Contrasting Cloud Servers and VPS

By on October 10, 2013

While both VPS (virtual private servers) and cloud servers use managed hosting to provide server storage for your business, these are two distinct services. They are not the same. While VPS and cloud servers each have business benefits, confusion about VPS versus the cloud can lead your business to pursue the wrong strategy. Learn more about what each model offers to make the best business decision.

Contrasting Cloud Servers and VPS

What is VPS?

A VPS hosting platform appears like a traditional in-house server to the user; you configure the software, and run whatever you need. However, because it’s a virtual server, you have a greater ability to expand its capabilities. With a traditional bare metal server, if you want to expand its memory or increase its processing power, you have to install new hardware, but with a virtual server, you just requisition more resources. The original VPS platforms operated multiple virtual servers on discrete physical machines. The hosting service would run multiple clients’ servers on a single set of hardware. Now, however, cloud VPS platforms remove the single-machine restriction; users can expand their servers to whatever they need, without worrying about reaching the limit of a single machine’s resources. The key difference between a VPS and a standard cloud platform is that the VPS is just one server. If you want to run multiple virtual machines, you’d have to pay for multiple VPS instances. While a VPS would work well for an individual or a small business, mid-to-large sized companies would need a much more robust solution, like a cloud server.

What is a Cloud Server?

A cloud server is, at its core, a virtual server running on a platform consisting of many networked physical machines that coordinate and pool hardware resources to allow individual server instances to expand and contract according to their changing needs. There are two basic cloud platform categories: private and public.

In a private cloud, one client or company has a complete, dedicated hardware cloud platform. No other client at the hosting company has any data or software on those machines — nobody else has any access to them at all, in fact. If the cloud platform is actually physically in-house, then it’s automatically private.

A public cloud, on the other hand, is a large pool of resources shared among all of the host’s clients. Clients’ servers are separated via software rather than hardware. Though this type of cloud service is inherently less secure than a private cloud, it’s also much less expensive.

For businesses running multiple large databases and servers, mobile apps, dev environments, email and websites, a full cloud platform — whether private or public — will provide much greater flexibility, power and room to grow than a VPS.

Choosing the Right Server Model

Knowing a little bit about each of these server models is the first step toward choosing the right type of hosted server. As a next step, evaluate your business needs to see what model best meets your existing needs and planned future growth.

List out the requirements you have for a server in terms of space, functionality, security and budget. If security is paramount to you, you’ll fare best with a private cloud. If budget is your primary concern, a VPS is cheaper for a single server, but paying for access to a more robust cloud platform is wiser if you need to create a complex server network.

This is an important decision, so make sure to give it the time it deserves. Both VPSs and cloud servers have a dedicated fan base, and both can be good for business. An accurate needs assessment will help you pick the best candidate for your needs.

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