Picking the right server infrastructure for any technical product, application or storage needs is mission-critical. When it comes to server choices, there are numerous options and unless you have extensive knowledge on servers, it pays to work with experts who can select the best option for what you need.
Although there is quite an extensive list of options, when it comes to servers, the most common are cloud servers, dedicated servers, and virtual servers. In this article, we compare these options to help companies understand why this is important and the influence server options can have on the development, speed, security and scalability of software products and applications.
What is a Cloud based server?
Cloud servers are the most commonly used servers; also known as shared hosting. Before the advent of the cloud servers era, companies had servers on-site. Known as on premises (on prem) servers, which limited how much data a company could store, depending on the amount of server capacity they had. It also meant maintaining and updating servers, keeping them physically and technically secure, and therefore dedicating resources and staff to maintaining servers, to ensure IT systems and other critical infrastructure could operate effectively.
Thankfully, with cloud servers, none of that is needed. Another company, a cloud provider, such as Amazon, provides companies with as much server space as they need, securely, and they maintain them. Cloud servers can either be paid for depending on the amount of space a company requires, if it’s unlikely to change. Or if something such as a website is being hosted, then the cost often depends on the volume of traffic, and this can fluctuate based on volume.
Cloud servers are a popular option, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) one of the most high-profile options. AWS offers a wide range of services, from standard cloud options where a website or app sits in a server alongside numerous others, including dedicated and virtual private servers (VPS).
When it comes to cloud servers, whether you have a VPS, or shared space, you’ve got to think about the ease-of-use and features of web interfaces for managing the server space(s), such as AWS, Azure, and GCP, for example. Companies can also plug into these monitoring services, such as AWS CloudWatch, or other third-party systems, which collect valuable data and actionable insights for engineers.
Another thing to consider is the advantages of ready-made solutions, such as S3, RDS, BlobStorage, SQS, Registers, and others. Depending on what you need, it might be worth paying more for ready-made solutions than your own with support engineers team.
For enterprise-level customers, a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) is often popular, which offers a range of advantages over a VPS and other solutions. Most clouds, whether a VPS or completely dedicated space, also provide APIs, to ensure cloud and software engineering partners can work with their services to manage the infrastructure more effectively.
What is a Virtual Server?
A virtual server, also known as a Virtual Private Server (VPS) is similar to the above, except your website or app sits within it’s own cloud-based server space. Although physically, it’s contained within the same hardware as other virtual spaces, each one is partitioned from the other, which means you can create a VPS environment that’s different from others on the same server.
VPS is configured specially for the needs of the website or app in question, and due to the virtual partitioning within a physical server, nothing else on that server can steal resources. Space is allocated according to need, and the amount various customers pay, which depends on the amount of space required.
With the space partitioned, each website or app is protected from any others that are tapping into the same pool of resources. So if, unfortunately, another website is hacked or breached in any way, that won’t compromise what you’ve got within the VPS. Digital Ocean is an example of a VPS provider that is popular with customers.
With a VPS, the costs are often cheaper than other options, it’s usually easier to set up the right environment, and there are more options for shared and dedicated resources.
What is a Dedicated Server?
A dedicated server, on the other hand is more suited to those with higher-levels of security requirements. For example, government, healthcare, and financial services need the most secure environments possible, and that can only be achieved within a dedicated server.
This way, you can configure a server around exactly what you need. Or a server provider can configure one for a client, and provide ongoing maintenance for that server.
Hetzner is an example of a cloud provider which offers dedicated servers, whereby customers, usually with the help of technology partners, can have complete control over the configuration and security of the hardware and software of the server.
Now let’s compare, what’s the best option to choose: Cloud Server vs Dedicated Server vs Virtual Server?
Virtual Private Server vs Cloud
What you choose depends on what you need, and of course, what you can afford. Thankfully, with so many providers of various forms of cloud-based computing infrastructure services, pricing is competitive. It also helps to work with a technology partner, such as ourselves, to pick the best options for your website, app, or any other technology project.
Smaller websites usually only need space on a shared cloud-based server. Whereas, if you’ve got a larger website or app, companies often need dedicated cloud space, to allow for the sort of traffic that highload projects expect to get. When an app or software is highload and easily scalable, a cloud-based server is usually the best solution.
Whereas, if you want a little more security, for a slightly higher cost, you could get a virtual private server (VPS). A VPS has the advantages of better security, and the ability to configure a space more closely around the technical needs of the app or website.
Virtual server vs Dedicated
Although both of these options are dedicated, a VPS is not exclusively for the benefit of one particular client. A VPS is virtually partitioned, but other websites and apps are running of the same hardware/infrastructure.
Whereas with a dedicated server, it’s completely dedicated to the needs of a specific website, app, or other technology product. With the support of a trusted technology partner, this server space can be configured around exactly what is needed, maintained, made secure and updated as required.
Cloud service vs Dedicated service
The simplest comparison is cloud compared to a dedicated server. For those with stricter security needs, such as government organisations, healthcare and financial services, the best and in many ways, only option, is a dedicated server. Whereas, if you’ve got less exacting needs, such as a simple website, then a more practical option, with a lower cost, would be a cloud server (shared hosting).
Whatever option you go with, make sure it addresses the needs and technical requirements of the project you are undertaking. Security, speed and scalability are all mission-critical when it comes to picking a web hosting environment, and knowing whether you need to manage the environment yourself or it’s managed on your behalf.
Always speak with a trusted technology partner when it comes time to picking a suitable hosting and server environment before embarking on any new project.