Cloud hosting is rolling out in full force right now, with most major hosting providers having already either switched completely to the new technology, or at least started offering packages that work on the cloud. A lot of new businesses and startups have opted to launch their work using the latest and greatest offer from the hosting world, and a lot of people are watching them with interest, wondering if they’ll be successful.
Everyone is talking about the current and future possibilities of this new technology, with most people agreeing that this one is in fact the major player of the future, unlike Virtual Private Servers and shared hosting before it. But is the cloud really living up to the hype?
Well, despite a few problems, which are usual business for any new technologies, especially in the software world, cloud servers have indeed delivered everything they promised they would.
The biggest two features that everyone likes and wants are low prices and unlimited scalability. And cloud hosting does indeed, provide both! Unlike the older hosting business models, where you paid a fixed price for a fixed amount of time and resources per month (and the price was always set higher than it needed to be in order to compensate for any losses), with a cloud hosting package, you pay only for what you use, when you use it. Of course, you can still opt for the old billing model if you want, but many developers and businesses think the new one is much better.
So, if your site usually uses 1 core, 1 GB of RAM and 10 GB of hard drive space, you pay only for them and it’s very cheap (about the same price as usual cheap VPS). But if you suddenly receive a ton of traffic from Digg, you can easily request 4 processor cores and 8GB of RAM, just until the traffic goes to lower levels. And you pay the fee only for the time you used those resources.
This is very, very important for many people and businesses, and would be impossible on a dedicated server, for example. You’d either have to lose visitors and money (if you use a cheap, slow sever) or pay a high fee every single month (for a high-end server). Now you can just scale your resources however you see fit.
In the future, hosting companies plan to implement an auto resource allocation system, which won’t need your constant monitoring and throttle the amount of resources up and down as needed. That will be amazing to see.
On the data center side, cloud hosting is also dramatically improving things by allowing more resources on less space and using less energy. Simply put, 1000 machines connected into a cloud and always loaded at about 100% can host more sites and serve more traffic than 5000 usual separate dedicated servers, while at the same time saving a lot of energy.
That’s because the 5000 servers are always loaded unevenly. Some may be overloaded, while some are idling, and there’s nothing the data center can do about it (even if they could, the contract says that the whole physical machine is allocated to the client).
If the cloud needs more processing power, then more machines or hardware can be added on the fly, without any interruptions to the clients, all thanks to the actual hosting environment being virtualized at a lower level.
So, yes, cloud hosting is living up to the hype and will definitely continue to get better. While now may not be the best time to switch (there are some issues, after all), you should definitely do it in a year or two.