If you're looking to replace your old server, moving from dedicated to cloud-based hosting could be the way forward.
You've invested in your business and your IT infrastructure and, given the age that we live in, paying for the best hosting for the job is money well spent for optimum performance. If you are in the process of arranging a new server, cloud-based hosting could work better for your business than dedicated options. Before we consider the advantages of cloud-based hosting however, let's take a look at the architectures that businesses tend to employ for their hosting.
- The Single: this is the most basic setup for a website - a single web server that also runs the database. In this setup, you have a single server or virtual machine (VM) that contains both the “web server” which serves your web pages to end users, and the “database server” with which your websites back-end code communicates to store data.
- The Double: this setup includes two servers or VMs and the database server and web server each have their own physical server or VM. This allows each to be scaled independently from the other, allowing for easier growth. This is the bare minimum that I would recommend to any business as it is scalable, however each server still represents a single point of failure like the 'Single'. Although this is a risk that can be mitigated with a suitable backup plan, one of the next two options is more advisable.
- The Triple: the next most common step is to add an extra server or VM as an additional web server. This involves also adding a load-balancer but allows the incoming traffic to your site(s) to be split between the two servers. Each web server will contain an identical copy of your website, each connecting to the same database server, meaning that regardless of which web server a visitor’s request hits – which is determined by the load-balancer – they get the same content displayed to them. One of the additional benefits of this method is that the load-balancer can be manipulated to allow for zero-downtime deployments of code-only changes.
- The Quadruple: the most reliable setup for dedicated hosting, the 'Quadruple' adds an extra server or virtual machine as an additional database server. The second database server acts as a 'replicated slave' to the first 'master' database. Any data written to the master gets seamlessly copied onto the slave. Read queries can be load-balanced between the two database servers if required for additional throughput in read-heavy applications but more often the slave simply acts as a “hot standby” that can be swapped to being the “master” if the first master goes down. Similarly with the 'Triple', code-only changes can be deployed with no downtime.
Why cloud servers?
Setting up any of the above architectures in a cloud environment such as Microsoft Azure is very easy these days, leaving no excuse for any organisation to not have reliable systems. Instead of having a physical, dedicated server, it is now more advisable in some cases to use a cloud provider to cater to your hosting needs.
The main advantages of cloud-based hosting
One of the main advantages of cloud servers is that capacity can be scaled up and scaled down as required. This can be done automatically based on the amount of traffic that you have going to your site. For businesses that have unpredictable amounts or traffic, or ones that see large spikes dependent on seasonality or product launches, cloud-based hosting offers peace of mind that your site will be able to cope under these influxes.
As well as the capacity being scaled up and down dependent on resource required, cost is scalable too. Cloud-based hosting allows businesses to pay for the amount of resource that is needed and reduce or increase this spend instantly if required. Dedicated servers do allow you to upgrade if you need to, however with cloud-based systems this is a far easier process and can be completed within a matter of clicks.
If a business relies on a single, dedicated server and this goes down, their entire business could be offline until further notice. Cloud-based hosting takes its resources from multiple servers, meaning that a new server can replace the previous one if it goes down. This results in minimal, if any, downtime.
It is mainly for the above reasons that cloud-based hosting is something that all businesses should consider, especially SMEs. For larger businesses, it is better to take a case-by-case approach. On one hand, larger organisations can take advantage of the cloud to allow rapid deployment of large-scale infrastructure at a fraction of the upfront cost of physical servers - however, incredibly large companies that require a high level of security and with large amounts of traffic to their site are likely to be better off with a dedicated, physical server rather than a shared setup. If you are undecided then please get in touch.
Give your website the hosting it deserves
It is clear that deciding on the hosting for your website is a hugely important decision. Although it is understandable that business owners want to save money wherever possible, web hosting often falls victim to austerity as its value is not always as tangible as other expenses - however, it is one area not to cut corners.
Consider the value of your entire website, and not just in the context of online sales or potential revenue. Think about any attribution you can give any sale or any benefit that a business draws from having a fully functional, fast and responsive website. How much would your business lose if you suddenly didn’t have an online presence? Unless you make the correct decision regarding your website, you could see frequent downtime or slow speeds, which will greatly affect how much revenue or value your site can generate for you.
Websites contribute hugely to many businesses successes (or failures) – perhaps more than people often realise since some of it is difficult to measure. With that in mind, why would you chose to host your website on anything other than the best hosting for the job?
If you have any questions about web hosting best practices, the pros and cons of cloud-based and dedicated hosting, or you have hosting requirements yourself, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.