Cloud Hosting Explained In Simple Detail

2013-02-25by Daniel Briere

What is cloud web hosting in reality? The term 'cloud' seems to be quite trendy in today's hosting market. It's the latest and greatest buzzword bandied about by every hosting provider. The reality is that many people don't really know what cloud hosting is. To better explain what cloud hosting is, I think it's critical to explain what cloud hosting is not.

Cloud hosting isn't just about remote data storage

Providing a remote file storage solution, which involves offering a single disk storage tool for all users, does not magically transform a hosting provider into an actual cloud web hosting supplier.

Many traditional cPanel web hosting providers dub the basic ability to offer remote file storage services as a cloud web hosting solution. While there's nothing inherently wrong with using the cloud designation in this case, I think it's important to note that the cloud moniker applies on a comprehensive hosting solution and not just remote disk storage solutions. It's not appropriate to identify a shared hosting solution based on a single-server hosting environment, exactly like cPanel, as a "cloud web hosting" solution. That's because the remaining components of the whole web hosting platform must be operating in precisely the same way - this does not refer only to the remote data storage. The remaining services (such as MySQL, domain management, email, the Web server itself) involved in the entire hosting scheme also must be remote, isolated and "clouded". And that's very hard and expensive to implement. A very small number of web hosting firms can actually offer true cloud hosting.

Here's a quick and dirty way to tell if your hosting provider is truly a cloud host: are your data files and MySQL databases stored on the exact same single server? If the answer is yes, then your host is mis-using the cloud label because if that server goes down - so does your Website and its associated services.

Cloud hosting encompasses Domains, Mail Aliases, Databases, File Transfer Protocols, Web Hosting Control Panels, and so on

To continue with the point I made above, cloud web hosting is not confined to just remote file storage. We are discussing a web hosting service, serving many domain names, websites, e-mail addresses, and so on, aren't we?

Here's an example. The mail service must be dedicated solely to the task of sending and receiving email, with redundancy based on a replicated, multi-server environment. Doing nothing else other than sending and receiving email. There has to be at least two mail servers in a cloud environment, because this is where redundancy is achieved. The multiple mail servers must act as one, as this is the other component of redundancy. Another example: a real cloud web hosting service contains multiple remote database servers that function as one, again providing redundancy. The same goes for the clients' hosting control panels, the File Transfer Protocol, and so on.

Even the nameservers should reflect a cloud-oriented architecture

The domain name servers of a true cloud web hosting firm will support multiple datacenter facility sites on different continents.

Here's an example of the DNS of a real cloud web hosting company:



If such a generic DNS naming scheme is offered by your web hosting provider, that's a clue that your host has implemented and is using a cloud-oriented architecture. However, if your host is using a series of nameservers, then you can be absolutely certain that you are not dealing with a cloud hosting provider:



This kind of Domain Name Server plainly reveals that the web hosting platform in use is single-server based. Possibly it's cPanel. Or some other control panel. cPanel tends to be a one-server hosting solution and holds a market share of more than 98 percent. In cPanel's case, one server is responsible for all web hosting services (web, electronic mail, DNS, databases, FTP, web hosting CP(s), files, and so on).

Remote File Storage - The Perverted Definition of Cloud Web Hosting.

So, a cloud web hosting service is not restricted solely to remote file storage, as plenty of web hosting firms wish it was. Unluckily for them, if that was the case, the majority of web hosting providers would have been referred to as cloud hosts a long time ago! They are not referred to as such, because they simply furnish file hosting solutions, not cloud hosting services. The remote file storage platform is not a cloud web hosting platform. It cannot be, since it's just one simple fragment of the whole cloud hosting platform. There's plenty more to be found in the cloud hosting platform: the web hosting control panel cloud, the database clouds (MySQL, PostgreSQL), the Domain Name Server cloud, the File Transfer Protocol cloud, the mail cloud and... in the not too distant future, perhaps several brand new clouds we currently are not familiar with will emerge out of nowhere.

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Daniel Briere

Daniel Briere


Daniel Briere is the President of iHostingX.com, a full-service cloud hosting and domain registration provider. He has worked in various capacities in the Web hosting industry since 2004. Daniel can be reached via email at ceo@ihostingx.com.

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