Server hosting is an infrastructure delivery model that provides IT users with remote access to server resources (CPU, Memory, Disk, etc.) in order to power applications and store data without the hassle of buying, configuring and maintaining the server hardware themselves.
In this primer, I’ll cover the main benefits of this delivery model, detail the most common types of server hosting and touch on other frequently asked questions.
There are many benefits to server hosting, including, but not limited to, faster setup time, monthly payments instead of large capital expenditures, and ongoing upkeep so you can focus on your business as opposed to routine infrastructure maintenance.
1. Faster setup
The legacy process of ordering and shipping servers to your office or data center often takes weeks, if not months. In many cases, however, hosting providers can deploy, configure and make accessible servers for remote access within minutes of ordering. A reduction in deployment times means faster time to market for the businesses’ services..
2. Monthly payments
Server hosting allows you to avoid large capital expenditures for hardware that depreciates over time. Instead, you simply pay a monthly server hosting fee to access the resources remotely. The payments cover things like break-fixes and other important aspects of server hosting such as the space, power and cooling the server uses. The monthly payments also include bandwidth usage.
3. Ongoing upkeep
Server hosting also removes the burden of worrying about all the work that goes into just keeping servers up and running 24/7/365 — e.g. managing networks , power, cooling, security, hardware repairs,, software updates, etc. This gives IT users time to focus on projects that matter and not on the mundane task of keeping servers up and running.
There are many different types of server hosting delivery models that aim to help IT users and businesses achieve varying degrees of technical and financial results. Here are the most common:
Shared hosting is an inexpensive way to host simple, low traffic websites and blogs. Server resources are divided up into smaller shared hosting plans to give users an easy way to have a web presence. There can be hundreds or thousands of shared hosting accounts on a single server depending on how the hosting provider sets it up. Server resources are shared across all accounts.
VPS hosting is similar to shared hosting, but in this case server resources are dedicated to a particular account to minimize the risk of resource contention and degraded service for certain users. There are generally fewer VPS accounts on a single server than in shared hosting. As traffic and resource requirements grow, users tend to ‘graduate’ from shared hosting to VPS.
Dedicated Server Hosting
As the name suggests, dedicated server hosting provides the user with full access to all resources on single, dedicated server. There are no other customers on that server. There are many benefits to opting for dedicated server hosting such as full control over resources, enhanced security and root access. Dedicated server hosting is the next step up from VPS hosting, allowing customers to power mission-critical, resource-intensive applications.
Public Cloud Hosting
With the introduction of virtualization, public cloud hosting is most commonly associated with companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Compute Cloud. In the simplest terms, public cloud hosting provides on-demand, self-serve access to compute and storage resources over the internet in a multitenant environment. Using virtualization technologies like VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, KVM, and others, public cloud hosting provides a scalable, redundant way to architect large hosting environments that can be scaled up or down on the fly.
Private Cloud Hosting
Like dedicated hosting, private cloud hosting dedicates all the server resources within the private cloud to a single customer. Think of a private cloud as a bunch of dedicated servers that are virtualized to give a large pool of resources that can be managed as needed. Private cloud includes all the benefits of a public cloud, like redundancy and self-serve access, but without the shared attributes of a multi-tenant environment. Hosted private cloud provides inherent security benefits since it is single-tenant and also removes the risk of noisy neighbor issues.
Hybrid Cloud Hosting
When complex, distributed applications and data require use of more than one hosting deployment model, hybrid hosting enter the landscape. This could be combining dedicated server hosting with public cloud hosting, or private cloud with public cloud hosting. Hybrid is simply the use of more than one delivery model to achieve businesses infrastructure goals in the most performant and cost efficient way.
If you already own servers but need space, power and cooling to keep them up and running, colocation could be a good fit. Colocation offers greater perimeter security than most customers can achieve on their own, and is more reliable in terms of uptime since the data center provider should have strict requirements for power and cooling redundancy.
There are varying levels of security across all types of server hosting, be it shared, dedicated, public cloud or hybrid cloud.
In general, server hosting is going to be more secure than trying to maintain and secure a server or servers on your premises. This is because server hosting providers have taken rigorous steps to ensure security and multiple layers, starting with the physical building the servers reside in. Most data centers have strict access controls starting at the gate that surrounds the building all the way to the data center floor — armed guards, video surveillance, secure access controls and more.
Beyond this, there are steps that can be taken to further secure a hosted server environment all the way to the application layer.
Server hosting can start for as low as $1 per month for small shared hosting plans to as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars for hyperscale infrastructure environments. There is no one-size-fits-all hosting plan, as it all depends on the unique needs of the customer, the applications and workloads, and overall resource demand.