Is Cloud the most abused word in the hosting business? You bet!

Who wants a jump on the “cloud” bandwagon?  Everyone it seems, but few people actually know what it is or the real benefits that it provides. Cloud is often a term used by IT techs, but even the average Joe Blow next door with a website may have some familiarity with the term.  In this post we will examine what cloud means (to stop further abuse of the word) and how it’s being used in hosting. 

What is Cloud Really?

Most people who use the net regularly have run across the term “cloud”, but does anyone really understand what this term signifies?  Some think that cloud is only applicable to software, others are familiar with it in terms of platforms and others with infrastructure. The truth is–cloud incorporates all three. To eliminate further confusion, here is the general definition of the term:

Cloud computing – Wikipedia defines cloud computing as the use of computing resources both hardware and software, delivered as a service over the Internet.

The actual “cloud” in the term cloud computing is derived from the typical drawing of a cloud often used to explaining how the system works.

Cloud Computing Image courtesy wikipedia.org

How Cloud Works?

As you can see by the above the illustration, the actual “cloud” contains networks, hardware, storage, various services and interfaces.  All of these items combine with one another to deliver software, storage and infrastructure over the net.  This information is delivered to the devices surrounding the cloud, which include smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops and servers.

The three cloud computing models are Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service.

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – IT organizations normally use this model to deliver their business solutions.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS) – with this model, the service provider is the host of the software so there’s nothing for the user to install, buy or manage.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) – developers use this model to construct applications on top of the compute infrastructure using black box services.

The average user of cloud doesn’t need to understand how cloud works, but they are aware that they are using it. Cloud can be offered as public cloud, private cloud or public and private together called hybrid cloud.

How Cloud is Used in the Hosting Business

When cloud is referred to in web hosting it takes on a slightly different meaning.  Cloud hosting often uses resources from more than one server. This method is used to balance the load of your site by distributing it among a cluster of servers.  In web hosting, the cloud is made up by the cluster of servers.

Most site owners could benefit from the security and availability of hardware resources that cloud web hosting provides.  However, sites that have a lot of traffic would benefit the most.  This is because cloud web hosting would minimize the risk of a site overloading its server due to a surge in use.

Most websites are still hosted on a shared hosting server, which (in it’s simplest form) relies on the services from a single physical server. With cloud web hosting you site will often be clustered amongst multiple servers.  If your site suddenly becomes busy, more servers are available to take the load and when they aren’t needed they can be switched off.

This mode is generally not available on a shared hosting server. Although most shared servers are powerful enough to handle a lot of traffic, high traffic to one site may be detrimental to all the other sites on the server. Cloud web hosting eliminates that by simply providing more servers when they’re needed, without impacting others.

Now that you understand the basics of cloud and the benefits of cloud in web hosting, you can throw the term around merrily in your next conversation with confidence. You may also consider using cloud as a hosting option.

Related posts:

  1. Cloud Hosting 101: Beyond the Cloud, and Beyond the Hype
  2. VPS Hosting: Why It IS and ISN’T the Same as Cloud Hosting
  3. Computing as a Service: Crunching Data in the Cloud
  4. Self-Service Virtualization in the Cloud
  5. Spreading the word with Podcast Hosting