Cloud hosting is a type of web hosting that entails multiple different physical servers instead of a single server. In other words, a cluster of servers work in tandem to offer hosting services, and this cluster is referred to as “the cloud”. The cluster functions as one big powerful server. Website information (including images, HTML/CSS files, etc.) gets spread out over this cluster.
The different servers are designated a specific kind of task and when one or more of the servers fail, the other servers in the cloud serve as back-up. This ensures ongoing web hosting service availability. The servers are located in different locations in different data centers and are connected via a network, usually the Internet. There’s no limit to how many physical servers a cluster may have. Even 5 to 10 servers can be used to build cloud hosting infrastructure.
There are several benefits to cloud hosting:
As the resources needed to maintain a site on cloud hosting are spread across multiple servers, it’s almost impossible for a site to go down even if a particular server fails. The same backup methodology also kicks in when a site’s traffic numbers suddenly peak. This also means zero single point of failure.
The cloud hosting infrastructure secures information at different levels. It isolates data and segregates storage, offers backup recoveries and firewalls, etc. As far as physical security is concerned, the underlying servers are housed in data centers, which are monitored round-the-clock and have all necessary security measures in place such as security cameras and ID card scanners.
The increased hosting requirements (more RAM, storage, bandwidth, etc.) can be handled real-time since the cloud environment negates physical server constraints and it literally has a bank of resources yet to be used. In other words, the number of servers needed can be reduced or expanded within seconds anytime.
Though there are a host of physical servers at play, the user only pays for the resources used. This means websites that consume moderate resources would pay less and still benefit from the robust and extremely secure cloud hosting environment. That said, cloud hosting plans are also available for fixed monthly charges. In the long run, especially keeping the aspect of scalability in mind, cloud hosting is much cheaper than devoted physical server plans.
As far as negatives are concerned, all the drawbacks that apply to other types of web hosting apply to cloud hosting too. Those include security issues, possible downtime, customer support problems, accessibility, vulnerability to hacking, etc. In case the hosting plan is not a fixed fee arrangement, the plan could turn out more expensive than expectations. This is because keeping track of the resources a website or hosting account uses is not easy.