What Is Cloud Hosting

5 days ago
What is Cloud Hosting ? No really: what IS cloud hosting? Looking for a real answer? Your web host won't tell you—or might not know how. But we do.

English subtitle

Earlier this year, we changed hosting companies
for the first time in thirteen years. I wrote
about that change here, and pointed out how
boring a topic web hosting is.
But it's important. So much so, we're getting
ready to launch a whole new kind of web hosting
at Better Website Hosting. You can get in
on the Better Website Hosting beta program
by clicking that link, by the way.
In fact, we're so serious about Better Website
Hosting that if you open the story I mentioned
at the top of this article and scroll to the
bottom we'll give you free hosting. Seriously.
And that hosting will happen in "the cloud".
At least, it will .. to you. Bringing us
to the point of this story; What is Cloud
Hosting?
We almost can't tell you. In fact, the reason
we switched hosts this year was that our longtime
provider couldn't tell us. We KNEW the answer,
but literally, the company we'd bought hosting
from for thirteen years couldn't differentiate
between their cloud hosting and other products
they sold.
Sounds impossible, right? A hosting provider
unable to tell you what cloud hosting is makes
no sense—even when you think about how odd
an idea cloud hosting is.
So when our new host published this article
a few weeks ago, I was intrigued. Had they
explained anything, any better than our old
host?
It turns out not, although the article makes
a great marketing point: if you need extra
power, you'll get it automatically. Yes, you'll
pay, but at the end of a conversation on the
topic the real benefit of cloud hosting is
that you never "max out", no matter what.
Assuming, of course, that your cloud hosting
plan is actually cloud hosting and actually
set up well.
That last statement probably makes this a
more confusing subject than ever. So let me
say right now that Siteground sets up hosting
the right way (and that if you click through
to them from our links and buy services we
might get a commission). But let me also say
that the more you dig cloud hosting and the
way it's priced just keeps getting more confusing.
For example, if you buy cloud hosting from
Amazon or Google it can be incredibly inexpensive—but
probably won't be. And at many companies that
let you choose between cloud, dedicated, and
shared hosting plans, cloud hosting is pretty
cheap, but at Siteground it isn't.
So what is cloud hosting? is cloud hosting
a premium product, or more of a discount loss
leader?
What is Cloud Hosting?
Price and performance notwithstanding, the
best way to address "what is cloud hosting?"
is with a simple split.
Dedicated Hosting is when your website is
served from a machine that does nothing but
host your site
Shared Hosting is when your site is kept on
a computer that also hosts other sites
Cloud Hosting is when your site is not kept
on a single computer at all, but hosted across
several—or even several dozen or several
hundred—computers.
The issue isn't limited to websites, of course.
Services like Dropbox and Google Drive store
your things ... somewhere you can't identify.
I wrote about Owncloud a few years back—and
told you that it isn't really a cloud service
at all.
So what is cloud hosting? When your application
(yes, a website is an application) is hosted
in multiple places, you are cloud hosted.
That's why OwnCloud isn't a cloud application
at all, despite its name. And it's why describing
what being "in the cloud" means can get so
dicey. Everything is "in the cloud" once it
leaves your computer, but cloud hosting is
more than just being remote.
That's what cloud hosting is. But is cloud
hosting a good thing?
The "What Is Cloud Hosting?" Paradox
If it saves you money, cloud hosting is great.
If it makes your application faster, cloud
hosting is great. But if it complicates anything
you need to track, including costs or speed,
cloud hosting's value decreases. So with Siteground
charging a significant premium even though
it saves them money, cloud hosting becomes
a head-scratcher. Good idea? Bad idea? YES.
But mostly good. Paying more for something
better isn't a bad thing once you understand
the value equation. Better Website Hosting
is ... better. It's faster. It lessens your
administrative and security headaches. And
it's in the cloud, even if it isn't necessarily
"cloud hosting".
And that's the point. Someone has to manage
issues like the type of hosting you buy, but
it probably shouldn't be you.
Make sense?