In this article I wanted to spend some time looking at the subject of hosting. We all use hosted services on a daily basis but to those without direct experience of working in the hosting industry, it can get quite confusing.

For most, hosting is a term most commonly associated with Web hosting, but there are many different types of hosting services available, all of which help your business in different ways.

So let’s go right back to basics.

How does hosting work?

The basic principle of hosting is a relatively simple one. Information is made available from a server which is accessed across the internet. This information could be web pages, email, application data, even the co-ordinates of a player in an online game.

Different Hosting Types

In order to understand hosting more, let’s look more closely at the different types of hosting available. We have used web hosting examples to illustrate the differences but the servers could also be running many other types of service.

The most common ones available are:

Multi-tenant shared services:
Also known as shared hosting, your business purchases a very small slice of webserver which is often shared with lots of others businesses. A single shared server can host thousands of websites.
Virtual Private Server (or VPS):
Also use shared resources. All users of the server have a slice of the same operating system. The resources of a VPS are shared between up to 50 users, each of which may be running multiple websites. As the operating system is shared, a single process stopping can affect all the users, as could any hardware failures.
Dedicated Virtual Private Server:
This is usually another name given to a virtual private server, the main difference is normally that you have more reserved or dedicated resources. So you may only share with 25 other users who all could be running multiple websites.
• Virtual Server:
A virtual server uses shared hardware and infrastructure but each server has its own operating system and dedicated resources. The number of users on a virtual server is not so important as you have your own operating system and resources.
• High Availability Virtual Server:
The same as the Virtual Server but in a clustered environment with SAN disk storage, which allows the server to move between hardware without interruption to service.
• Dedicated Server:
A physical server which is used by exclusively by you. Dedicated servers enable you to have complete control of the resources of the server as well as its operating system. A dedicated server could host thousands of websites but is more susceptible to downtime due to hardware failure.
• Dedicated Infrastructure:
A number of servers, network and storage devices dedicated to your use. The infrastructure will typically comprise of multiple servers owned by your business, these can be in High Availability configurations. The biggest web sites run on this kind of infrastructure often in multiple data centres.

Other Uses of Server Hosting

Server hosting can be used for a wide range of different functions and can range from applications used during the day-to-day running of your business,

• Email
• Applications
• File Sharing
• Databases
• Document management
• Data Processing
• Web Hosting

Whatever you need a server for, where you put the servers is an important consideration. You can put the servers in your office, house or shed or for more important tasks you can go to a hosting provider, who will hopefully put it in a data centre. It is often best if you can visit the datacentre to get a feel for professionalism of the company you are putting your trust in. We have seen and heard over the years of many unusual hosting environments and interesting server configurations; often the data of many companies crammed into an ageing unbranded server with no backup or disk raid.

Now that you know the basics, we’ll look at the pros and cons of using the different types of hosting platforms in my next article.

Want to know more about the different options available to your business? Find out more by visiting our website.

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