Earlier this year, we changed hosting companies for the first time in thirteen years. I wrote about that change here, and pointed out how boring a topic web hosting is.
But it’s important. So much so, we’re getting ready to launch a whole new kind of web hosting at Better Website Hosting. You can get in on the Better Website Hosting beta program by clicking that link, by the way.
In fact, we’re so serious about Better Website Hosting that if you open the story I mentioned at the top of this article and scroll to the bottom we’ll give you free hosting. Seriously.
And that hosting will happen in “the cloud”. At least, it will .. to you. Bringing us to the point of this story; What is Cloud Hosting?
We almost can’t tell you. In fact, the reason we switched hosts this year was that our longtime provider couldn’t tell us. We KNEW the answer, but literally, the company we’d bought hosting from for thirteen years couldn’t differentiate between their cloud hosting and other products they sold.
Sounds impossible, right? A hosting provider unable to tell you what cloud hosting is makes no sense—even when you think about how odd an idea cloud hosting is.
So when our new host published this article a few weeks ago, I was intrigued. Had they explained anything, any better than our old host?
It turns out not, although the article makes a great marketing point: if you need extra power, you’ll get it automatically. Yes, you’ll pay, but at the end of a conversation on the topic the real benefit of cloud hosting is that you never “max out”, no matter what.
Assuming, of course, that your cloud hosting plan is actually cloud hosting and actually set up well.
That last statement probably makes this a more confusing subject than ever. So let me say right now that Siteground sets up hosting the right way (and that if you click through to them from our links and buy services we might get a commission). But let me also say that the more you dig cloud hosting and the way it’s priced just keeps getting more confusing.
For example, if you buy cloud hosting from Amazon or Google it can be incredibly inexpensive—but probably won’t be. And at many companies that let you choose between cloud, dedicated, and shared hosting plans, cloud hosting is pretty cheap, but at Siteground it isn’t.
So what is cloud hosting? is cloud hosting a premium product, or more of a discount loss leader?
What is Cloud Hosting?
Price and performance notwithstanding, the best way to address “what is cloud hosting?” is with a simple split.
- Dedicated Hosting is when your website is served from a machine that does nothing but host your site
- Shared Hosting is when your site is kept on a computer that also hosts other sites
- Cloud Hosting is when your site is not kept on a single computer at all, but hosted across several—or even several dozen or several hundred—computers.
The issue isn’t limited to websites, of course. Services like Dropbox and Google Drive store your things … somewhere you can’t identify. I wrote about Owncloud a few years back—and told you that it isn’t really a cloud service at all.
So what is cloud hosting? When your application (yes, a website is an application) is hosted in multiple places, you are cloud hosted. That’s why OwnCloud isn’t a cloud application at all, despite its name. And it’s why describing what being “in the cloud” means can get so dicey. Everything is “in the cloud” once it leaves your computer, but cloud hosting is more than just being remote.
That’s what cloud hosting is. But is cloud hosting a good thing?
The “What Is Cloud Hosting?” Paradox
If it saves you money, cloud hosting is great. If it makes your application faster, cloud hosting is great. But if it complicates anything you need to track, including costs or speed, cloud hosting’s value decreases. So with Siteground charging a significant premium even though it saves them money, cloud hosting becomes a head-scratcher. Good idea? Bad idea? YES.
But mostly good. Paying more for something better isn’t a bad thing once you understand the value equation. Better Website Hosting is … better. It’s faster. It lessens your administrative and security headaches. And it’s in the cloud, even if it isn’t necessarily “cloud hosting”.
And that’s the point. Someone has to manage issues like the type of hosting you buy, but it probably shouldn’t be you.