When hunting online for possible server options for your business, you’ll likely come across a variety of different terms and phrases. It’s a lot to take in, and it can be hard to know where to start.
Amongst terms like dedicated servers, VPS, and shared hosting, you may have come across something called a cloud server. Many people associate the term ‘cloud’ with something vaguely to do with data being saved somewhere up in the sky. But there’s a lot more to it when we’re talking about servers.
To save you the confusion, let’s take a proper look at what a cloud server actually is, how it works, and when you might need one.
What is a cloud server?
A cloud server is essentially a virtual infrastructure that can be used to house and access large amounts of data, apps, and other resources. Cloud computing environments are made up of a network of cloud servers, which deliver computing resources, such as storage and processing power, on demand to unlimited users.
The concept of cloud hosting relies on the simple idea of non-localised data storage. That might sound like a mouthful but it's actually quite simple. Rather than your data being stored in a single physical location and accessed from on-site devices, it’s stored virtually and can be accessed from anywhere via the internet.
What’s the difference between a cloud server and a traditional server?
Traditional servers, such as dedicated servers, deliver the same computing resources as cloud servers but are housed and managed on-site. This lack of remote access means that organisations have to buy and manage their own server hardware, which can be expensive and time consuming.
With cloud servers, you won’t need to worry about hiring an IT team to take charge of server maintenance as everything is managed by the cloud provider, and since these servers are remotely accessed, they tend to be more stable and secure. And as they’re not limited by existing hardware like a dedicated server, resources can be added to your hosting plan as needed. This flexibility and scalability can make cloud hosting a more powerful solution at a more reasonable price.
How does a cloud server work?
In a nutshell, the cloud is where a network of servers work together via an internet connection to create a virtual infrastructure. Instead of a single machine taking all the strain, these servers spread the weight across multiple sources, allowing for complex processing with reduced risk to your data.
So why is this useful?
Why use a cloud server?
A cloud server comes with a whole host of benefits to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the core advantages.
Data protection has a lot of moving parts and it’s not really something you can afford to get wrong.
When you use a cloud hosting provider, your data is protected by their top-of-the-line security measures, including things like two-factor authentication and the latest software and hardware security. Plus, reputable cloud providers hire top security experts who can handle emergencies at any time, so even if you experience a late-night malfunction or cyber attack, they’ll be there to make sure your data stays safe.
Arguably one of the biggest reasons people go for a cloud server is its flexibility. You can upgrade your RAM, storage and vCores when you need to. So really the bottom line is that you have a lot more freedom when it comes to expanding.
They also allow you to work flexibly too – they can be accessed by all sorts of devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and notebooks. This adds an additional layer of portability to your project that you wouldn’t necessarily get with other server types.
That’s all well and good, but can you afford it? The answer is, compared to other hosting options, cloud servers are one of the most affordable ones out there. Purchasing and maintaining IT hardware isn’t cheap, especially if you’re thinking of upscaling. By using a cloud server, you offload the maintenance and running costs from your team, saving time, effort, and money.
Remember we said they were flexible? Well, they’re also flexible in terms of how you pay for the service. Payment systems range from monthly and annual bills, to down-to-the-minute billing, like ours..
4. Data Backups
Physical servers are always at risk. Whether it’s from natural disasters, fires, theft, or malfunction, there’s always a chance something could happen to compromise your data and ultimately your business.
A cloud server provides you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your data is safe, and spread across multiple sources. Even if one cloud server fails, your data can be retrieved from a network of other servers, enhancing data protection and disaster recovery measures.
Found near the top of the list, one of the best perks of cloud hosting is how simple it makes collaboration. The fact that files can be accessed from anywhere means that working on projects together is easy. And with round-the-clock access unrestricted by finishing times and time zones, work can continue anywhere, with anyone.
Cloud servers are extremely reliable due to the cloud network. If one server runs into issues, others in the network can easily pick up the slack. This means you can continue working no matter what – as long as you have an internet connection!
What are the different types of cloud servers?
There are three main types of cloud computing. Let’s take a look at each, and how they might be used.
A public cloud server, sometimes called shared cloud, is a server that offers services to multiple customers. The server is split into multiple virtual servers, giving you your own space, but you still have to share resources like storage, CPU and RAM. With public cloud, you only pay for what you use, which can help you keep costs low.
It might sound pretty obvious but a private cloud server is exactly what it sounds like – a cloud server that's private. It's exclusively offered to one user, giving you your own server space and all the resources that come with it are dedicated to you, no sharing. The cloud server can be based on the user’s premises or housed in a cloud provider’s data centre.
Looking for the best of both worlds? Hybrid cloud is the perfect solution for you. With hybrid cloud, you get access to both third-party public cloud servers and on-premises private cloud servers, so you can benefit from the security of private cloud and the scalability and cost-effectiveness of public cloud.
What can you use a cloud server for?
Cloud servers are all-rounders. Whatever project you're planning, or already running, you'll likely be able to do it on a cloud server too. With so many possibilities, it's hard to list them all here, but here are a few as an example:
- IT infrastructure. They can be a scalable cost-effective solution for internal IT, allowing employees to access everything they need remotely.
- Education and institutions. Cloud servers are great for resource sharing, making them ideal for delivering training courses and virtual lessons.
- Software development. Develop software on a platform that gives you access to snapshots and clones so you can easily restore versions.
- Ecommerce. Cloud servers give you the beefy performance you need to run a large ecommerce site while running powerful apps like Magento.
Do I need a cloud server?
Whether you need a cloud storage solution, beefy performance for a large ecommerce site or somewhere to test your latest software, a cloud server is ideal for loads of use cases.
The bottom line is that a cloud server means:
- You get all the same benefits and functionalities as you would with a physical, on-premises server
- You can easily organise complex, multi-faceted projects, and store large amounts of data
- You can choose a plan that suits the size and ambition of your business
- You have increased peace of mind around the security of your data
- You can choose how to pay for the services you use