As you may have already noticed, cloud hosting is currently the hot topic on the Internet on any web master or developer forums. Almost all of the biggest hosting providers have either completely switched to cloud hosting (like MediaTemple) or have at least started selling cloud virtual server packages.
But, for millions of people who have a website or want to launch one, the question still stands, is cloud hosting really better, is it worth choosing over traditional (and cheaper) shared hosting and dedicated servers?
Well, the short answer would be “Yes”, but not everything is that simple and there are a few things to consider when it comes to cloud hosting.
First of all, it’s still a new technology. Just a few years ago, it wasn’t even available on the general market. As all new technologies, this one also has its problems and drawbacks, which unfortunately directly affect the user.
For example, cloud hosting is still not secure enough against the most common threats from hackers and other unscrupulous people online. The cloud model adds a lot more layers to the hosting infrastructure, most of which are software-based. The big virtual machine that controls all of the virtual servers and user accounts inside it is software-based most of the times, and that means it has bugs that can be used to break it.
If you remember, back when VPS was new and just being released, there were a few loud cases of hackers breaking into the physical machine and gaining access to the whole thing. That’s about 10 to 20 user accounts on today’s powerful machines. As you can imagine, the damage would be much bigger if they manage to break into a cloud server.
The stability of a cloud server nowadays is also pretty shaky. A lot of people are reporting their data going missing, their sites being offline or their whole virtual server being restarted, shut down or even worse, being completely wiped. That’s simply not acceptable for any kind of serious application.
Then there’s the price. Yes, in the long run, cloud hosting is cheaper, but not for those who sign up early on. If you want to be on the cutting edge, you should know that you will most definitely pay more than those who get into the game later on. That’s because of a simple thing called contracts: every hosting company has them, and the prices are shown clearly on the paper.
So, if you sign up now and agree to pay $1 per hour of processing time, for example, you’ll still be paying the same $1 in2 years, when the normal price could be $0.55. Of course, you can redo the contract, but a lot of providers simply make you close your current account and open a new one, which will make the move pretty hard.
The above issues are not everything that is negative about cloud hosting nowadays, but they are the most important points. There are other problems, but they pale in comparison.
If you like to be on the cutting edge and plan on using your new virtual server on the cloud for development purposes, then it should be OK for you to switch or get a new cloud hosting package. But if you have a serious business that relies on good hosting to operate, you might want to wait a little. In just 1-2 years, the situation will stabilize and the bugs will be ironed out, which is definitely worth a bit of wait time. But if you need to move now (due to lack of processing power), you’d be better off with a good old powerful dedicated server or a cluster of them.
Interesting article. Some of your points are very valid, however I would like to point out that none of (mt) Media Temple’s servers are on cloud architecture.
While “cloud hosting” may be considered newer technology, we’ve had the (gs) as part of our system for about 4 years. In that sense, the technology is not very new, nor is an understanding of its architecture and security flaws.
The (gs) Grid-Service is not in the cloud, it is a grid infrastructure. Your point about hacking effecting all users on the cloud server is a concern with any type of shared setting- be it cloud, grid, etc. As for us at (mt), constantly working to keep our servers secure. For example, we have restricted permissions with access control lists so that one customer’s account cannot infect others on the same system. Additionally, we turn open_basedir off by default for security.
Our (dv) Dedicated-Virtual and (ve) Servers are not in the cloud. They are self managed, dedicated VPS machines.
We also don’t have utility billing (re: $1/hour processing time). Our billing is per month or year, with possible add-ons and overage charges.
Keep up the research and informative posts. We just wanted to clear up some information regarding our services in particular. 🙂
Thanks a lot for your valuable Comments!