5 Top Web Hosting Models Explained
FEB 27, 2015 12:03 PM
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5 Top Web Hosting Models Explained

By Bob Spiegel

Cloud hostingIf you’re new to the world of web hosting, you may need a crash course in order to fully understand various terms like dedicated hosting, shared hosting, managed hosting, cloud hosting, and so on.
 
In this quick article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the different types of web hosting models and how they apply to your business or personal IT needs. 
 
1. Shared Hosting
 
Sometimes called multi-tenant hosting, shared hosting is one of the oldest and most well-known forms of web hosting. Shared hosting works by using a single web server to host multiple client websites. 
 
Imagine an apple pie. That apple pie represents the entire infrastructure of your web hosting provider. Now, imagine your provider slicing up the lovely apple pie into eight different pieces. Further, imagine that multiple people are forced to split a single piece of the apple pie. This is shared hosting.
 
For the web hosting provider, shared hosting represents a cheap and effective method of cramming as many clients into a single server as possible. For the client, shared hosting represents a cheap method of web hosting where server resources are pooled.
 
Typical users: Consumers looking to host a personal website on the cheap, without worrying too much about the security or resource repercussions of sharing a single server with multiple tenants.
 
Stay away: If you’re a company in need of hosting a website or an online store that requires high amounts of security and resource-intensive computing power, shared hosting is not your best bet.

2. Dedicated Hosting

As the name suggests, dedicated hosting platforms let consumers use a single server or a rack of servers for their own needs. Unlike shared hosting, dedicated hosting offers privacy to individual tenants. In addition to this, the dedicated environment lets clients have full control over the hosting environment, for example, root access, installing/uninstalling programs, and establishing security protocols.
 
While dedicated hosting clients have full control over their IT environment, they’re still renting the servers from the web hosting company. Basically, dedicated hosting let you lease the server, rather than own it. Within this environment, most providers let clients choose from an unmanaged or managed hosting environment. 
 
Managed hosting environments let users have full access to their servers, but their hosting providers have access to the server as well, to manage maintenance needs. On the other hand, unmanaged hosting refers to a fully client-controlled IT environment, wherein the host in question has no access to the client’s server.
 
Dedicated servers aren’t very flexible when it comes to their resources (RAM, CPU, disk space, and bandwidth). This means that the clients will lease dedicated servers that have a set amount of resources. If greater resources are needed, customers must lease other dedicated severs. In a nutshell, dedicated environments are not resource scalable.
 
Typical users: Consumers and businesses looking to host their IT needs in a highly controlled environment, in which they can dictate the environment rules. 
 
Stay away: If you’re a private web-hosting consumer looking to host a simple, low-traffic website that doesn’t make use of critical data, a dedicated environment may prove to be too powerful, too expensive, and too technically savvy for your needs. 

3. Colocation 

Colocation is similar to dedicated hosting; the hosting environment is private to the individual user, and the resources are set per server. The major difference between dedicated hosting and colocation is that with colocation, the clients own the servers and lease space within a data center, using the services provided by their preferred vendors.
 
Through leasing space in a data center, the client gains access to data center firewalls, connectivity, and storage. Outside of the aforementioned, all colocation server maintenance is conducted by the client. 
 
Typical users: High-end companies who need high-level security, control, and access to their web servers. Colocation tends to be the most expensive form of web hosting.
 
Stay away: Clients looking for an inexpensive solution. Anyone and everyone who is not ready to fully manage their hosting environment.  

4. Virtual Private Server 

A Virtual Private Server (VPS), sometimes referred to as Virtual Dedicated Server (VDS), virtualizes web-server resources into a virtual computing environment. To accomplish virtualization, web-hosting companies deploy a virtualization layer – Xen, KVM, Hyper-V, or OpenVZ, for example – to convert physical resources into virtual entities that can be scaled to meet the clients’ needs. 
 
While the dedicated server clients have full root access to their servers, the VPS clients may have limited access to their servers, depending on the rules stipulated by the hosting company. 
 
The major benefit of a VPS environment is its high scalability. Since computing resources are virtualized, it’s easy for any provider to create additional servers, or quickly increase the performance and resources of any server.
 
Typical users: Developers looking for a scalable platform for building an application. Since VPS solutions are cost friendly in comparison with dedicated environments, also having the added benefit of scalability, they’re ideal for developers.
 
Stay away: First time web-hosting users or the less technically inclined. VPS platforms require higher knowledge of resource allocation and root server access/administration, so anyone without command line interface knowledge should stay away.

5. Cloud Hosting

The cloud-hosting environment offers access to a highly scalable, highly reliable, highly secure hosting environment based upon clustered-load balancing, matched with utility billing (per minute, per hour, per day, per month). 
 
Due to the decentralized nature of cloud computing, cloud hosting allows for a more stable hosting environment, in which resources and uptime solutions can be moved from a connected network to the other. 
 
Much like VPS hosting, cloud-server hosting enables high scalability within a private hosting environment. 
 
Typical users: Developers looking to build applications on Solid State Drive (SSD) infrastructure, businesses looking to host large-scale enterprise websites, and small business owners looking to deploy a private network, wherein client data can be protected behind an internally deployed firewall.
 
Stay away: Cloud hosting is the leading light of the web-hosting industry at the moment. The solution is applicable to almost anyone. 
 
Bob Spiegel is the founder of QuoteColo, a company that provides a free service, matching buyers of colocation, dedicated servers, managed hosting and cloud hosting to reputable, cost-effective web hosting providers. Connect with Bob on Facebook and Twitter.
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