If your business is in the market for a new remote server in 2018, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want to host your data and applications on physical hardware or if you’d be just as well served with a virtual environment (which is potentially more flexible and cost-effective to boot). It’s an issue we’ve discussed before in the blog Cloud vs dedicated server hosting: What’s best for a small business?
Sounds like a simple enough decision - at least, that is, until a provider throws you a curveball and starts talking about VPS hosting in the same breath as dedicated and cloud server hosting. After all, isn’t a VPS (or virtual private server) a pretty apt description for a cloud server already? So why the lower price point - and which is the best option for your business?
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What is VPS hosting?
VPS hosting is a form of shared server hosting in which every customer has their own dedicated virtual machine on which to store data and host websites and applications. They have their own dedicated allocation of CPU, RAM and storage, their own dedicated OS and software, and the freedom to use their virtual machine as they would any other remote server.
Again, you’d be forgiven for thinking this sounds a lot like cloud server hosting. With VPS hosting, however, your virtual environment will always live on a specific physical server shared with other VPS hosting customers. As such, there’s necessarily a hard limit on the amount of resources the tenants can consume between them (because one machine can only have so much CPU, RAM and storage to go around), and a failure on the hardware or hypervisor layer will affect everyone.
What is cloud server hosting?
A true cloud environment, meanwhile, has no such limitations and no single point of failure. Instead, the hardware resources of multiple servers are pooled together in a cluster and made available to all the tenants within the cloud.
This means it’s much easier for customers to scale up if they need more powerful servers or more storage, because they don’t need to compete for the CPU, RAM and storage resources of a specific physical server. If the cloud environment as a whole starts to run out of resources, the provider can simply add more hosts and more storage devices to the cluster to support that growth.
It also means tenants are much better protected against downtime and disruption, because any virtual machines hosted on a server that fails will seamlessly - and automatically - be moved to another host and continue to function as normal.
All in all, it’s a more future-proof and more resilient option than VPS hosting, which - while still available from a number of providers - has steadily become less relevant as the cloud server hosting market has matured and the price of cloud infrastructure has decreased. VPS is still normally the cheaper option, but the price differential isn’t what it was a decade ago. For our part, we’d advise would-be customers to ask themselves: what would the extra scalability and availability mean for their business?