Web Design Articles

Types of Web / Web Application Hosting

Your web designer may have completed your website, but the real task starts after that. For your business to grow, it is important to choose your web host carefully. More so, if it is a mission critical web application.

Web hosting companies need to install web server software on server(s) and must be connected 24 / 7 to the Internet at a very high speed to offer effective hosting solutions.

Search the web, and you will come up with a bewildering choice for hosting for ‘web hosting companies’ or some such keywords. You will find hosting companies from Charlotte, North Carolina to Copenhagen, Denmark and from free website hosting to hundreds of dollars (if not thousands). It is a daunting task for the uninitiated to find the web host that is right for them.

In this article, we discuss the merits and demerits of different hosting options for your website, intranet, mobile application or web application.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting is the most common kind of hosting. Shared hosting means that the hosting company has set up a number of servers and shares the existing space with anyone who wants to host their website / web application. Since the cost of the server is shared with customers, shared hosting is one of the cheapest hosting options available.

Most small businesses and individuals prefer starting the shared hosting way, as it is a good way to learn the ropes. While being cheap, there are some demerits to shared hosting:

  • If the serve is overloaded with websites / applications, your site speed is affected adversely. Typically like what happens during a traffic jam.
  • If a few website / web applications on the server spam the server, the entire IP gets blacklisted. This hampers your reputation.
  • If you want to ramp up some features for your website, it is not possible to do so. For example, almost all hosting companies cannot let you install a https certificate or streaming media server for your website for technical reasons.
VPS Hosting

VPS stands for Virtual Private Server. This is a technique that makes it possible to create a number of virtual servers on a single physical server. Since each server is virtually different, you get control of various aspects of the server, including the OS and add-ons. In additions, you also get a stipulated CPU speed and RAM. 
One of the biggest advantages of using virtualization is that you will not be penalized because of the credibility / performance issue of the neighboring web applications or websites.
The main advantage is that it’s not possible that other virtual servers will negatively affect the performance of your machine and your installation is more secure. 
VPS servers are managed by a hypervisor. 

What are hypervisors?
A hypervisor is a program that manages the entire VPS hosting operation. From allocating space, RAM to CPU, the hypervisor looks after all aspects of hosting. The task of a hypervisor therefore is to create and manage server resources optimally. In effect, it allows hosting of several different virtual machines on a single hardware.

VPS hosting therefore gives you more control over your hosting environment than shared hosting. The downside is the higher cost as compared to shared hosting.

Dedicated Hosting

A dedicated server is a server which is entirely yours. All resources on the servers, all the specs, are available to you and only you. You can choose to host only your website, or if you are a web design company you can host your customers’ website on this server. You can get to control what features you need, and in general control all aspects of the server. While costlier than VPS, a dedicated server gives you the best control in terms of hosting environment and security. There are two types of dedicated servers available commercially – managed or unmanaged. 
Managed dedicated servers are handled entirely by the hosting company. This lets you focus on your job, rather than monitoring the server. 
Unmanaged servers are those that the customer handles remotely. In this case, the web hosting company merely provides the customer with the hardware; all aspects of the server including installation of various software, add-on and monitoring is handled by the customer. While cheaper than managed dedicated hosting, this is not really a practical option unless you have a good server admin. 

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting extends the concept of ‘cloud computing’ technology to hosting. Rather than rely on one machine, cloud hosting allows an unlimited number of servers to act as a single system. This therefore provides powerful scalability in terms of everything include speed, RAM, disk space and software. Because of their flexibility, cloud based hosting allows your website or web application to ramp up depending on your traffic. Plus, since you usually pay as per your use, rather than pay for fixed resources, cloud hosting can work better in the long run. 

One of the earliest concerns with cloud hosting was the security aspect, but as the technology improves, the security threat is diminishing.