Cloud Hosting Part 2:
Cloud Hosting and Cloud Computing differ because it involves sharing resources. Using the example from cloud hosting part 1 let’s say that you purchase a web server. Under that example you would have a CPU, Memory, and Hard drive. However, the cloud setup is a bit more complex. Instead of having a single hard drive or memory sticks in your server you may only have a CPU or none of these physical components. Instead your server has network relationships and it connects to a series of one or more powerful hardware devices. For your hard drive you will connect to a network storage device and it may have a total disk space size of 10TB. You or your hosting company then use virtualization software to assign your server 500GB of disk space out of the 10TB.
If this is done correctly it’s nearly impossible to detect. When you login to the server as the server administrator you will see that 500GB of disk space is available and it appears to be a regular hard drive. This makes it convenient if you start to run out of disk space. Instead of purchasing additional hard drives or going through painful upgrades – we simply toggle your settings and change the 500GB to 750GB. By making this simple change your server now has access to 750GB and no upgrades are required.
In my opinion this creates a few downsides to cloud hosting or computing. Upgrades are amazing, however you’re sharing the hardware. If you’re a single user with only a handful of VPS or cloud accounts it probably doesn’t matter. However, if you’re a host or a large corporate infrastructure this creates a single point of failure. In 2007 we acquired another hosting company and they used a NOC called Navisite. They attempted to implement a solution as outlined above and it was catastrophic to their clients. This single point of failure made hundreds of servers susceptible to downtime whenever their storage devices encountered problems. If you have 50 servers sharing one storage device and it fails all 50 servers go down. However, if these were 50 dedicated servers with their own physical hardware there’s no single component that could cause all of them to go down.
This method isn’t used for only hard drives as a cloud hosting solution can allow you to share CPU’s, memory and hard drives using the methods outlined above.
The greatest benefit is being able to easily upgrade your server by toggling on additional resources. This allows you to grow your infrastructure in a cost effective manner and you can easily add more hard drive space or memory as your website(s) grow.
In hosting we usually call this a VPS (Virtual Private Server).