor but for the storage network it is highly recommended to be as fast as possible. If it is slow storage operations will be slow as well and the performance of the cloud will not be good. Each cloud owner can choose from multiple options for the storage network. The choices vary from 10Gbps ethernet to infiniband. The difference in performance here will come from latency or how quick a single read or write operation can be performed. You may use the fastest SSD drives on your cloud storage systems but if the network is slow then you can’t utilize the performance of the SSD drives.
Cloud Hosting Redundancy
To achieve the highest level of redundancy in the cloud each cloud owner must ensure his cloud infrastructure is at least double-reserved. That means the cloud must have at least 2 control servers running in master-slave mode. If one of the control server fails the other will take over. You don’t want to have a single control server and risk to run into a situation where the control server and a hypervisor fail at the same time. In such a case, the VM’s running on the failed hypervisor will not be automatically migrated to another hypervisor. That will increase downtime. That’s why it’s best to have 2 control servers. The same applies to hypervisors and network switches. You must have enough resources such as CPU, RAM to migrate the VM’s from 1-2 hypervisors to other ones. Depending on how big your cloud cluster is, you must keep more or less hypervisors on stand-by mode or just ensure you have enough free resources in the whole cloud hosting farm. Each hypervisor must be connected to at least 2 switches. That is the minimum. They must be configured so that if one of them fails your cloud will continue to function without any downtime. Redundancy plays a big role if you want to achieve the highest possible uptime. ScalaHosting cloud hosting has everything reserved. Our storage systems, hypervisors and switches have dual power supplies and each hypervisor is connected to 4 switches.
Speed and reliability of public cloud hosting
Speed is usually an issue in many of the public clouds. The cause for that is always a slow storage. Due to the storage being shared in the cloud, some users can eat its resources and affect other users in the cloud. Usually, that happens when the cloud hosting provider uses slow drives – SATA or SAS. To get the best performance in cloud hosting environment the provider must be using SSD drives. They deliver up to 50 times better performance than regular HDD drives. You definitely want to have your web site hosted on an SSD cloud server. If you wonder why read why SSD is better. ScalaHosting uses enterprise SSD drives to deliver premium performance of its cloud servers. The ScalaHosting cloud is 100% SSD powered.
Benefits of Cloud Hosting
- Cloud hosting is more efficient than traditional hosting
It is more efficient because it allows the cloud hosting provider to have higher density of power/customers in their datacenter. That means less money for colocation space and less for support/management. It is also more efficient for the end user (customer) because it allows the client to increase/decrease systems resources 24/7 and pay for what they use. That’s why most customers prefer to get a cloud server instead of a traditional VPS. You can see the difference between them in the article SSD cloud server or a VPS server.
Cloud hosting allows the provider to setup and build redundancy. A traditional server has one motherboard and if it fails you will have hours of downtime. If that happens to a hypervisor on the cloud your cloud server will be migrated to another one and your server will be back up in a minute. Not having a single point of failure is a great advantage and a benefit of the cloud hosting service.
- Easy Upgrade and Growth
Your cloud servers can increase their resources quickly and easily. You don’t need to take them down and add more memory sticks or hard drives. As long as you have enough free resources on the hypervisor you can upgrade the cloud VM’s with minimum downtime.
- Fast deployment
With traditional servers just the OS install will take 15-20 minutes to complete. Cloud servers can be provisioned in minutes. That saves both time and resources. You can even automate the deployment of new servers whenever your resources utilization reaches a specific level. Cloud hosting is the next generation of hosting.
- Cloud hosting decreases the cost of management and support
By using powerful servers with 4 CPU’s and 80+ CPU cores per hypervisor, the cloud hosting providers get much better density in the datacenter. As a result they have to manage less servers and pay less for colocation and licenses. They will also have to pay less for staff which is the highest expense of a company. Cloud hosting allows the provider to automate most of the tasks removing the need of additional human power to do them manually. Cloud hosting saves money of the end users too. They pay for as much resources as they use. With a traditional server they have to pay for the full resources of the server. On a cloud server they can choose to have 3 cpu cores, 7GB RAM and 75Mbps network speed and pay for that only.
Disadvantages of Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting may have disadvantages if only it is not properly setup and configured. Below are the top 3 of the most common mistakes cloud hosting providers do. That results in lower performance in the cloud or no reliability.
- Using slow drives such as HDD or SAS.
- Missing redundancy on storage, hypervisor, network and power level.
- Using slow storage network equipment (anything less than 10Gbps is not good).
The Future Of Cloud Hosting
ScalaHosting as one of the cloud hosting providers has information about the trends in web hosting. Judging by that information I can say that cloud hosting will continue to increase its market share. By a couple of years all businesses and individuals will have their web sites hosted on cloud servers. The answer is pretty simple and it is in the lines above. Cloud hosting has just too many advantages over traditional hosting and it is a waste of money and energy not to utilize it for your business. Cloud hosting will save you money and will allow your business to grow smoothly. Many businesses haven’t done the move yet and that’s most likely due to financial issues. That’s going to be an issue for a big company because they will want to build a private cloud and the initial investment may be huge. For the small business owners the migration to the cloud can happen much easier though. ScalaHosting is running on its cloud computing cluster and activates all new shared and reseller hosting services onto its SSD cloud hosting platform.