It’s sometimes difficult for managers and owners to make technical decisions, since in many cases the arguments for all of the options will seem sound and convincing to non-technical ears.
And one of the most important but often-confusing decisions that companies face is where and how to host their websites and Internet operations. The key question is likely to come down to a choice between a dedicated server or cloud hosting; proponents of each will claim that their preferred solution is faster, less expensive and more secure. Traditional IT types will insist that traditional dedicated hosting is the best option, while others may insist that “everyone’s on the cloud and we should be there too.”
How do you decide? Well, you could take our word for it: for most companies, a dedicated server is a better choice. Here are the five reasons why, along with a look at why cloud servers fall short in the majority of cases.
- Better Performance
To put it simply, the most efficient way to handle web operations which are CPU-intensive is with a server fully dedicated to those operations. There are other considerations, too. As you undoubtedly know, a major drawback to shared hosting solutions is that a number of clients are all drawing from the same pool of resources. With a dedicated server you don’t have to share, and your website performance can’t be affected by someone else’s surge of traffic.
Cloud hosting proponents will tell you that there are more than enough resources “on the cloud” to accommodate everyone, so sharing is actually a pro rather than a con. That’s not really the case, though, since cloud hosting is really just a number of virtual servers sharing storage and network resources. Unusual loads on the cloud network can greatly affect the speed of data I/O and upstream delivery, and slow the performance of all sites on the network. And there’s no comparison, when it comes to performing resource-intensive tasks.
Most businesses with successful Internet operations need their server to be able to handle large amounts of traffic on a continuous basis. With a dedicated server, you pay a monthly fee for the resources you know you’ll need; there’s cost-certainty at a reasonable price.
With cloud hosting, you normally pay for the resources you use on an hourly basis. That may seem cheaper at first (as cloud providers will tell you), but then the meter starts ticking. Running a big sale or a promotional video goes viral? Be prepared for your hosting costs to go through the roof. Cloud hosting may make sense for smaller businesses, but many of those will be served just as well with a VPS.
Which do you think would be more secure, a locked-down and constantly-monitored dedicated server, or a virtual server that’s constantly interfacing with many other computers in a cloud environment while writing to and retrieving data from machines elsewhere in the data center or elsewhere in the world? And which do you think would be more susceptible to malware or viruses, a single machine with strong protection, or a network of dozens or hundreds of machines?
This may be more of an issue for the technicians at the hosting company, but even if you have server administration included in your dedicated server package price, you know increased time spent troubleshooting will eventually be reflected in the prices you pay.
Here’s one unavoidable rule of computers: hardware sometimes fails. Here’s another one: networks sometimes have issues. When your server starts having problems, which do you think is easier to troubleshoot and fix: a single dedicated computer or a network with those dozens or hundreds of machines?
Right again. Cloud server providers often “solve” the problem by just switching nodes, but the actual problem isn’t fixed. It can be, usually easily, on a dedicated box.
- Hidden Commitments
Moving from one dedicated server provider to another is simple, because servers are basically all the same (or similar enough, for our purposes) and it’s easy to migrate between companies. Everything’s on your box and it can all be moved, often in minutes.
Many cloud hosting providers, though, provide advanced services like object-based storage as free or paid add-ons – and those services often aren’t compatible with those on other cloud hosts. If you base your business on them, you’re either stuck with your provider or stuck with the major cost of reworking applications so they’ll work on a new cloud provider.