The Ultimate Showdown: Cloud Hosting vs. Dedicated/Virtual Servers

January 30 2017, by Dean Forster | Category: Cloud Services

The easiest way to explain the difference between cloud hosting and dedicated or virtual servers is through the use of an analogy. Pretend that cloud hosting is like renting an apartment. Renting offers an affordable choice paid month to month, as well as the flexibility to move to a new city without needing to sell it.

But just because renting an apartment is great in some situations, it doesn’t mean that it’s the right choice for everyone all the time. You might be stuck with a wall colour you don’t like or a less than ideal layout. You might have noisy neighbours.

If you know you’re going to stay in one place for the foreseeable future, it suddenly starts to make a lot more sense to think about purchasing a house. Owning your own house (or server) means customisation. You can knock out those walls and create an open floor plan. You can install marble countertops. It’s yours. The same is true of dedicated servers – they offer predictable customisable performance that you aren’t sharing with others.

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The Breakdown of Dedicated Server Hosting

A dedicated server is just that – dedicated to you and your needs. It is the most traditional route for hosting and it brings a lot of advantages to the table. Dedicated servers offer better security, better performance, and full control of customisation and data management. The downside is that it is the most expensive option and your IT team needs to be willing to take on the task of managing it.

If these are the qualities that are most important to your business for your hosting needs, then a dedicated server might be the right solution for you:

  • Your stuff is your stuff. There’s no sharing with dedicated servers. It’s all yours.
  • Stable environment. Dedicated servers offer large databases and high performance computing that’s predictable and stable.
  • Beefed up security. This is imperative for businesses that handle sensitive information like financial documents or personal identity information.
  • In the long run, you might save money. ‘Pay as you go’ can be great for businesses with wildly variable computing needs, but if your needs stay stable, a dedicated server might actually save you money down the road.
  • Build it the way you want it. Dedicated servers mean one thing above all others: choice. You are in the driver’s seat. You can have a server that is tailored to your needs.

In a nutshell, dedicated servers are for companies that need powerful performance and want complete customisation and control over their hosting.

A Quick Note: Dedicated Server vs. Virtual Server

A virtual server is when a large server is technologically partitioned to create smaller, individual servers. This can be a great middle ground for companies that need more control than shared hosting can offer, but isn’t ready for the expense or power of a dedicated server. In our analogy, this would be like owning a condo. You still have the ease of building maintenance handling the landscaping, but you own your own space.

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The Breakdown of Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is often confused with virtual servers because they both rely on virtualisation and tend to offer the same benefits. Cloud hosting offers easy scalability – meaning no growing pains – and redundancy through automation. Cloud hosting is typically low to no commitment with services offered on a month-to-month basis.

If these are the qualities that are most important to your business for your hosting needs, then cloud hosting might be the right solution for you:

  • Grow at your pace. Cloud hosting makes it easy to adjust your bandwidth usage and scale up or down without any hassle.
  • Use virtual machines without hardware. If you need to crunch the numbers on large datasets, you can do that with cloud hosting without investing in expensive hardware (like rack space, power, cooling, physical security, and more).
  • Pay for what you use. Cloud hosting offers pricing system, which is perfect for companies with seasonal demands or other fluctuating data needs depending on the situation.
  • No hardware. Cloud hosting lets you use numerous virtual machines without the expense of buying and maintaining infrastructure.
  • Keeping up with the times. If you want to implement the latest and greatest technology trends – think BYOD, gamification, and more – you will need cloud infrastructure to accommodate it.

To put it succinctly, cloud hosting is the right choice for you if you want to stick to the web and do not want to handle the hosting grunt work.

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Hybrid Architecture: The Wave of the Future?

Hybrid architecture combines dedicated servers with cloud hosting to offer a dynamic service that can negate a lot of the downsides of both dedicated servers and cloud hosting. Hybrid architecture can offer increased security through the use of dedicated servers while offering the same easy scalability seen in cloud hosting options. There are many options to combine these two hosting services to best suit your business. To bring it back to the housing analogy, hybrid architecture is like owning a house and renting a larger Airbnb when your family comes to visit.

If you’re deciding between cloud hosting, virtual server or data centres, dedicated servers, or even considering a hybrid solution, don’t decide alone. Macquarie Cloud Services does all that and more and can help you decide what solution fits your business’ needs.