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Cloud Hosting vs. Dedicated Hosting

A primer, by guest writer Charles Homes, on how choosing the right hosting plan can significantly impact your business.

image There are quite a variety of hosting plans for businesses to pick from, with the “best choice” being entirely dependent on how your business is set up.

When it comes to companies who perform the vast majority – if not the entirety – of their business online, there are two main alternatives to investing in, and setting up, in-house servers.

For businesses that are already well established and stable, dedicated hosting would likely be the choice that makes more sense. However, for newer companies that are still in the process of starting up, cloud hosting is the better choice.

Let’s take a good look at the differences between these two kinds of hosting, and the reasons your online business should rely on either one, or the other.

Cloud Hosting

Essentially, if you are a start-up that (1) relies heavily on its web-based technology, (2) currently lacks the resources necessary to invest heavily in on-site hosting, but (3) plans to undergo quite a few significant growth spurts in the very near future, then your business would benefit greatly from cloud hosting.

Since your business is primarily web-based, you really cannot afford to experience a significant amount of down-time, but at the same time you have the need to be very frugal with your funds since, as a start-up, you can’t really afford to invest too much in one area when such funds could be better invested elsewhere.

Cloud hosting is a very flexible option, allowing you to adjust your hosting plan quickly and easily in response to your changing needs. This kind of hosting lets a business rent a virtual server, which can be scaled as the need arises.

Many cloud hosting providers also grant you the choice of which operating system to use (Windows or Linux), will provide you the self-service flexibility offered through dedicated hosting, flexible billing, and an API or web-based interface, to configure your server on the fly.

Overall, your business can save money by only paying for what you need when you need it, while at the same time benefiting from a reliable, stable hosting plan. That kind of scalability is ideal for a start-up web-based company that does not have the resources or need to commit to something as comprehensive as a dedicated hosting package.

Granted, this all means that your IT department will likely have to be spending a great deal of its time managing your server configuration. With your traffic and userbase always in a state of flux, your server’s configuration will not remain static. Then again, your techs would likely be busy doing that anyway.

Dedicated Hosting

Dedicated hosting works in an entirely different way. Whereas with cloud hosting you are only buying part of a server’s space (and possibly sharing that server with other businesses), with a dedicated hosting plan a company leases one or more servers and has complete control over that (or those) server(s).

A dedicated hosting plan has three distinct advantages. Firstly, a dedicated sever is located in a secure and stable data center, meaning that your business does not have to spend anything in investing in any hardware or infrastructure (such as redundant power systems), or the additional space that is needed when you have your servers on-site.

Secondly, a dedicated hosting plan means that the server in question is completely dedicated to your business’s applications, websites, and platforms. Unlike shared hosting, your company’s websites, et cetera, enjoys the full and complete power and bandwidth of the servers they are hosted on, and nothing should affect those servers’ performances (such as load times), unless you choose to let it.

Finally, with a dedicated hosting plan, your IT department has full reign and is able to fully customize server performance to perfectly suit the needs of your business.

So, who is dedicated hosting right for? The answer is, essentially, large and stable business which relies very heavily on its online presence (and therefore its hosting) to survive and make money.

If your business fits that description, then this is likely the kind of hosting that you are looking for. As a web-based company cannot do business without having a strong online presence, it needs its sites and applications to run smoothly so your customers and access them at any time and buy that company’s products or services.

An example of such a company is a large online retailer, which manages a significantly large inventory through a custom CMS. A retailer like that would be processing thousands of queries a minute, which means that every minute lost to downtime, could mean losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.

Another example is, an online advertising network. Such a business would have an ad platform consisting of hundreds or thousands of ad campaigns, spread across thousands of domains for dozens of advertisers. If that business were to experience downtime and those banners would not render, clients would not have to pay them, and publishers, and if seeing this as a recurring event, would stop working with them. Therefore, maximum bandwidth and up-time is essential to the survival of that business.

Choosing a Business Hosting Provider

After deciding which kind of hosting is best for your business, the next step, choosing the right provider, can be very tricky. After all, while some hosting providers may excel at providing cloud hosting services, their dedicated hosting plans may not be that great or vice versa.

Start by looking for reviews that address how the provider handles the specific kind of hosting your looking for, not just about the provider in general. After you have a list, involve your IT team in the decision making progress. They are the ones that will be configuring your servers, so they’re in the best position to accurately evaluate a potential host’s technology and help you make the decision that’s best for your company.

Article by Charles Homes who is a consultant at Hosting.com, for more info check out their Dedicated Server Hosting.

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