Posted on: July 12, 2011
Battle of The Servers: Cloud vs. Dedicated
Posted by: Brett Bisbe
Read time (comprehensive): 8 minutes
As the Internet expands and new technologies develop (as they always do), there must be a debate over new versus old; whether a new technology is too unreliable, or an old technology is too archaic. Presently, that very argument is taking place regarding hosting technology. The two sides of this arguments? The cloud vs. the physical, dedicated server.
Dedicated servers are just that, dedicated. It’s really one of the primary advantages of using physical server equipment to host your website – the equipment is specialized and customizable. You (or an expert) can build the server you want, with your choice of operating system and exact specifications. For certain hosting needs, dedicating a lightning fast server to a singular project is the most effective way to host.
Purchasing this kind of equipment can be quite costly, however. Because of the costs associated with purchasing physical server equipment, most lease a server from a hosting company. When leasing, you still get a dedicated, physical server at your disposal, but maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting become part of the service you purchase, instead of your own (major) responsibility.
The trouble with dedicated servers comes with change. Leasing a server with a certain amount of RAM or bandwidth may not stand up to the increasing speed and sophistication of modern web development. A dedicated server is “stuck in its ways” so to speak, without physical upgrades. A sudden influx of traffic could potentially go beyond what your dedicated server is capable of handling.
This problem has been resolved, in theory, with the advent of cloud-based hosting. Instead of a singular, static system, cloud computing is amorphous, directing necessary resources to the areas that need them most. Like leasing a physical server, purchasing hosting services with a cloud-based server takes the technical maintenance out of the customers’ hands. The difference lies in scalability.
The “cloud” may be made up of thousands of physical servers, and within that cloud are hundreds (or more) hosted websites, each individually owned and operated. Depending on the traffic or necessary bandwidth, the cloud server is capable of allocating resources accordingly.
While this technology is gaining popularity, it isn’t without flaws. Some complain that making sites essentially compete for the cloud’s resources is slowing the whole process. Part of the problem of steadily increasing popularity is the wave of new users vying for the same service.
Security remains an issue for some, feeling understandable hesitation about uploading their data into a massive system on some far away network of servers and other hosted content. There have even been some security scares in the media.
At the end of the day, choosing a hosting service has to be based on what’s right for the material you wish to host. As a small site looking to grow, cloud hosting may be just right. Maintaining a massive database or company brain may just be a little too intensive for present-day cloud technology, and a high-speed, dedicated server might be the ticket.
The one thing that we can rely on is that the technology will continue to develop.