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Cloud, VPS, Dedicated – Oh My!   1 comment

Mar 27, 2012 @ 11:27am turnkey cloud

The Cloud, and Cloud hosted applications are all the buzz today. Businesses are converting IT infrastructure into the Cloud every day – phone systems, virtual desktops, office servers, and lots more. But when your business is making that transition to The Cloud, why are there there so many options that look the same but with different names like “Cloud Hosting”, “Virtual Servers”, “VPS”, “Dedicated Servers”? Which is the best option for you business – and what is the difference?

First, the term “The Cloud” is among the most popular terms on the Internet today, but lacks an agreed upon firm universal definition. The Cloud is IT on Demand. The cloud is a scalable, reliable and cost-effective way of accessing information technology at any time from anywhere. The technology of the cloud revolves around the benefits of moving expensive and complicated IT out of your office into an efficient, scalable, and secure datacenter. So if you are looking to move your office server into “The Cloud”, you are looking to host the office server in a secure datacenter, and use the Internet to connect to it from any where, any time.

A Virtual Server (also called a Virtual Private Server, VPS, Virtual Machine, VDS, Semi-Dedicated, or Hybrid server) is the term used for the computer server and software that runs on the same physical computer server as other virtual servers and is functionally equivalent to a separate physical computer dedicated to the individual customer’s needs. A single high capacity server in a datacenter can host 10 or more Virtual Private Servers – such that each client has their own privacy, computer resources, customizable operating system and software. The virtual server model is a more power and cost efficient method and provides an easier to manage and generally more reliable computer server infrastructure than say hosting the same application on a typical server in your office.

A dedicated server has all the same benefits of the Virtual Server for privacy, and custom software, but costs more since you have all the resources dedicated to just you (even when the system is idle, its using up electricity, so your costs and efficiency aren’t as optimal compared to a virtual server). But the dedicated server does offer a high level of performance, and for a busy application (say a phone system that connects 500 employees across 3 regions of the country) you will find the dedicated server is your best value when you need the maximum level of computing power.

Cloud Hosting can mean just about any type of hosted solution in a secure datacenter. The more advanced Cloud Hosted solutions providers are offering a robust scalable network of servers that can provide redundancy and scalability that otherwise is not present in a single virtual server or dedicated server. You have to be careful when you shop vendors who use the term “Cloud Hosting” to promote using the Cloud to host your application or server. What you generally want is cloud hosting solution which offers you a ‘virtual machine’ in the cloud providers network, that offers some level of scalability, and redundancy. Some Cloud Hosted solutions providers focus on you developing a specific application and hosting just that application (not an entire server or operating system) on their cloud – this is a bit more complex and ideal for developers. For instance Amazon EC2’s web site states “Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.” SalesForce’s offering in the cloud called lets savvy businesses and developers write applications to run on their cloud platform, utilizing their proprietary system to gain scalability and redundancy.

TurnKey’s offering, TurnKey Cloud offers a full virtual machine ontop of multiple redundant clusters of servers which provides the cloud benefits of scalability and redundancy to let you install any operating system and any applications without having to utilize software developers to convert their applications to a proprietary cloud platform. If it runs on the server in your office, it will run in the TurnKey Cloud platform.

So what’s different between Cloud Hosting, versus a VPS or a Dedicated Server? The reality is they all do about the same thing but vary based on price, ease of use, performance and the ability to offer scalability and redundancy. Some hosting companies sell a non-scalable non-redundant VPS and call it a Cloud Hosting solution because its hosted over the Internet, and it looks attractive due to the lower cost. Companies like TurnKey, Amazon, SalesForce offer a true Cloud Hosting solution with scalabiltiy and redundancy included. So you have to look closely at the infrastructure utilized by your ‘cloud hosting’ solutions provider.

A VPS will be your lowest cost – easiest to use, option in most cases. If you need a lot of computing power, or resources (disk, network bandwidth, etc) – your costs can go double or more very quickly. The down side is your VPS resides on a ‘shared’ resource (that dedicated server that is split up between 10 or more other VPS clients). So there can be times when you have trouble getting all the performance you may need, and scalability is limited (you may be able to increase ram or bandwidth double or more from your initial machine, but costs shoot up quickly as you do so). But the VPS is easy to manage, you don’t have to worry about hardware generally since the server that your VPS is housed on will typically be a very high end server with built in redundancy. But it is still a single point of failure, which can have several hours of down time should your provider have to do maintenance.

A Dedicated server will actually be your best performer, and best value if you have a highly demanding application that needs a lot of computing power. You can have access to 24 or more cpu processors, and 128+ GB of ram if your budget allows – and it’s a lot cheaper than getting the same computing power versus a Cloud based Server. The downside is the single point of failure, and additional administrative efforts needed to maintain a dedicated server. Make sure you selected a dedicated server from your provider that includes management, backups, and guaranteed response times if something goes wrong.

A Cloud Server (Cloud hosted solution) – is going to give you best of all worlds – but at a price. You get the simplicity of a virtual machine to administer it. You get the ability to scale to very high capacity (even speeds faster than your average dedicated server), and you can even replicate to multiple servers and utilize load balancing for literally infinite scalability. The built in redundancy offers protection from single point of failure on hardware (since a cloud based server if the hardware fails, should auto restart on another node within a few seconds, picking up right where it left off) – but all this does come at a higher price. Typically 2x to 4x the cost of a traditional VPS, and if you need a lot of computer power, disk space, or bandwidth you really are going to pay a lot more for the privilege to have that level of redundancy and ability to scale on demand

So what works best for your business? Give your Service Provider a call – tell them what your application is, and your needs, and concerns – and they will help you choose the best one. At the end of the day, all 3 get you ‘in the cloud’.

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Written by Adam on March 27th, 2012

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One Response to 'Cloud, VPS, Dedicated – Oh My!'

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