VPS hosting is something that many companies are now becoming familiar with. As they begin to see the benefits of moving some or all of their critical infrastructure or data to hosted VPS solution, they become more familiar with the way the virtualized world works, and even non-IT gurus see the benefits of outsourced data storage and application use – in addition to freeing up physical space, it can also lower costs and improve agility.
The problem lies in the fact that many providers – even the big ones like Microsoft, Cisco and VMware, want to muddy the virtual water by throwing in the term “cloud”. The cloud is ill-defined at the moment, and is seen by different industry professionals as everything from the Internet itself to a series of private, offline servers that host a company’s data. Often, cloud hosting and VPS hosting will be lumped together as though they are one and the same, but this is not exactly the case.
There are a number of similarities that the two share, starting with virtualization. The cloud is inherently virtualized – it exists either on the Internet or in multiple physical servers in a non-local space. VPS is the same, at least insofar as it is a server that is located outside of the confines of a company’s office and employs the creation of what are known as virtual machines on that server – machines that operate as if they are independent from all others on the server. Cloud hosting also does this by creating multiple instances of a company’s data across several servers, all of which rely on the resources of the server but do interact with other programs or data. Clouds also typically extend beyond a private network, which a feature shared by VPS options.
On the other hand, the level of virtualization seen in a VPS is simply not the same as that in the cloud. Regardless of whether or not a cloud is private, public or hybrid, it spreads the information a company is paying to have stored across a broad range of servers, as mentioned above, and this allows cloud servers to dynamically react to sudden traffic or workloads and adjust access and bandwidth accordingly. This agility and scalability is something that VPS hosting can emulate to some degree, but not with as broad a range.
What is important to note is that VPS is an excellent precursor to what is commonly understood to be the cloud. By putting the emphasis on the application of a company, rather than the hardware they need to run it, VPS options and cloud options both move the area of IT growth out of the server space and into the virtual – the hardware will be taken care of, and it is more important that an app work correctly and with a level of performance that satisfies the client.
Using VPS or any virtualization technology can be looked at as the first steps toward moving into the cloud. Don’t be fooled – a VPS is not cloud hosting, nor is the reverse true, but the two share a number of similarities in their use of technology and their focus. It is the rise of the application as the most important of the delivery of service over the maintaining of hardware that sets VPS and cloud options apart from local, physical servers.
While your company may not yet be ready for a full jump to the cloud, a hosted VPS solution can be an excellent start on the way to a hybrid or even public option.